Tuesday was the birthday of Nelson Mandela, the South African civil rights leader who was instrumental in the country's transition out of Apartheid. He spent over 27 years in prison for his activism and advocacy for racial equality and democracy.

A man with a powerful gift for words and a passion for justice, Mandela received more than 250 public honors during his life, including the Nobel Peace Prize.

Mandela passed away in late 2013. While the man himself is no longer with us, he left an eloquent legacy through his many speeches and his writing. His wisdom came from difficult experience, personal struggle, and a commitment to a powerful vision; it also made him a leader truly worth following to people all over the world.

In my own personal travels to South Africa this year, I have seen first-hand the good that one man can bring to a nation. Here is a politician truly worth listening to.

1. "Education is the most powerful weapon which you can use to change the world."

2. "I learned that courage was not the absence of fear, but the triumph over it. The brave man is not he who does not feel afraid, but he who conquers that fear."

3. "It always seems impossible until it's done."

4. "For to be free is not merely to cast off one's chains, but to live in a way that respects and enhances the freedom of others."

5. "After climbing a great hill, one only finds that there are many more hills to climb."

6. "A good head and a good heart are always a formidable combination."

7. "There is nothing like returning to a place that remains unchanged to find the ways in which you yourself have altered."

8. "The greatest glory in living lies not in never falling, but in rising every time we fall."

9. "There is no passion to be found playing small - in settling for a life that is less than the one you are capable of living."

10. "If you want to make peace with your enemy, you have to work with your enemy. Then he becomes your partner."

11. "There can be no greater gift than that of giving one's time and energy to help others without expecting anything in return."

12. "Education is the great engine of personal development. It is through education that the daughter of a peasant can become a doctor, that the son of a mineworker can become the head of the mine, that a child of farm workers can become the president of a great nation. It is what we make out of what we have, not what we are given, that separates one person from another."

13. "What counts in life is not the mere fact that we have lived. It is what difference we have made to the lives of others that will determine the significance of the life we lead."

14. "If you want the cooperation of humans around you, you must make them feel they are important - and you do that by being genuine and humble."

15. "Do not judge me by my success, judge me by how many times I feel down and got back up again."

16. "A winner is a dreamer who never gives up."

17. "Part of being optimistic is keeping one's head pointed toward the sun, one's feet moving forward."

18. "Everyone can rise above their circumstances and achieve success if they are dedicated to and passionate about what they do."

19. "Live life as though nobody is watching, and express yourself as though everyone is listening."

20. "Lead from the back -- and let others believe they are in front."

21. "A good leader can engage in a debate frankly and thoroughly, knowing that at the end he and the other side must be closer, and thus emerge stronger. You don't have that idea when you are arrogant, superficial, and uninformed."

22. "It is so easy to break down and destroy. The heroes are those who make peace and build."

23. "You can start changing our world for the better daily, no matter how small the action."

24. "If you talk to a man in a language he understands, that goes to his head. If you talk to him in his language, that goes to his heart."

25. "A real leader uses every issue, no matter how serious and sensitive, to ensure that at the end of the debate we should emerge stronger and more united than ever before."

26. "As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same."

27. "The most difficult matter is not so much to change the world as yourself."

28. "One cannot be prepared for something while secretly believing it will not happen."

29. "May your choices reflect your hopes, not your fears."

30. "Tread softly, Breathe peacefully, Laugh hysterically."

Correction: An earlier version of this column included a quote that had been incorrectly attributed to Nelson Mandela.