The Paradoxical Commandments

March 22, 2009 at 6:53 pm 3 comments

by Lauren Kennedy

The Paradoxical Commandments.

People are illogical, unreasonable and self-centered.
Love them Anyway.

If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish ulterior motives.
Do good Anyway.

If you are successful, you will win false friends and true enemies.
Succeed Anyway.

The good you do today will be forgotten tomorrow.
Do good Anyway.

Honesty and frankness make you vulnerable.
Be honest and frank Anyway.

The biggest men and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest mean and women with the smallest minds.
Think big Anyway.

People favor underdogs by follow only top dogs.
Fight for the underdogs Anyway.

What you spend years building may be destroyed overnight.
Build Anyway.

People really need help but many attack you if you do help them.
Help people Anyway.

Give the world the best you have and you’ll get kicked in the teeth.
Give the world the best you have Anyway.

These commandments have a curious history. They were originally written by a high school student as a booklet for student leadership in the sixties. There were thirty thousand copies published by the National Association for Secondary Schools.

Thirty years later, the author Kent M. Keith,  discovered the Paradoxical Commandments in a book about Mother Teresa. She had hung them on a wall in one of her children’s homes. They had also made
their  way to a librarians internet site, and to a Professor from the University of Southern California who used them to begin her classes each semester.

Since then Kent Keith has written a short book entitled “Anyway” which briefly explores each commandment. It is a wonderfully insightful book. One of my favorite passages is as follows:

What is important is not whether anyone remembers. What is important is who you are as a person. What matters is how you live. If you are living authentically and generously, you won’t worry about whether anybody else knows or remembers.

We don’t have to prove that we are right, heroic or gracious to the world. In fact the act of doing so is more about our ego than about doing the next right thing. Demeaning or attacking others to gain support for our point of view is akin to shooting someone to resolve an argument. Instead, we must gain our motivation from within, and trust that those who are willing or able will follow our lead.

Here is a short poem by Emily Dickinson that illustrates the importance of a caring act, which is often more significant than leading and promoting a popular movement.

If I can stop one Heart from breaking
I shall not live in vain.
If I can ease one Life the Aching
Or cool one Pain
Or help one fainting Robin
Unto his Nest again

I shall not live in Vain.

If you wish to live authentically, to realize your potential, to give your best to the world, please contact me for a free 30 minute consultation.


Phone: 513-889-1870


Entry filed under: Piority, Motive and Intention, Self Esteem, The Essence of Freedom. Tags: , , , , , .

Changes Worth is Not Measured in Dollars or IQ

3 Comments Add your own

  • 1. arielle81  |  March 22, 2009 at 7:28 pm


    I was just flipping through the tags and came across your post. I just wanted to say that I really enjoyed it. It brought out a lot of good and important points.
    Something that came to mind as I was reading it was relevant to this past week. I was with someone in a not so great section of town and we came across a couple of beggars and the person I was with said that they used to give to people along the street who were in need, but as time went on they became concerned about some of them wasting the money on booze and drugs. They didn’t really know what to do , wanting to help, but not wanting to be taken advantage of.
    I know that this is one of those sticky situations that has been the subject of many discussions, but here is my thought and advice. Personally, I believe that it is better to help what and when I can and do my part and the good I was raised to share and if those that I give to do not make the right choices that is not my responsibility. As long as I have done the best that I can and take care of what is my responsibility then I walk away with hope.

    • 2. laurenpkennedy  |  March 22, 2009 at 10:11 pm

      Hi Arielle,

      Thanks for your comment. I agree. When we give, it needs to be without expectation or control. If we have expectations or conditions, then it is an exchange, not a gift.


  • 3. JOSHUA  |  September 11, 2010 at 9:38 am



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