Mother Theresa. How would you describe her? Compassionate? Kind?

That’s not what people who knew her said. In my Strengths course, I ask the learners to name the major strength of different well-known people. Here’s what Pamela Sheppard replied: “The standard is compassion, but, having had the chance to actually see her in action, I have to add mental toughness, clarity of intention and economy of action. She was Holy Hell on Wheels, and thank God for that! --- and anyone else pales beside her.”

Another anecdote from someone who worked with Mother T. for 6 months and described herself as “the typical Trophy Wife looking for enrichment and meaning.” She was also a self-proclaimed fixer.

When she got on-site and saw people in the hospitals and hospice areas cleaning the floors with rags and cloths, she became excited. She told Mother Theresa—and this was a month after getting there when she felt she could actually speak to her and not just gaze at her in awe and feel woefully inadequate—that she could get brooms and mops sent to her. For FREE.

“Mops?” said Mother Theresa, in that lilting voice of hers. “Yes,” she replied, “they’ll save time and energy.” “Labor saving devices?” replied Mother Theresa. “But the point is to labor,” and smiled and walked off.


In one list I belong to, someone has experienced identity theft. Someone has erected a website about him, as if by him, that’s damaging to his reputation.

He has requested help from the others and the replies have been coming in. How sorry they are for him this has happened … how impossible it is to clean up identity theft, it takes years, it happened to them … check out to see who owns the site … check with the server…what a mess, it’s impossible.

One clear voice came through with, “Call the FBI. This has happened to me. They will have the site down in 10 minutes and the name of the perpetrator in 20.”

I read that and considered the case closed. How fortunate someone who’d been there knew what to do. But there was no response and the sympathy cards kept flowing in. Two days later another e-note: “I’ll repeat. Let your tax dollars do something for you for a change. Call the FBI. It’s what they do.”

But the list is still talking about what to do.


Pamela continued, “Mother Theresa was unmistakably in command. I will NEVER forget it. Everything I read about her since that time has more resonance, more depth, more meaning in the light of her as this Commander-in-Chief.”
When I had proposed Mother Theresa to the class, what I was after was Intentionality. It’s one of the highest-level EQ competencies - meaning what you say and saying what you mean, getting it done, and being accountable to yourself for your motives.

There’s nothing ^soft^ about compassion, or Intentionality, or emotional intelligence. EQ is what drives it all.

"There should be less talk,” said Mother Theresa. “A preaching point is not a meeting point. What do you do then? Take a broom and clean someone's house. That says enough."
Work on your Intentionality. It will make your life work better for you.

Author's Bio: 

©Susan Dunn, MA Clinical Psychology, The EQ Coach, . Individual and executive coaching, the Don’t Disappoint Her Again™ EQ program for men, the Strengths Course©, The EQ Foundation Course™, The EQ Learning Lab™, and The EQ eBook Library – for FREE ezine. Call 1-210-496-0678 for immediate service. Increasing your Emotional Intelligence makes your life work better.