Martin Luther King, A Mighty Purpose and Career Success

Today is Martin Luther King Day in the USA.  Dr. King is a personal hero of mine.  He awakened my interest in social issues.  I was just two weeks past my 13th birthday on August 28, 1963 when I heard his “I Have a Dream” speech.

His words were powerful.  Here is the end of that mesmerizing 17 minutes…

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!”

I bring up this speech to celebrate Dr. King’s legacy.  I also bring it up on this career success blog because there is some great career advice to be found in it.  Tweet 4 in my career success book Success Tweets says, “The mightier your purpose, the more likely you are to succeed.”

Dr King’s purpose was mighty; to bring about racial equality in the USA.  I think even he would have been surprised that less than 50 years after his famous speech, the citizens of the USA would elect a black man President.

Your clarity of purpose and direction provides the foundation for your life and career success.  You can build the successful life and career that you want and deserve on that foundation.  The more clear and the more mighty your purpose and direction, the stronger your foundation.

I’m a 60’s guy.  After all these years, my favorite recording artist is still Bob Dylan.  My favorite Dylan song – and maybe my favorite song ever — is “Forever Young.”  I used one of the lines from it to introduce my bestselling book, Straight Talk for Success – “May you build a ladder to the stars and climb on every rung.”  Check out some of the other lyrics…

“May your hands always be busy.
May your feet always be swift.
May you have a strong foundation
When the winds of change shift.”

By now you may be saying, “Get to the point, Bud.”  So I will.  You should begin your success journey by clarifying your purpose in life.  Why are you on this earth?  What are you meant to do?  I believe that the more mighty this purpose, the more you are likely to succeed.  A mighty purpose gives you that strong foundation “when the winds of change shift.”

Brad Swift of the Life On Purpose Institute ( makes a great point about clarity of purpose…

“Taking a bold stand for living on purpose starts by knowing your purpose with crystal clarity — knowing it so well that if someone woke you up at 3:00 in the morning and asked you what your life purpose is, you’d be able to tell them.  And if someone who knew you well heard what you said, they’d realize that your life was a true, authentic reflection of that purpose.”

There are two common sense points on which I want to focus here.  First, your clarity of purpose should be so big, so mighty, so important to you, that it is deeply ingrained in your psyche.  It has to be part of who you are.  Second, you have to live your clarity of purpose 24/7/365.  This takes commitment; commitment to determining your life’s purpose, and commitment to living it.

If you were to wake me at 3:00 in the morning, shine a light in my face and ask me for my life’s purpose, I’m sure I would say, “Helping people create successful lives and careers.”  It’s that much a part of me.  My elevator speech begins, “Hi, I’m Bud Bilanich, the Common Sense Guy; I help people create successful lives and careers by applying their common sense.”

For me, this is a mighty purpose.  I’m helping other people find career success — and fulfillment in their lives.  That’s important work in my book.  I take immense satisfaction out of seeing others learn, grow and succeed.  In another life I might have been a teacher or athletic coach.  In this life, I help people create the life and career success that they want and deserve.

There is an old saying that goes something like, “The problem is not in setting your goal too high and not reaching it.  The problem is setting your goal too low and achieving it.”  I can’t remember the exact quote or the attribution.  I’ll send a signed copy of Success Tweets to the first person who leaves a comment telling us the exact quote and the attribution.  Please respond by leaving a comment, not by sending me an email.  I want the answer to be visible to everyone who reads this blog.

What is your purpose?  Is it mighty?  I hope so.

The career success coach point simple common sense.  Just like Martin Luther King, whose legacy we celebrate today, successful people think big.  They ground themselves in a mighty purpose.  Tweet 4 in Success Tweets says, “The mightier your purpose, the more likely you are to succeed.  It will give you a strong foundation when the winds of change shift.”  Be like Dr. King.  Take this advice to heart.  Ground yourself with a mighty purpose.  It’s better to aim too high and fall a little short than it is to aim too low and reach your goal.  Dare to have a dream – and make it a big, powerful dream.  What is your dream for your life and career success?  Please share it with us in a comment.

That’s my career advice on this Martin Luther King Day.  What do you think?  Please take a minute to share your thoughts with us in a comment.  As always, thanks for reading my daily musings on life and career success.  I have a dream today – that everybody who reads this post will create the life and career success they want and deserve.  I have a dream!


PS: If you haven’t already done so, please download a free copy of my popular career advice book Success Tweets and its companion piece Success Tweets Explained.  The first gives you 140 bits of career success advice tweet style — in 140 characters or less.  The second is a whopping 390 + pages of career advice explaining each of the common sense tweets in Success Tweets in detail.  Go to to claim your free copy.  You’ll also start receiving my daily life and career success quotes.

PPS: I opened a membership site last September.  It’s called My Corporate Climb and is devoted to helping people create career success inside large corporations.  You can find out about the membership site by going to http://www.mycorporateclimb.


Print Friendly, PDF & Email


  1. I found this a really good post. I enjoyed reading Martin Luther King’s words. Usually the clips they show on TV are so short that you don’t get the full impact, as you do here, reading these words.

  2. Thanks for your comment Lynne. I posted only the last half of the speech, but you’re right. The words are powerful.

Speak Your Mind


This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.