New Year’s Wisdom from Dolly Parton

“Find out who you are and do it on purpose.” Dolly Parton

Years ago, I heard a radio interview with Dolly Parton that made a big impression on me. Among other things, she spoke about what it means to have a “real life”

Dolly described at length her impoverished upbringing in the hills of Tennessee. When the conversation moved on to her early days as a performer, the interviewer asked her how she came to develop her larger-than-life public persona. Dolly laughed and shared that it wasn’t an act. It was the real her.

Seems when she was little she was awestruck by a lady she saw around her town whom she thought was the most beautiful and cool person she ever imagined. She resolved to be just like her one day. And she succeeded, in the form of the Dolly Parton we all know.  At the end of the discussion about this, Dolly laughed and mentioned that the lady she adored so much was “one of those ladies.”

While driving recently, I tuned in to another interview with Dolly which reinforced her strong sense of self.  She mentioned the quote above, which is in one of her songs, and described how she knew from an early age who she wanted to be and purposefully went out and made it happen. No worrying about what others would think. No trying to please others. Just being herself always and doing and being what made her happy.

I run into a lot of people who don’t seem to have a real self. They fumble through life trying to be things they’re not. You know the kind. From day to day you’re not sure who you’re going to get when you run into them.

Like the manager who changes their philosophy from week to week depending on which business book they read over the weekend or which inspirational speaker they heard at their last convention. (And everyone around them struggles to keep up with the revolving messages and the new expectation about the right way to build a successful company.)

Or the politician who bends this way and that depending on who they’re talking to. They seem unable to live by a core set of values and beliefs about who they are and what they stand for. Everything is situational including their integrity and promises to constituents.

I have a New Year’s resolution for you. Heed the example of Dolly Parton. Always be your true self. If you don’t already know who you are, it’s not too late to find out. Take a clarity break and spend some time thinking about your beliefs, your actions, your life. Drill down until you hit bedrock and can drill no further.

Perhaps you’ll need to adjust the real you if it turns out some aspects are not so good. Make the changes intentionally and permanently.

Perhaps the real you is so wonderful you can’t believe you’ve been hiding it. Or perhaps you’ve always known who you are and have always shown your true self.

In any case go forth re-charged and ready to be the person you truly are…always.

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