A Lesson from ‘The Cold Call Pope’

This week, the New York Times ran a story about Pope Francis.  It seems he’s been spontaneously calling people who reach out to him for help —  a pregnant woman who’s boyfriend is pressuring her to have an abortion; a man whose brother was murdered during a robbery; etc.  He offers solace and comfort, and generally does what ‘The Peoples’ Pope’ would naturally do.  He’s now earned a second nickname:  The Cold Call Pope.  But, this new development has come with some controversy associated with it.  How could that possibly be, you ask?  And what can we learn from it?

First, let’s hear about what might be wrong with our new Pope’s phone calls.  From the New York Times article:  “Other Vatican analysts fear that the advent of papal phone calls could spawn disillusion among those not receiving a call.  ‘There’s an innumerable number of people who have suffered violence or injustice who might write to the pope for a word of comfort, and it’s clear that he can’t answer all of them’, said Alberto Melloni, a Vatican historian and the director of the John XXIII Foundation for Religious Studies in Bologna, a liberal Catholic research institute. ‘They could think, ‘See, I’m feeling awful and the pope didn’t even call.’ ‘

Jeez!  I love a good debate, and I almost always can see and appreciate both sides of an issue, but just imagine if Pope Francis had listened  to Mr. Melloni.  He would have avoided the potential negative of ill feelings by those he didn’t call by instead DOING NOTHING AT ALL.  Does anyone out there think that this would be the better path?  Thank goodness this new Pope has the will to do what he thinks right, and doesn’t listen too much to…excuse me….STUPID advice.

So, the lessons?  First, in the workplace, you will be engaged in many, many debates, and it is good to encourage that.  I have found that better decisions come out of hearing multiple and diverse views.  But, beware the circumstances where the debate leads to inaction…being frozen in place…for fear of angering or offending someone.  Sometimes doing nothing might be the best path, but if it always is the chosen path, well then we do nothing.

The second lesson is about fealty, being true to who you are.  The Peoples’ Pope would absolutely do cold calls to reach out and touch people one at a time.  And, so he does despite the risks of offending others.  You, too, should know who you are and stay true to it.  It’s about authenticity and principles, and it is also about courage….doing what you know is right despite loud voices challenging and questioning you.  So, we have ‘The Cold Call Peoples’ Pope’.  What’s your moniker?  And what are you doing about living up to it?


Stay tuned…

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