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!

(Source: A Choice of Kipling’s Verse ,1943)

Although Rudyard Kipling’s (1865-1936), infamous poem was written for his son John, it was inspired by a great friend of his, Leander Starr Jameson, the Scots-born colonial politician and adventurer responsible for what has been deemed the Jameson raid that led to the Second Boer War.

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It is considered one of Kipling’s finest and contains ‘a multitude of characteristics deemed essential to the ideal man’, (GradeSaver). Particularly, a man should be humble, truthful, rational, patient, dependable and persevering. He should be aware of twisted men who will try to use him, be able to deal with life’s adversities and  not give in to lies and hatred.

But aren’t all these personal virtues and qualities relevant to women, too,  as well as men? Shouldn’t we all, regardless of age and sex, try to live by these standards? We must practice humility and truthfulness in our everyday life and make it a personal goal to pass those virtues on  to our children too, amongst other things.

Kipling’s poem is more relevant today than even before. It is motivational, inspirational and ‘a blueprint for personal integrity, behaviour and self-development. Lines from Kipling’s ‘If’ appear over the player’s entrance to Wimbledon’s Center Court – a poignant reflection of the poem’s timeless and inspiring quality.’
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Psychologist, world citizen, mother - Effie is one half of the alwaysladies.com founding pair. She can bring to life any party with either a smile, or a strong opinion. If like us you can't get enough of Effie, visit her blog at www.thethinkingmomblog.com

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