The Anam Cara – Friend of the Soul

My family and I went to an Irish goods store over the weekend.  As I skimmed through limerick books, I was reminded of the many stories my Irish Grandmother told.  I bought a book titled Anam Cara, a Book of Celtic Wisdom by John O’Donohue.  The name comes from the early Celtic tradition of a person who acts as a teacher and guide; that person was called the Anam Cara, or friend of the soul.  The book has many fables that teach Celtic lessons on various aspects of life.  One fable called “The King and the Beggar’s Gift” taught that difficult situations are often disguised opportunities for growth.

As I am reading Anam Cara, I am reminded of one of American History’s most famous leaders, Abraham Lincoln.  It is said that among his favorite books growing up were the Bible, Aesop’s Fables and The Pilgrim’s Progress.  Each one of these great books taught its lessons through parables, fables and allegories.

We know that Abraham Lincoln was a great story-teller. He often disarmed a crowd or an adversary with a folksy tale in which they could see themselves and understand his point of view.

As a leader, you are your team’s teacher and guide.  If you want to be their friend of the soul, their Anam Cara, you have to connect with them personally.   Following the path of great leaders before us, I recommend using parables, fables, or allegories to teach and guide.  Nothing gets to the heart like a well told story.

 Scroll to top