Around this time of year I always like to send a New Year message to friends, family, clients, and colleagues to start out the year on a good foot. As we close the chapter on 2016 and look forward to what 2017 has in store for us, I am reminded of one of my favorite poems by Rudyard Kipling, “If-“. I believe its message will resonate with many of you as it has resonated with me whenever I go back to it.
The poem is a lesson from a man to his son about the characteristics, virtues, and responsibilities he must take on to become successful in life. First and foremost, the poem is about maintaining your sense and strength of self during both good times and bad, by being humble, patient, rational, truthful, dependable, and by preserving in the face of adversity. The virtues described are not flashy or dramatic; there are no heroic deeds or great amounts of wealth or fame described in the poem.
Rather, the message is overwhelmingly one of endurance and perseverance in the face of losses and setbacks.
Rather, the message is overwhelmingly one of endurance and perseverance in the face of losses and setbacks. It is a reminder to have faith in yourself that you can rise to meet whatever challenges you may face, and by meeting each challenge with the same graciousness, no matter how big or small it may be. Moreover, it speaks to the importance of picking ourselves up when we’ve been knocked down – it is precisely the response to adversity that indicates who we really are.
So, with that being said, I hope you enjoy the poem and I hope you find some inspiration in it for the coming year.
Have a safe and happy New Year filled with family and loved ones.
“If-” by Rudyard Kipling
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 beginning
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!