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As the story goes, author Kent M. Keith was a sophomore at Harvard University in the 1960s when he first wrote "The Paradoxical Commandments," a manifesto about doing good in a crazy, ungrateful world. These commandments are the basis of his repackaged and expanded book Anyway. Since his Harvard days, Keith's commandments have taken on a life of their own. They have been quoted by the Boy Scouts of America and written on inspirational office memos, classroom handouts, and Internet sites around the world. They have even been discovered in Mother Teresa's children's home in Calcutta. Now Keith has stepped forward to explain his commandments and speak to his credo for doing "the right thing." Readers will probably recognize the commandments:
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.
No doubt about it--these are provocative and encouraging statements, reminding us that there are no guarantees or tangible rewards for doing good in the world. Each commandment gets its own chapter, where Keith elaborates on the theme with personal anecdotes, famous stories, and advice. Though Keith is obviously a gifted and wise leader, the words and explanations surrounding each commandment often feel like overkill. As in Robert Fulghum's All I Really Need to Know I Learned in Kindergarten, these guidelines ultimately make a better poster than a book. Even so, fans of the original "Paradoxical Commandments" will certainly enjoy meeting the voice and integrity of the man behind the words. --Gail Hudson [via]