Do Good Anyway

By: Glenda Lofton, Ph.D.

Apr 14, 2020

Many of you know that I began my career as a second grade teacher in a small neighborhood school. As a teacher, I always put a major emphasis on students’ writing. Not only did it help students develop their reading and thinking skills, but the thoughts of children brightened my day and motivated my efforts. One of my favorite memories is of four active little boys— Joey, Rex, Paul, and Jocko--that I taught in 1973-74. They knew how much I liked to read what they wrote and so for two weeks they met every day after school to write me stories. Near the end of the school year, they presented me with a collection of mini-books that they had written, illustrated and stapled together. This remains one of my most treasured gifts—even with the final line in Joey’s book which stated, “I love you, you nice old lady, you!”  

For eleven years I taught second grade. For the most part my students loved me, the parents appreciated me, and my coworkers supported me. My principal came by my classroom each day to tell my students that I was the best teacher in the whole world and that they were the best students in the whole world. Of course, he told every teacher and every classroom that, but we all loved hearing it anyway.  

When I got my Ph.D. and entered what I came to refer to as the grownup world of work, I was in for quite a shock. The difference was probably intensified by the fact that I went to work in a statewide school improvement project where I went into schools that were having problems and said, “I’m from the state, and I’m here to help you.” For the first time, I encountered people who questioned my knowledge and my motives, people who were fearful of change, people whose trust I had to earn, and some who were not willing to put forth the time and effort required for improvement. With the project’s success came a new set of challenges which I was even less prepared for—people who believed so much in the project that their praise led others to resent and question our success. When economic conditions in our state required budget cuts, the project was targeted by the legislature as one to be eliminated. With no urging from us, parents and educators across the state who had seen their schools transformed by the project traveled in large groups to the capital to lobby on our behalf. The legislators were bombarded with telephone calls and letters in support of the project. In response, the legislators voted to continue the project’s funding. We were elated, but the next day, the newspaper headline declared, “Politically Popular Program Refunded”. Instead of discussing the merits of the program and the loyalty it had earned, the article implied “politics as usual” in Louisiana.  

Many days I got discouraged. On one of those days the deputy superintendent sent me a single red rose and the following poem. Unfortunately I do not know the author, but it was entitled “Thoughts to Ponder.”  

     “People are unreasonable, illogical, self-centered. Love them anyway.
     If you do good, people will accuse you of selfish motives. Do good anyway.
     If you are successful, you will win false friends and real enemies. Try to be successful anyway.
     The good you do will be forgotten tomorrow. Do it anyway.
     Honesty and frankness will make you vulnerable. Be honest and frank anyway.
     People favor the underdog, but they chum up to the top dog. Fight for the underdog anyway.
     What you spend years building can be destroyed overnight. Build anyway.
     Give the world the best you have and chances are you will get kicked in the teeth. Give it anyway.”  

Today I have a new appreciation for those in the workplace and in our government who work for the common good, who stand for something, and are willing to take risks for what they believe. As I listen to the harsh words and personal attacks on people in leadership roles, particularly the current presidential candidates, I sometimes wonder why people subject themselves to such criticism. Then I think of this poem and another principle that helps me persevere, “If you don’t want to be criticized, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.”  

In a democracy, all of us have the opportunity to do something. And as the Apostle Paul reminds us, “Let us not be weary in well doing.” (Galatians 6:9) “Be kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake has forgiven you.” (Ephesians 4:32)

About Lofton: Founded in 1979, Lofton Services offers clients the best of all worlds. We provide the responsive, personal service and flexibility of a small local firm while having the technology, resources, and infrastructure to deliver the benefits of the biggest players in our industry. Lofton Staffing can deliver the right people, with the right skills, right when you need them. Contact us today


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We Believe...

Relationships are built…one on one.
Know your people - match interest and talents to the tasks.
Don’t manage by numbers. (They just show if we’re on track.) People do the work.
People should feel better when they leave than when they came – and in turn we feel better.
When we help others, we help ourselves.
Great expectations: fair pay, fair treatment, teach me.
Have fun…and be better.
Work at having fun (51% of the time.) If you don’t feel it, fake it. Having fun is not slacking off. Work is more natural than play.