Dolly Parton is an epic creator. She has accomplished what many only dream of, and she’s an iconic creator worth looking up to. We can all learn something from her. Here are 5 lessons we can all learn from Dolly.

#1 – The success mindset comes from accepting nothing less. 

When I was growing up in the hills of East Tennessee, I knew my dreams would come true.

~ Dolly Parton ~

To Dolly, not succeeding wasn’t an option. She sweetly said in her Netflix documentary “it didn’t occur to me that not succeeding was an option.”

Unwavering optimism and belief in oneself is a thing. Adopt it. 

#2 – If you want people to remember your message, you have to make people feel.

Make ’em laugh. Make ’em cry. Scare the hell out of them and send ’em home.

~ Dolly Parton ~


That is what Dolly stated she strives to accomplish in her concerts and when entertaining fans. When I heard her say it, I wondered if she knew that formula is the secret sauce to making memorable moments. Entertainment that sticks requires knowing how to evoke emotion. Feelings make memories stick. 

#3 – We all start somewhere; remember your roots.

“Music was in me long before I was in the music industry.”

~ Dolly Parton ~

Dolly was not handed privilege on a silver platter. Dolly grew up in a small town, very poor, and the 4th of 12 kids. Long before she was singing on stages she sang to the chickens, the ducks, and the pigs. The day after high school, she left for Nashville determined. She believes in the business she is in, and she did what was required to be an icon in that industry. 

One of her most famous songs, “Coat of Many Colors,” is her origin story song. Every time I hear her sing it she sounds like she’s still willing to feel it, connect with it, and remember where she came from. She proudly connects to her roots and accepts her story and where it started.

#4 – Chew your tobacco once.

Well, I’m not a tobacco fan, so I don’t chew it at all, but the point is: learn the lesson once. One of the things I loved most while researching Dolly was her saying she likes to learn lessons only once. When life throws you a curveball, pay attention, learn the lesson, let it go, and press on. It’s easy to get caught up in the ‘he-said-she-said’ or the ‘what-if’ game. Does it really help though? If not, take the lesson and press on. Most things in life just aren’t worth giving a damn about. 

#5 – Great art comes from being willing to keep creating (and sometimes failing).

Let your art show your depth. 

~ Dolly Parton ~

She writes her own songs. It’s estimated she has written over 5,000 songs, yet only around 1,000 of those have been recorded. She also said for every song she wrote there were 100 versions she didn’t use. 

We all have multiple versions of projects, ideas, or our art before we even show the world what we saw in our heads. A lesson we can all learn from Dolly is it’s okay to be different. In fact, it’s wonderful to be who you are. She was confident in who she was and what she wanted, and she was going to do what she needed to do to accomplish her goals. It was a very different time in the industry when she started out and she has inspired many to become a part of this.

If this peaks your interest and you’d like to dig deeper here are a few of the pieces I liked about Dolly.

Rolling Stone Article (originally published in 1977)

Here I Am (Netflix documentary)

People of the Year 2021 (People Magazine)

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