When Things Become Challenging, We All Need Some Inspiration

The COVID-19 pandemic is not the first big challenge we have faced, collectively or individually. Today, it is not the only challenge that confronts each of us. When confronted with difficulties, it’s easy for us to experience frustration and stress. We can even lose our will to continue to move forward. We can doubt ourselves and lose our way. We can feel burned out and uninspired.

From time to time, we all need some inspiration.

Saint (Mother) Teresa of Calcutta understood that. On the wall of one of her homes for children in India, someone had hung a poem by Dr. Kent M. Keith. He wrote the poem in 1968 and revised it in 2001. During his long career, Keith has served as a YMCA executive, President of two private universities, and CEO of two nonprofit organizations. He understands the pressures faced by those who work in the nonprofit sector. He also understands our need for inspiration.

My wife recently shared Keith’s poem with me. I enjoyed it so much, I decided to share it with you. I hope you like it as much as I do. If so, you’ll find some information at the end of this post for how you can get a free copy of Keith’s latest book.

Here is The Paradoxical Commandments:


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.


In his latest book, Keith explains the thinking behind The Paradoxical Commandments:

The Paradoxical Commandments are guidelines for finding personal meaning in the face of adversity. So each one starts with a statement about something that is difficult or adverse. But each statement of adversity is followed by a positive commandment to do the right thing— the meaningful thing— anyway. Times can be tough. But no matter what the world does to us, we get to decide how to respond. And we can always respond in a way that is meaningful to us. We can always find meaning by facing the worst in the world with the best in ourselves.”

If you would like to learn more about Dr. Kent M. Keith and download his free book, The Paradox of Personal Meaning, click here.

As you go about your day, I want you to keep one other thing in mind. Because of who you are and the good, meaningful work you do, you serve as an inspiration to many. Thank you!

Now, it’s your turn to help further inspire others. What are some of the ways you stay inspired?

That’s what Michael Rosen says… What do you say?

6 Comments to “When Things Become Challenging, We All Need Some Inspiration”

  1. I have seen this poem attributed to Mother Teresa, so thanks for the clarification.

  2. Thanks Michael (and Dr. Keith) good reminders.

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