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25 Lessons for Life

Marian Wright Edelman, founder of the Children’s Defense Fund and overall force of nature, published The Measure of Our Success in 1993 as a guidebook to life for her 3 sons. This book included 25 lessons for life; it’s a pretty solid list.

LESSON 1: “There is no free lunch. Don’t feel entitled to anything you don’t sweat and struggle for.”

LESSON 2: “Set goals and work quietly and systematically toward them…You can achieve much in life if you don’t mind doing the work and giving others the credit. You know what you do and the Lord knows what you do and that’s all that matters.”

LESSON 3: “Assign yourself…Hard work, iniative, and persistence are still the nonmagic carpets to success.”

LESSON 4: “Never work just for money or for power. They won’t save your soul or build a decent family, or help you sleep at night.”

LESSON 5: “Don’t be afraid of taking risks or of being criticized…An anonymous sage said, ‘If you don’t want to be criticized don’t say anything, do anything, or be anything.”

LESSON 6: “Take parenting and family life seriously and insist that those you work for and represent you do.”

LESSON 7: “Remember that your wife is not your mother or your maid, but your partner and friend.” Also remember, “Superwoman simply died of exhaustion.”

LESSON 8: “Forming families is serious business.”

LESSON 9: “Be honest.”

LESSON 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.”

LESSON 11: “Sell the shadow for the substance…Don’t confuse style with meaning.”

LESSON 12: “Never give up…an old proverb reminds: ‘When you get to your wit’s end, remember that God lives there.’”

LESSON 13: “Be confident that you can make a difference…Try to take each day and each task as they come, breaking them down into manageable pieces for action while struggling to see the whole.”

LESSON 14: “Don’t ever stop learning and improving your mind.”

LESSON 15: “Don’t be afraid of hard work or of teaching your children to work…Work is dignity and caring and the foundation for a life with meaning.”

LESSON 16: “Slow down and live.”

LESSON 17: “Choose your friends carefully…You are the person you must compete with and be accountable for.”

LESSON 18: “Be a can-do, will-try person…dream it, have faith in it, and struggle for it– as long as it takes.”

LESSON 19: “Try to live in the present.”

LESSON 20: “Use your political and economic power for the community and others less fortunate.”

LESSON 21: “Listen for the sound of the genuine within yourself and others…There are so many noises and pulls and competing demands in our lives that many of us never find out who we are. Learn to be quiet enough to hear the sound of the genuine within yourself so that you can hear it in other people.”

LESSON 22: “You are in charge of your own attitude…Don’t make excuses…It is where you are headed not where you are from that will determine where you end up.”

LESSON 23: “Remember your roots, your history, and the forebears’ shoulders on which you stand.”

LESSON 24: “Be reliable. Be faithful. Finish what you start.”

LESSON 25: “Always remember that you are never alone.”

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