Nelson Mandela and Virgin epitomise what we must all need to achieve

We all could be our own “Virginistas” – but first we have to CHOOSE to be so

At the cinema last night, I went to watch Nelson Mandela’s film “The long walk to freedom”, but before watching the main film, I was first struck once again by the brilliant Virgin Altantic advert – “Flying in the face of Ordinary”. I was also struck by some similarities between Nelson Mandela and Richard Branson, who Mandela counted as one of his friends.

The words they used made me think about our recently launched Linkedin group “Standing out from the crowd – Be M.A.D. not S.A.D.” (Magnificent and Dazzling not Satisfactory and Dull)

The advert finished with the super slogan “Flying in the face of the ordinary” but, before that, I was particularly struck by the phrases “saving us from the bland, the beige, and the common cant be bothered

All Virgin adverts tend to be fun and this one does not disappoint – but though I had seen the advert before, I had never noticed or heard the words used, which in itself is quite interesting anyway.

I am a fan of Virgin marketing and what they aspire to be as a business, and I love Richard Branson’s never ending insatiable desire to be the champion of the consumer, even though my one and only experience of flying Virgin was far from satisfactory – but, being generous, that might have been a one off.

But why did the team (who I call “Virginistas”) on my flight from Cape Town let me down?

I have thought about the reasons at length and I gradually came to the conclusion – It is the same problem that faces all of us – we can all dream we are exceptional, we can all aspire to be exceptional, we can all advertise that we are exceptional but, to actually BE exceptional, we have to CHOOSE to take the necessary action to be so, rather than be one of the “common cant be bothered”.

Despite what Virgin show in their advert, none of us were actually born different, or born with very special gifts – we have to be shown what to do and then CHOOSE our attitude about whether or not we will be bothered to implement what we have been shown to do and how to do.

I assume that my flight attendants that night obviously could not be bothered to apply that Virgin mentality on that flight.

It is the same with us and our businesses.

If we want to avoid being S.A.D. – the “bland and the beige” in the world – and instead be M.A.D. by creating our own “welcome splash of red in a weary world of grey“, then we need to CHOOSE to take action “to challenge the status quo“,  and to “evolve our thinking” and the thinking of our team and the people we deal with.

Thinking about Nelson Mandela – he was a remarkable man who thankfully made a choice to “be bothered“, to “challenge the status quo“, and at great personal sacrifice became successful in his choice to “evolve thinking and to change the lives of millions”

Similarly, Richard Branson in his own smaller way has become successful in evolving thinking and changing the lives of millions.

Both had to CHOOSE the path they wanted to follow, and have created history in their own unique way, Mandela with the political freedom he helped to bring to the oppressed majority in South Africa, and Virgin by continuing to be the “rebel” looking to fight the establishment as the champion of the small consumer.

They both epitomise what we in business need to achieve to avoid being reduced to commodities with little other than price to distinguish us and our services in the outside world.

So my question to you – Are you ready to fly in the face of ordinary?

If so, what do your team and you need to CHOOSE to do to become your very own “Virginistas”?

I urge you to join our “crusade against mediocrity” and become a member of our group on Linkedin – let us celebrate your unique “splash of red in a weary world of grey” and feature you and your business as we learn about your exceptional business behaviours and attitudes.

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