Shaks Ghosh's mother with Mother Teresa - leadership lessons from St Teresa

Mother Teresa's calling card

Posted on September 9, 2016

Our Chief Executive Shaks Ghosh shares the personal lessons she learned from Mother Teresa’s leadership, following the humanitarian's recent cannonisation. 

While Mother Teresa was doing her missionary work in Calcutta, I was a student at the city's Loreto Convent, the place where Mother Teresa started her leadership journey.  It was a source of some amusement to us students - our politics and views about social action could not have been further from hers.

As young socialist students, we did not always appreciate her methods and devotion and often criticised her actions. We wished that she would do more to address the causes of suffering. We felt that simply offering love and dignity to the starving thousands was going to change nothing.

How wrong we were! The Mother did much to raise the issues of poverty globally; her advocacy for the poor, and her courageous admonishment of governments, the wealthy and the powerful have become legendary. She lived the life of the poor - to her dying day she shared a room with four other women. I now regret that as young politicos, we were so harsh in trivialising her preachings of love, humility and service.

Last week when she was being cannonised we heard about her doubts, her questions of her God and her faith. A salutary reminder that the road of meaningful leadership is paved with loneliness, sacrifice and self doubt. Mother Teresa was not always at peace.

My own mother served with Mother Teresa, working with children in her leprosy orphanage and raising funds for the houses where poor people of Calcutta still go to die. She met The Mother only once, and received one of her famous 'calling cards' which were what she called her business cards. Printed on the reverse were the powerful words, 'The fruit of love is service, and the fruit of service is peace'. RIP Mother Teresa.

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