It’s never a good idea to assume anything. After leaving church today, the opportunity came up to follow through on my own advice. So I did.

During the priest’s sermon, he read a poem that struck a chord with me. It had a theme with the word, anyway, repeated throughout the piece.

Photo courtesy of TheBusyBrain and Flickr Creative Commons

Photo courtesy of TheBusyBrain and Flickr Creative Commons

As I exited the church, Father Joseph was greeting parishioners so I stopped to ask him who wrote the poem. “Mother Teresa” he replied. My eyebrows went up, I nodded my head in agreement, smiled, shook his hand, and drove home feeling really good about the service.

As Paul Harvey would say, now “the rest of the story.”

Wanting to read the poem again, I searched the internet to discover, Mother Teresa never penned the piece after all. The real author is Kent Keith who wrote “The Paradoxical Commandments” in 1968 as a 19 year old student at Harvard, as part of a booklet for student leaders titled, The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council.

Someone from Mother Teresa’s circle of influence modified the original version of Kent’s beautifully written leadership poem, using only eight of the commandments, and put them up on the wall of a children’s home in Calcutta, and titled it “Anyway.”

Since it’s writing, “The Paradoxical Commandments” has been delivered in speeches and writings around the globe  by CEO’s, teachers, university president’s, rock stars, parents, military commanders, spiritual leaders, and yes, coaches.

Dr. Keith learned about the use of his poem in 1997, almost 30 years after they were published. After learning about Mother Teresa’s use of his work, he decided to talk more about the commandments.

Kent, I’m sure, forgave Mother Teresa. In fact, he was flattered with the connection between his prose and the iconic spiritual leader.

To be honest, if it weren’t for her name associated with the poem, I might not have paid that much attention to it.

I encourage you to visit Dr. Kent M. Keith’s website and learn more about the man and his teachings.

At some point down the road, I’ll say something more about a verse or two. For now, I think this beautifully written piece stands on it’s own just fine. Enjoy.


The Paradoxical Commandments – by Dr. Kent M. Keith

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.


Which of the verses resonates with you, and why?




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