Monday, October 10, 2011

The Paradoxical Commandments

You may have heard of the poem “Anyway:” It is traditionally contributed to Mother Teresa, (1910-1997) the Roman Catholic nun who lived and served the poor in India.

Mother Teresa's Anyway Poem

People are often unreasonable, illogical and self centered;
Forgive them anyway.

If you are kind, people may accuse you of selfish, ulterior motives;
Be kind anyway.

If you are successful, you will win some false friends and some true enemies;
Succeed anyway.

If you are honest and frank, people may cheat you;
Be honest and frank anyway.

What you spend years building, someone could destroy overnight;
Build anyway.

If you find serenity and happiness, they may be jealous;
Be happy anyway.

The good you do today, people will often forget tomorrow;
Do good anyway.

Give the world the best you have, and it may never be enough;
Give the world the best you've got anyway.

You see, in the final analysis, it is between you and your God;
It was never between you and them anyway.

[Reportedly inscribed on the wall of Mother Teresa's children's home in Calcutta, and attributed to her. However, an article in the New York Times has since reported (March 8, 2002) that the original version of this poem was written by Kent M. Keith.]

When I went to a bookstore recently, I found a book called “TheParadoxical Commandments” by Dr. Kent M. Keith.  I learned that he originally composed the poem back in 1960’s as a Harvard student.  When he learned later that Mother Teresa  had posted the poem in the Calcutta children’s home, he was naturally very surprised and felt honored that a woman of her stature paid attention to his poem.  That’s when he wrote the book “Anyway – The Paradoxical Commandments.” 

Here is Dr. Kent Keith’s version of Anyway:

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.

By reading up on Dr. Keith, I also learned that he is the CEO of the GreenleafCenter.  The Greenleaf Center is the training group for Servant Leadership about which I wrote about in my last blog. Isn’t that a coincidence?  

For those who love Mother Teresa; she did write her own poem about LIFE:

Life is an opportunity, benefit from it.

Life is beauty, admire it.

Life is bliss, taste it.

Life is a dream, realize it.

Life is a challenge, meet it.

Life is a duty, complete it.

Life is a game, play it.

Life is costly, care for it.

Life is wealth, keep it.

Life is love, enjoy it.

Life is mystery, know it.

Life is a promise, fulfill it.

Life is sorrow, overcome it.

Life is a song, sing it.

Life is a struggle, accept it.

Life is tragedy, confront it.

Life is an adventure, dare it.

Life is luck, make it.

Life is too precious, do not destroy it.

Life is life, fight for it.

Life certainly takes many different turns.  It is our challenge to surrender to the journey and to accept rewards as a special blessing.  Rather than looking for the reward we want to do good for goodness sakes. It is wonderful that we have examples of leadership like that of Mother Teresa and Dr. Kent M. Keith.

1 comment:

Yusun said...

this is one of my all-time favorite poems... i have it posted on my wall next to my bed to remind me often the value and importance of integrity. i've heard that the poem was originally written by Kent Keith, but i wasn't aware that he wrote a book about it... i'd be very interested to read the book someday. :)