Many years ago I was given a copy of The Paradoxical Commandments. At the time, I had no idea where they came from or who wrote them, but they resonated with me in a way that few pithy cliches and life mantras ever did. Here they are:
1. People are illogical, unreasonable, and self-centered. Love them anyway.
2. If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives. Do good anyway.
3. If you are successful, you win false friends and true enemies. Succeed anyway.
4. The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow. Do good anyway.
5. Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
6. The biggest men with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.
7. People favor underdogs, but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.
8. What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
9. People really need help but may attack you if you do help them. Help people anyway.
10. Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth. Give the world the best you have anyway.
© Copyright Kent M. Keith 1968, renewed 2001
I recently circulated these to some colleagues at GRS Group and I decided to dig into their origin a little more.
Turns out they were written in 1968 by a 19 year old Harvard College student from Honolulu, Kent Keith. They were just one part of a booklet Keith published for student leaders. In his words
I saw a lot of idealistic young people go out into the world to do what they thought was right, and good, and true, only to come back a short time later, discouraged, or embittered, because they got negative feedback, or nobody appreciated them, or they failed to get the results they had hoped for.I told them that if they were going to change the world, they had to really love people, and if they did, that love would sustain them. I also told them that they couldn’t be in it for fame or glory. I said that if they did what was right and good and true, they would find meaning and satisfaction, and that meaning and satisfaction would be enough. If they had the meaning, they didn’t need the glory.
Pretty impressive for his age and experience at the time. Mr. Keith went on to a long career as an attorney, non-profit executive and public speaker and still published today. The Paradoxical Commandments have found their way all over the world in print and on the Internet.
Do they resonate with you? What do you think?
ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Andy Brownstein is CFO & General Counsel at GRS Group firstname.lastname@example.org