IF (Rudyard Kipling)

Today, as we hit the midpoint in the week, I have yet another of my favourite poems to share. My hope is that it will encourage you to keep working hard at your goals and personal development, and finish the week strongly.
In the anticipation of motivating and inspiring you, I have chosen If by Rudyard Kipling. Widely quoted, it was written in 1909 and the tone is very upbeat and positive. Despite using words such as man and son, this is a poem for everybody. To me, the poem is a reminder of the amount of potential we all have within us to succeed in life.
Kipling advises the reader that they will face adversity in life, but then proceeds to offer ways in which these challenges can be overcome. Furthermore, he tells the reader that it is not only possible to overcome adversity but that they could go further, thrive and achieve success. Again, Kipling offers his advice as to how this can be done, and implies that the choice is theirs as to whether they make it happen or not.
What I love most about this poem, though, is the use of “if”. In reading these 2 innocent letters, we become aware that the life which they lead is our choice. It’s up to each of us if we succeed in life or not. The potential is within us, but the ultimate outcome depends on what we do with that potential.
If you can keep your head when all about you   
    Are losing theirs and blaming it on you,   
If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you,
    But make allowance for their doubting too;   
If you can wait and not be tired by waiting,
    Or being lied about, don’t deal in lies,
Or being hated, don’t give way to hating,
    And yet don’t look too good, nor talk too wise:
If you can dream—and not make dreams your master;   
    If you can think—and not make thoughts your aim;   
If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
    And treat those two impostors just the same;   
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
    Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
    And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools:
If you can make one heap of all your winnings
    And risk it on one turn of pitch-and-toss,
And lose, and start again at your beginnings
    And never breathe a word about your loss;
If you can force your heart and nerve and sinew
    To serve your turn long after they are gone,   
And so hold on when there is nothing in you
    Except the Will which says to them: ‘Hold on!’
If you can talk with crowds and keep your virtue,   
    Or walk with Kings—nor lose the common touch,
If neither foes nor loving friends can hurt you,
    If all men count with you, but none too much;
If you can fill the unforgiving minute
    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   
Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it,   
    And—which is more—you’ll be a Man, my son!

6 thoughts on “IF (Rudyard Kipling)

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