The One Leadership Technique That Truly Inspires Greatness: A Story About the Dalai Lama

One of my favorite stories is about a woman who took her son to see the Dalai Lama. She asked, “Dalai Lama, can you please tell my son to stop eating sugar. It’s not good for him, and he won’t listen to me. He respects you, and I know he will listen to you.”

The Dalai Lama said, “Fine. Come back in three weeks.”

Three weeks later, the woman came back with her son. The Dalai Lama was ready, and he said, “Son, you should stop eating sugar. It is not good for you.”

The woman was pleased, but also confused. She said, “Why did it take you so long to say a simple thing?.”

The Dalai Lama replied, “When you first came to me, I had not stopped eating sugar myself.”


This story reminds me of the people in my life who have been the best teachers. It’s easy to preach but the most inspirational people lead by example. Through the years I’ve learned to only ask advice from people who are where I want to be. Everyone has struggles – it’s how you handle it. That’s what I look at and respect.

I used to pretend to play teacher with my stuffed animals when I was a kid. Now I get to do it in real life when I teach my photography workshops, or give advice when friends ask for it (another huge thing I’ve learned is to NEVER try and help/guide someone unless they come to you and ask). It feels good to practice what I preach. It’s a confidence booster and frankly, I would feel like a shitty person otherwise.

If that woman and her son came to me I would have to say, “Go ask someone else lady. I’m on my way to get a Mocha Frappaccino.”

This Post Has 2 Comments

  1. Steve

    Is this story true and how do I verify it?

  2. Patrick O'Toole

    Yes but I’m certain that it was Gandhi not Dalai lama

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