Inspiration from Dolly Parton

Figuring out the topic for the first post for my website was a little tough! I made it easier on myself by looking back at my older blog and picking the post I wrote on Dolly Parton. In that post, I talk about the commencement speech Dolly delivered to the outgoing class at the University of Tennessee. The speech is very inspirational for me and I felt it was an appropriate first post for the blog.

I watched this video about 2 years back and I have kept returning to this speech for inspiration and motivation. When I listened to this speech for the first time, I was not  sure I would watch the entire video given my short attention span! Frankly, I did not know what to expect. 2 minutes into the speech and I was completely hooked! I had found an unexpected gem and I am very glad that I did.

After listening to the entire speech, I was struck by the simplicity, authenticity and power of the message. There was something in that speech that resonated very deeply within me. The speech was profound, philosophical, humorous, and made quite an impact on me. Immediately after listening to Dolly, I asked my wife to watch the video. She liked it as well.

In the past 2 years, I found myself going back and listening to this speech whenever I felt an urge to listen to an an uplifting message to brighten up, bring energy and purpose to my day.

I tried searching for other videos of Dolly Parton and could not find anything that came close to what I had experienced after listening to her commencement speech. I decided it would be a good idea to share aspects of the speech that I enjoyed.

  • Authentic

What struck me about Dolly was her authenticity. She talked openly about her looks –  wigs, big breasts,  push-up bras, high-heeled shoes and tight clothes. I found her authenticity refreshing and enjoyed listening to a person who was supremely confident about who she was.  I was struck by the part where Dolly mentions her idea of fashion was inspired from a “town trollop” that lived near Sevierville, Tennessee.

This part of the speech resonated with me, as there are many times I do not speak the truth and am afraid to express my feelings. I am also a little skeptical when I try to talk about people who have influenced me as I believe I may be judged “negatively”.

Just listening and watching Dolly being truthful and humorous about her beliefs and background continues to be a great learning experience for me. It has helped me realize that I need not be afraid of who I am, my beliefs, and my background.

  • Great stories

The best part about Dolly’s speech were the stories. These stories helped me relate to Dolly and connect with her message.  The stories helped make her message much more vivid and powerful. This was a valuable lesson for me when I do my own presentations!

I could visualize Dolly at her home with a tin can attached to the end of her broom and singing her heart out for the chickens. I could sense the passion that Dolly had for music at such a early age. I could  feel the strength of Dolly’s convictions when she narrated an incident in her high school when everybody laughed when she mentions her dream to become a Star. Dolly never allowed this embarrassment to stand in the way of achieving her dreams.

  • Uplifting messages

Dolly’s message to students was simple:
Dream More, Learn More, Care More, and Be More.

I do not have words to describe how simple and powerful this message is. Each “component” of the message was packed with great insights. My personal favorites were:

  1. Dolly’s mindset about Dreams and how we should stay true to our hearts and dreams. I liked Dolly’s distinction between Dreams and wishes. Dreams light a fire in our gut and we are willing to pay the price to achieve our Dreams.
  2. Dolly’s request to take complete responsibility for our actions and not blame somebody if we cannot achieve our dreams.
  3. Dolly’s message about continuous learning and taking chances and not being afraid to try something new.
  4. Dolly’s message about pursuing excellence and not being mediocre.
  • Spiritual side

At the end of the speech, Dolly talks about how all of us can Be More. She mentions how each one of us has a “God Core” – our spiritual center, according to Dolly the place where heaven and earth meet (17:10 mark in the speech). Dolly emphasizes the need for us to listen to our “God core”. For the past couple of months, I am coming across various references to this “God Core” –  “Essential Self” according to Martha Beck, “Psychic being” according to Sri Aurobindo.

In all honesty, I do not mentally grasp what the “God Core”, “Essential Self”, “Psychic being” is. At the same time, there is a part of me that believes that each one of us has a divine core in our beings. I believe that Dolly has a deeper understanding of life. I believe part of her stupendous success can be attributed to the fact that she listens to her “God core”.

My hope, wish and desire is that all of us can connect with our “God Cores” and live a fulfilled and “limitless” life.

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