Prudent Advice

Life Lessons for My Daughter

Category Archives: Work

#201 There’s no need to give disclaimers.

When you present your work (a research paper, a painting, a song) don’t be tempted to qualify it beforehand with a verbal laundry list of possible flaws. Learn to fight off that natural insecurity and present your work for what it is. Let it be judged on its own merits at face value, then critique it afterward with feedback from the group.

#137 Understand that civil rights are the foundation upon which your life is constructed.

No, no, we are not satisfied, and we will not be satisfied until justice rolls down like waters and righteousness like a mighty stream.
I am not unmindful that some of you have come here out of great trials and tribulations. Some of you have come fresh from narrow jail cells. Some of you have come from areas where your quest for freedom left you battered by the storms of persecution and staggered by the winds of police brutality. You have been the veterans of creative suffering. Continue to work with the faith that unearned suffering is redemptive.
Go back to Mississippi, go back to Alabama, go back to South Carolina, go back to Georgia, go back to Louisiana, go back to the slums and ghettos of our northern cities, knowing that somehow this situation can and will be changed. Let us not wallow in the valley of despair.
I say to you today, my friends, so even though we face the difficulties of today and tomorrow, I still have a dream. It is a dream deeply rooted in the American dream.
I have a dream that one day this nation will rise up and live out the true meaning of its creed: “We hold these truths to be self-evident: that all men are created equal.”
I have a dream that one day on the red hills of Georgia the sons of former slaves and the sons of former slave owners will be able to sit down together at the table of brotherhood.
I have a dream that one day even the state of Mississippi, a state sweltering with the heat of injustice, sweltering with the heat of oppression, will be transformed into an oasis of freedom and justice.
I have a dream that my four little children will one day live in a nation where they will not be judged by the color of their skin but by the content of their character.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day, down in Alabama, with its vicious racists, with its governor having his lips dripping with the words of interposition and nullification; one day right there in Alabama, little black boys and black girls will be able to join hands with little white boys and white girls as sisters and brothers.
I have a dream today.
I have a dream that one day every valley shall be exalted, every hill and mountain shall be made low, the rough places will be made plain, and the crooked places will be made straight, and the glory of the Lord shall be revealed, and all flesh shall see it together.
This is our hope. This is the faith that I go back to the South with. With this faith we will be able to hew out of the mountain of despair a stone of hope. With this faith we will be able to transform the jangling discords of our nation into a beautiful symphony of brotherhood. With this faith we will be able to work together, to pray together, to struggle together, to go to jail together, to stand up for freedom together, knowing that we will be free one day.
This will be the day when all of God’s children will be able to sing with a new meaning, “My country, ’tis of thee, sweet land of liberty, of thee I sing. Land where my fathers died, land of the pilgrim’s pride, from every mountainside, let freedom ring.”
And if America is to be a great nation this must become true. So let freedom ring from the prodigious hilltops of New Hampshire. Let freedom ring from the mighty mountains of New York. Let freedom ring from the heightening Alleghenies of Pennsylvania!
Let freedom ring from the snowcapped Rockies of Colorado!
Let freedom ring from the curvaceous slopes of California!
But not only that; let freedom ring from Stone Mountain of Georgia!
Let freedom ring from Lookout Mountain of Tennessee!
Let freedom ring from every hill and molehill of Mississippi. From every mountainside, let freedom ring.
And when this happens, when we allow freedom to ring, when we let it ring from every village and every hamlet, from every state and every city, we will be able to speed up that day when all of God’s children, black men and white men, Jews and Gentiles, Protestants and Catholics, will be able to join hands and sing in the words of the old Negro spiritual, “Free at last! free at last! thank God Almighty, we are free at last!”
August 1963. Martin Luther King, Jr.

#121 Read the fine print.

Your signature on a document still means something. More specifically, it means that you have obligations that can be enforced in court. The smaller the print and the more of it there is, the more likely something is being obfuscated. Read the document in its entirety, make sure you understand it, and negotiate changes before you sign anything.

#114 Dress appropriately for work.

Whatever your job is, choose clothes that are correct for that workplace; namely attire that is safe, clean and (at most workplaces) free of cleavage. You might feel like your clothes are an expression of who you are, and you want to be that person even at work. But I have found that “who you are” is often also someone who wants a promotion and a raise, and that doesn’t happen if your clothing is distracting. It isn’t about being pretty or what brands you wear or which skirt best reflects your inner self, it’s just about taking the focus off your clothes and onto your work. If you aren’t sure, it could help to look at the way your boss dresses and take a similar approach.

#112 Define a space for your work.

Virginia Woolf said that every writer needs a room of her own. In other words, if you have a desire to write or make art, or create anything – a quilt, a song – you need to make a space in your home and your schedule for that work to happen, and you need to be protective of that space.

#67 Word is bond.

My choice of words will probably make me sound so old to you, but my point is: Be A Woman of Your Word. Your integrity is the source of your self-esteem and the esteem others hold you in. You may not always adhere to the most stringent set of ethical and moral principles, but if you strive to represent yourself and your intentions truthfully you will sleep well most nights.