In Hamlet, Polonius gives his son, Laertes, eight pieces of fatherly advice. How do you prioritize them using today's values and standards?
As Laertes is heading off, Polonius gives him the following advice in Act I, scene iii:
1. "Give thy thoughts no tongue,/Nor any unproportioned thought his act." This means don't say what you are thinking (keep your own counsel) and don't act rashly or thoughtlessly. Think before you act.
2. "Be thou familiar but by no means vulgar": Polonius advises being friendly but not offering people too much information or getting too personal.
7. "Never a borrower nor a lender be": In other words, don't borrow money and don't lend money.
8. "This above all: to thine own self be true": This means you should act with integrity and live by what you truly believe in.
In today's world, as in Polonius's world, there are ideals and then, sometimes opposed to the ideals, the practical ways you are supposed to function to get ahead in a career. Polonius is giving practical career advice, so if we stick to that, our world also puts a very high value on appearances. Therefore, I would put number six first: wear the best clothes you can without being flashy. In the age of complete transparency via Facebook and other media, a great value is put on discretion in our society, so I would put number one next: think before you speak, tweet, or post. In that same vein, I would put two and five next. They too deal with setting up boundaries: you can be friendly, but everybody doesn't have to know all of your business all the time, and it is better to listen than to yap, yap, yap. Holding very tightly to what good, trustworthy friends you can find would go next: then and now it is hard to find true friends and everyone needs people they can trust and confide in. Number eight, "to thine own self be true," I put sixth--some might put it first, as we are often advised to follow our hearts, and that is good advice, but in the real world, we are also asked to compromise to get ahead: it is best, however, not to compromise on one's core values, but on the things that aren't that important. Seventh would be not to make enemies but to make sure your enemies are frightened of you: it is still best to make sure people think twice before they try to bully you. Finally, it is true that in an ideal world you don't want to borrow or lend, as borrowing gives someone else power over you and lending can leave you short of money you need. This is good advice—but we tend to prioritize the other values Polonius espouses.