How Dolly Parton Became Famous by Never Wanting to ‘Work That Hard’

Dolly Parton is a hardworking musician, actor, and business owner. She’s worn many hats in her career, and she continues to swell her resume. Though it seems that this drive would make her successful in many different jobs, she said that she never wanted to “work that hard.” She explained how never wanting to work hard ended up making her one of the hardest working people in music.

Dolly Parton wears a white bedazzled shirt and holds her hands up in the air.
Dolly Parton | Tabatha Fireman/Redferns via Getty Images

Dolly Parton is notoriously hardworking

Parton is a celebrity who is genuinely self-made. She was born and raised in a small town in the Smoky Mountains and was the fourth of twelve children. The day after she graduated high school, Parton packed a bag and moved to Nashville to pursue a career in music. From there, she turned out one of the most prolific careers in music while also starting Dollywood, her Imagination Library foundation, and a film production company. And these are just a few of the projects she’s worked on.

“I know I’ve just been blessed, and I’ve just been thankful,” she told NPR. “And whatever it is, I’ve never lost my faith, and I never lost momentum. I never got off-track. I never turned loose from my dream. And I’m still onto it tight as I can.”

She said she never wanted a ‘real job’

Despite her determined spirit, Parton says she never actually wanted to work too hard.

“Well, I never wanted to have to work a real job,” she explained. “I never wanted to work that hard.”

She explained that because of this, she leaned into the talent she knew she’d always had. According to Parton, the combination of not wanting a traditional career path and her talent has kept her focused throughout her life.

“I knew that God gave me a talent, and he gave me the kind of personality that I could use my personality, as well as my talent,” she said. “And I just felt like if I, kind of, followed direction, I pray and ask for guidance, and I believe what I pray, and I just kind of wait for, you know, answers or at least a kind of feel of how to do it and what not to do and, you know, who to work with, who not to work with.”

She added that she doesn’t know if there’s another career she would have excelled in.

“I feel like that I’ve been able to make a living at it, and I’d be sinning against my gifts if I didn’t do this,” she said. “I don’t know enough about anything else to say that I could make a go of it. Or maybe I could, but I haven’t had to change my dream. I haven’t been forced to do that.”

Dolly Parton says her success sometimes makes her feel guilty

Though she has worked hard and loves her work, Parton said she sometimes feels guilty about her success. She believes that she isn’t as talented as some of her family and friends, but she’s the one who has made it big.

“It’s true, even within my own family I talk about in the book, too, how I have a guilt complex about being the one that’s so successful when so many of them are so much more talented than me,” she said. “And so many friends that I know in Nashville that have twice the talent that I’ve had, that I’ve seen them come and go through the years and never see their dream come true.”

Despite this, Parton affirmed that she will continue to work on her many projects for as long as she’s able. 

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