Another Fable Friday: Father Damien of Molokai

 Do you know the story of Father Damien of Molokai?  A Flemish priest, he volunteered in the 1860’s to go to the Hawaiian island of Molokai to care for the lepers.  He did so admirably but eventually contracted the disease himself and died on the island in 1889.

There is a brief story in his biography of the day he told a fellow priest about his upcoming mission, just before leaving for the Island of Lepers.  As he described the assignment, tears welled in his eyes.  His friend tried to console him.  “I’m so sorry. This must be so difficult.”

Father Damien looked strangely at his friend and said, “Oh you misunderstand.  These tears are not tears of sorrow; they’re tears of joy.  Don’t you see that I now have this great opportunity to bring the good news of Christ to these poor unfortunate people?”

We can learn a lot about leadership from this little story of a brave and devout man, because he saw a difficult and arduous challenge as a great opportunity, something to look forward to, something he could achieve for the betterment of others.

Gregory LaMothe

Great managers always speak this way.  Try to think of a time in your organization when there was a tough challenge ahead:  a recent merger and consolidation, a new sales process, the dreaded “conversion.”  Great leaders know how to position these events as opportunities, rather than daunting tasks and challenges.

As a manager yourself, or even as a parent or spouse, you have an opportunity to use this way of thinking and speaking in order to instill confidence and purpose in others.  Here are snippets of the way managers position tough assignments.

“Some of you may think this will be challenging, and you will be right, but I want you to focus instead on what a great opportunity we have to capture this market and do it quickly…”

“If this were easy to do there would be no barrier to entry by our competitors, but because it will be hard work, we are the ones who are best poised to succeed, because we have the talent and the focus to win…”

“I’m looking forward to working alongside you and passing this test.  I’ll take our team and our skills against any of our competitors….”

And as a parent, “Yes, getting an A is a mark of achievement and you don’t get them for free.  They’re only given to the best.  That’s why I see this course as a perfect opportunity to use your brain and give it your best.  I can’t wait to see your grades.”

Your team members, your customers, your family and friends, all want to see the world in a positive way, and they look up to leaders who can position challenges as opportunities for success.  Do you have a little bit of Father Damien in you?

Think Like Your Customer.

I send an e-newsletter first week of every month.  If you’re not signed up, please go to my website, click on the newsletter link in the top right and enter your name and email address.  Thank you.  Gregory

About Gregory LaMothe
I teach people how to sell things. I own the company ActionSystems. Visit my website at

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