The Paradoxical Commandments were written by Kent Keith when he was 19, a sophomore at Harvard College. He wrote them as part of a book for student leaders entitled ‘The Silent Revolution: Dynamic Leadership in the Student Council’, published by Harvard Student Agencies in 1968.
• 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 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 & you’ll get kicked in the teeth. … Give the world the best you have anyway.
Regarding the Commandments, Kent states, “I laid down the Paradoxical Commandments as a challenge. The challenge is to always do what is right and good and true, even if others don’t appreciate it.”
“You have to keep striving, no matter what, because if you don’t, many of the things that need to be done in our world will never get done.”
Mother Teresa put them up on the wall of her children’s home in Calcutta; they were titled ‘Anyway.’ It consisted of eight of the original ten Paradoxical Commandments, reformatted as a poem. As a result, some people have incorrectly attributed the Paradoxical Commandments to her.
Dr. Kent Keith graduated from Roosevelt High School in Honolulu in 1966. He served as the Director of the State of Hawaiʻi Department of Planning and Economic Development.
For six years he served as President of Chaminade University of Honolulu, for five and a half years he was Senior Vice President for Development & Communications for the YMCA of Honolulu, and later served as CEO of Greenleaf Center for Servant Leadership (Indiana and Singapore). He is now president of Pacific Rim Christian University in Honolulu.