The 6 Smartest Pieces of Advice

Author, political commentator, and veteran campaign strategist Donna Brazile offers her rules to live by.



1. Be the buffalo.

Wilma Mankiller, the first female principal chief of the Cherokee nation, once told me how the cow runs away from the storm while the buffalo charges directly toward it-and gets through it quicker. Whenever I'm confronted with a tough challenge, I do not prolong the torment. I become the buffalo.

2. Organize the small to make room for the big.
I am addicted to gadgets. Trouble is, I keep forgetting where I put them. A friend once said, "Our lives are spent in moments-how many of them do you want to waste looking for your cell phone or BlackBerry?" Finding a place for everything frees up time to pursue what you really want.

3. Go help someone.
My mother wasn't a very patient woman. If I complained about being lonely or bored, she'd tell me to go help someone, anyone. To this day, when I start feeling sorry for myself, I look for a good deed to do. But I keep in mind one thing....

Related: 35 little acts of kindness that will brighten someone's day

4. Ask the turtle.
I'm proud to call Gloria Steinem a friend, and this advice came from her. While on a field trip in college with her geology class, she discovered a giant snapping turtle that had climbed out of the river, up a dirt path, right to the edge of a road. Worried it would soon be run over, she wrestled the enormous reptile off the embankment and back down to the water. At that moment, her professor walked up and asked what in the world she was doing. With some pride, she told him. He said that the turtle had probably spent a month crawling up that long dirt path to safely lay its eggs in the mud on the side of the road and that she had destroyed all that effort with her "rescue." Gloria tells this story to illustrate the most important political lesson she ever learned: Always ask the turtle.

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5. Wear comfortable shoes.
Men don't wear high heels, and they don't make allowances for women who do. Tottering down the corridors of power in beautiful but crippling stilettos telegraphs your preference for style over substance.

6. Take care of your body.
This has always been a difficult one for me. I sleep too little, go too fast, and indulge too often in minor vices. But as my Grandma Frances said, "You can only go as far and as long as your body will take you." That's why I slow down to enjoy an occasional glass (or two) of finely aged single-malt scotch. I don't think it's what Grandma Frances meant, but taking that moment is what allows me to keep going too far and too fast the rest of the time.-Donna Brazile

Related: 6 things Donna Brazile can live without (and you can too)

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