COMMENTARY 886.2: The Paradoxical Commandments

by Michael Josephson on June 30, 2014

in Commentaries, Leadership, Public Service, Service, Success & Failure

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In 1968, when Kent M. Keith was a 19-year-old sophomore at Harvard, he wrote the Paradoxical Commandments as part of a booklet for student leaders. He describes the Commandments as guidelines for finding personal meaning in the face of adversity:

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 will 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 and women with the biggest ideas can be shot down by the smallest men and women 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.*

The essence of these Commandments is that each of us must choose to do what we think we should do, even when we think we have good reasons not to. They remind us that we are capable of rising above common practices that demean our nature and our culture.

We can rationalize distorting the Golden Rule as “Do unto others as they have done unto you” or “Do unto others before they do unto you,” but, in the parlanceĀ of the 60s, we then become part of the problem rather than part of the solution.

To learn more about Dr. Keith and his work, visit www.kentmkeith.com.

This is Michael Josephson reminding you that character counts.

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{ 1 comment… read it below or add one }

Rod Thomson June 20, 2013 at 5:59 pm

Thank you for sharing Kent Keith’s work. I have been fortunate to hear him speak and provide a workshop on servant leadership.
You might also be interested in his work on “The Universal Moral Code” of the things we believe across cultures and religious divides.

Cheers,
Rod

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