Dolly Parton’s Approach to Work Changed Over the Years

Dolly Parton is known for how hard she works. She writes songs, sings, hosts awards shows, collaborates with brands, oversees her Imagination Library, and more. Here’s how her approach to work has changed over the years.

Dolly Parton on the inspiration behind ‘Woman Up and Take It Like a Man’

Dolly Parton wears gold and white while playing the guitar.
Dolly Parton | Andrew Lipovsky/NBCU Photo Bank/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

During an interview with TED speaker Adam Grant on Clubhouse, Parton discussed her career journey. She explained the inspiration behind her song “Woman Up and Take It Like a Man.”

“I just really love being a woman and I think everybody should be able to be proud of who they are and use their own strengths and talents and be recognized for that,” says Parton. “In the book [Run, Rose, Run], the [characters] both write songs, they’re both independent, they both have a mind of their own, as I do and as I always have.”

Parton says that in the book the two female characters were “griping” about some things that were happening in their relationships. She says she got the idea for her song “Woman Up and Take It Like a Man” because she thought, “don’t gripe about it, do something about it.” She says whenever you have a problem, it’s best to do something to solve the problem than to complain about it.

Parton started writing the song, and she wanted to convey the message that sometimes you have to “woman up.” She says this song was like “a new 9 to 5” or a new “woman’s anthem.” This was her updated version. “So, it’s just in praise of women, and I thought it was a clever title,” adds Parton.

Dolly Parton’s approach to work

Grant asked Parton about her work and how her approach has changed over the years. He wanted to know what a “cup of ambition” means for her today. Parton says today she has to work harder. She has accomplished so much that she must do more to make sure she remains at the top of her game.

“With my cup of ambition, I have to get up earlier, I have to work longer, and I have to have a bigger cup of ambition in the morning to get it all done,” jokes Parton. “Somebody like me, I always wanted to be a star and I always wanted my dreams to come true, and they did. And there’s always a dream within a dream, within a dream, because as I often say as a joke but it’s true that I often dream myself into a corner. Meaning, my dreams have come true, so I have to keep them alive.”

Parton says every day a new opportunity comes up and she can’t deny it. She tells Grant that she believes in being fully engaged with whatever project she’s working on so that it can be done correctly. She doesn’t like leaving things in the hands of others.

“I have to get in there and be with it,” says Parton. “As long as I’m living, I can’t leave that in the hands of other people. I have to be on top of all of it to make sure that it’s being done right the way that I want it done.”

Dolly Parton enjoys working

Grant also asks Parton how she avoids burnout. Parton jokes, “Well, I don’t have time to burn out, I’m burning up!” Parton goes on to say that she does get tired sometimes. “Sometimes I get tired, sometimes I say, ‘Lordy, I’ve got to slow down a little bit or I am going to burn up.”

Parton says she is a creative person, and she creates something new all the time. She stays with that creative process because she enjoys making things happen. However, she says she cooks, reads, and focuses on spiritual nourishment when she’s feeling the impact of burnout. “I always say when things are bad, I pray; when they get worse, I pray harder,” says Parton. “And that’s pretty much the truth.”

RELATED: Dolly Parton Says Having Children Would Have Prevented Her from Having the Life She Has Today

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