Two Dozen Basic Management Principles (Pt. 2)


Part One

1991 – 2001

Chapter One

Kimotong (Sudan)


In 1991, Lopez had his eyes closed in prayer when the trucks pulled up. He heard them before he saw them. The soldiers poured into the small outdoor Catholic church yelling: “Everybody down! Now!”  Lopez knew that Sudan was at war but he never expected to see soldiers invade a church service.


The priest tried to reason with them. The leader of the soldiers ignored them. “We’re taking the children!” he screamed. Lopez did not know it at the time, but his childhood had just ended. He was only six years old.


Lopez was placed into a hot, dirty, metal truck covered by a green canopy on the top and the sides. For the next four hours, he endured his very first truck ride. The summer sun beat down on top of the truck turning the dirt in the truck bed into mud from the sweat pouring off too many bodies in too little of a space.


When the truck stopped, the children had hoods placed over their heads. The hooded children placed hands on the person in front of them and were herded for several miles. The end of the journey was a shove into a one-room hut. This one-room hut became home to eighty children.


For the next several weeks, Lopez lived in this single, one-room hut. He had no mat to sleep on. He had to endure the hot summer days and cold summer nights. He had to learn how to eat sorghum while avoiding the sand that had been mixed in to stretch the porridge. He had to learn how to accept the stench of children doing their “business” in the hut because they were beaten if they asked to do it outside. He saw children not waking up and quickly learned that they had died right in front of him.


The older boys were taken out for hours at a time to be trained in how to become soldiers. The younger boys were just left to die. They were simply not strong enough to carry rifles and become soldiers. The transformation of the older boys took only a matter of weeks. Soon they would be soldiers, ready to go off and fight. The question now became, when their training was complete, “What would become of the young boys who managed to still be living?” What would they do with Lopez?


Management Lesson #1 — Do Not Panic

It is easy to panic when we are given a task that it overwhelming. It is easy to panic when the unexpected occurs. It is easy to panic when disaster strikes. Don’t! Like Lopez Lomong, we need to keep our heads. We need to focus on the solution to the problem, not the problem itself. We need to be strong for those that look to us for leadership. We need to not panic.


[1] Lopez Lomong with Mark Tabb, Running for My Life. Thomas Nelson Press, Nashville.

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