‘Paradoxical Commandments’ withstand time

Published 2:02 pm Tuesday, May 19, 2009

Dr. Kent M. Keith, in 1968, while a sophomore at Harvard wrote, “The Paradoxical Commandments of Leadership” for high school student leaders.

Since that time they have been quoted, misquoted, appropriated and misappropriated by politicians, movie stars, philosophers, preachers, businessmen and commencement speakers. There’s even a story that they were found on the wall of a children’s home in Calcutta where Mother Teresa had taught.

Keith’s principles, while written well over 40 years ago, are just as appropriate today whether you’re just starting out, in the midst of your career, or approaching retirement. They are timeless and appropriate no matter how old you are or how old you may become. Read them carefully and see if you don’t agree:

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 men and women with the smallest minds. Think big anyway.

People favor underdogs but follow only top dogs. Fight for a few underdogs anyway.

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

People really need help but may 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.