Sunday, March 06, 2011

Periodically I run into something from my childhood that is long forgotten and placed on some dusty mental shelf. Something that suddenly brings into sharp focus the things that shaped me as a child and I recently encountered one of these artifacts -- this poem written my Rudyard Kipling. I first read this poem either in the eighth grade or freshman year and have long since forgotten it but in re-reading it as a retrospective on my life I am amazed by its accuracy and how it describes so much of my life.

Everyone is faced with challenges throughout their life and they never get easier, especially if you elect to lead others. Leadership is not for the weak or faint of heart because to stand out you must stand up and in standing up you present a target for those who lack the courage or temperament to lead. This short poem captures what leadership is all about.


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 imposters 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 wornout 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 breath 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!

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