In a room full of wide eyed students at Barratt High School on October 26, 1967, Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. delivered a powerful speech, “What is your life’s Blueprint?” filled with timeless life advice that anyone, at any age, at any time can learn from. In honor of his life and legacy today, we want to share with you the three guiding principles in King’s speech that he believes are essential for you to reach your fullest potential. Don’t worry you don’t need to map out your whole life today or define your life’s purpose, King is simply giving you the encouragement and tools you need to create a strong foundation so you can withstand anything life throws at you and succeed.


“A building is not well erected without a good sound and solid blueprint.”

This blueprint or foundation King refers to is within all of us. We have the power to build ourselves up and tear ourselves apart. Our sense of self needs to be so strong that it can withstand our darkest times. You build that foundation by knowing your worth, being determined and doing everything with love and justice in mind. 


Principle #1: Deep belief in your dignity

“Number one in your life’s blueprint, should be a deep belief in your own dignity, your own worth and your own somebodiness. Don’t allow anybody to make you feel that you are nobody. Always feel that you count. Always feel that you have worth, and always feel that your life has ultimate significance.”  – It is essential that you know your worth as a person and that no one defines that but YOU. Don’t let anyone’s opinions alter your perception of self. 


Principle #2: The determination to achieve excellence 

“Secondly, in your life’s blueprint you must have as the basic principle the determination to achieve excellence in your various fields of endeavor… If you can’t be a pine on the top of the hill, Be a scrub in the valley but – be the best little scrub on the side of the hill. Be a bush if you can’t be a tree. If you can’t be a highway, just be a trail. If you can’t be the sun, be a star, For it isn’t by size that you win or you fail. Be the best of whatever you are.” – Whatever you do, do it with determination. Be resilient and relentless in your goals and you can achieve anything. 


Principle #3: Commitment to the eternal principles of Beauty, Love and Justice.

“Finally in your life’s blueprint must be a commitment to the eternal principles of beauty, love and justice. Don’t allow anybody to pull you so low as to make you hate them. Don’t allow anybody to cause you to lose yourself respect to the point where you do not struggle for justice. No matter how young you are, you have a responsibility to seek to make your nation a better place to live. You have a responsibility to make life better for everybody” – Never lose sight of who you are. 


“If you can’t fly, run. If you can’t run, walk. If you can’t walk, crawl, but by all means, keep moving”


For the  full transcript 

Additional advice from King’s speeches