Mother Teresa at the Stove


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Volunteering for Mother Teresa’s Missionaries of Charity in Washington DC gave me two chances to meet the 1979 Nobel Peace Prize winner when she came to the US.

Once she was touring the Mission building where homeless and indigent people came to eat and get simple healthcare. The Indian nun in charge of the DC mission–one of the saintliest, hardest-working young people I’ve ever met–pointed out the kitchen’s antique little four-burner stove, recently donated by a local supporter.

The dozen volunteers crowded into the kitchen with Mother Teresa were shocked when she sternly told the young nun to sell the donated appliance, replace it with one that had only two burners, and put the proceeds into the operations fund.

“In Calcutta we serve many times more people than here, and only have two burners,” she snapped in her unique Albanian/Indian accent.

The dismay on the devoted young nun’s face was understandable. She was being ordered to sell a major donation, and make her wonderful Sisters work even harder without their one labor-saving device.

Not all service comes with a smile. Business leaders these days are encouraged to be “hard headed and soft hearted.” Surely no one has ever fit that profile better than Mother Teresa.

That was how she led. She didn’t think leaders were necessary. “Do not wait for leaders; do it alone, person to person,” she said.

Her leadership style was to burn with single-minded purpose. Everything–even the feelings and needs of her dedicated supporters–was secondary to her work. She and her passion were the same. Not a bad approach to success in the social media age, by the way.
None of us will ever have her sense of single-minded purpose. It would never succeed in today’s workplace, anyway. But the stronger, clearer and more eloquent we are with our unique purpose and vision, the less we’ll need trendy leadership skills, motivational cliches or quotes and social media widgets.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Carey Giudici
Betterwords for Business
Carey has a unique, high-energy approach to help small business owners, entrepreneurs and in-transition professionals make their Brand and content achieve superior results in the social media. He calls it "Ka-Ching Coaching" because the bottom line is always . . . your bottom line. He has developed marketing and training material for a Fortune 5 international corporation, a large public utility, the Embassy of Japan, the University of Washington, and many small businesses and entrepreneurs.


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