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25 Lessons for Life

by Marion Wright Edelman

  1. There is no free lunch. Don’t feel enti­tled to any­thing you don’t sweat and strug­gle for.
  2. Set goals and work qui­et­ly and sys­tem­at­i­cal­ly toward them.
  3. Assign your­self.
  4. Nev­er work for just mon­ey or for pow­er. They won’t save your soul or build a decent fam­i­ly or help you sleep at night.
  5. Don’t be afraid of tak­ing risks or of being crit­i­cized.
  6. Take par­ent­ing and fam­i­ly life seri­ous­ly and insist that those you work for and who rep­re­sent you do.
  7. Remem­ber that your wife/husband is not your mother/father or ser­vant, but your part­ner and friend.
  8. Form­ing fam­i­lies is seri­ous busi­ness.
  9. Be hon­est.
  10. Remem­ber and help Amer­i­ca remem­ber that the fel­low­ship of human beings is more impor­tant that the fel­low­ship of race and class and gen­der in a demo­c­ra­t­ic soci­ety.
  11. Sell the shad­ow for the sub­stance.
  12. Nev­er give up!
  13. Be con­fi­dent that you can make a dif­fer­ence.
  14. Don’t ever stop learn­ing and improv­ing your mind.
  15. Don’t be afraid of hard work or teach­ing your chil­dren to work.
  16. Slow down and live.
  17. Choose your friends care­ful­ly.
  18. Be a can-do, will-try per­son.
  19. Try to live in the present.
  20. Use your polit­i­cal and eco­nom­ic pow­er for the com­mu­ni­ty.
  21. Lis­ten for “the sound of the gen­uine” with­in your­self and oth­ers.
  22. You are in charge of your own atti­tude.
  23. Remem­ber your roots, your his­to­ry, and the fore­bears’ shoul­der on which you stand.
  24. Be reli­able. Be faith­ful. Fin­ish what you start.
  25. Always remem­ber that you are nev­er alone.

Thanks to Lau­rie Mann for remind­ing me of this won­der­ful essay.