Inspirational Words To Live By

Prior to my deployment to Iraq with the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks in 2006, our commander had Kent Keith, author of The Paradoxical Commandments, speak to us as part of our Officer Professional Development.

Keith composed the commandments back in 1968 as part of a booklet for student leaders. The commandments spread across the world, with even Mother Teresa putting them on the wall of her children’s home in Calcutta.

As Keith explains in his book, Do It Anyway: The Handbook for Finding Personal Meaning and Deep Happiness in a Crazy World: “I found out about it in September 1997 at my Rotary Club meeting. We usually begin each meeting with a prayer or a thought for the day, and a fellow Rotarian of mine got up and noted that Mother Teresa had died, and said that, in her memory, he wanted to read a poem she had written that was titled Anyway.

“I bowed my head in contemplation, and was astonished to recognize what he read – it was eight of the original 10 Paradoxical Commandments. I went up after the meeting and asked him where he got the poem. He said it was in a book about Mother Teresa, but he couldn’t remember the title. So the next night I went to a bookstore and started looking through the shelf of books about the life and works of Mother Teresa. I found it on the last page before the appendices in Mother Teresa: A Simple Path. The Paradoxical Commandments had been reformatted to look like a poem, and they had been retitled Anyway. There was no author listed, but at the bottom of the page, it said: “From a sign on the wall of Shishu Bhavan, the children’s home in Calcutta.”

Mother Teresa thought The Paradoxical Commandments were important enough to put up on the wall of her children’s home. After Keith saw the impact the commandments had, he began to speak and write about them, publishing a national best-seller and being featured on numerous media outlets.

One interesting fact is that Keith graduated from Roosevelt High School, became a Rhodes Scholar and had a very successful career in Hawaii before recently retiring! For more information and the origin on the commandments, visit

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.