On Maturing

It was way back in my school days at St Mary’s, that I first encountered the poem IF by Rudyard Kipling .The Principal Rev Father Whyte had selected this poem for a group of us to recite at an inter school event in Chennai ,and had rehearsed us to recite it with expression and feeling .It is a great poem very reflective of the values and gentlemanly behaviour Father Whyte always wanted to inculcate in his wards .It is also reflective of the general behavioural pattern that characterised St Mary’s students of that era .Sadly during a visit to St Mary’s several years ago I was disappointed by the decline in the standard of the school  I sensed , rightly or wrongly .The place somehow seemed to have fallen off very much from the heydays when we were students there.
Father Whyte was a towering figure , on whose birthday, the school’s annual boxing championship was held!! It was a sport he seemed to like a lot and often said it was a great character builder !! I do believe that my formative years were influenced very greatly by Father Whyte .It’s unfortunate that in later years I heard he had taken to excessive drinking when he migrated back to his home country , Ireland . I heard he had passed away a decade or so ago .I do hope his last days were peaceful and that he lived in favourable circumstances .
Here’s the poem :


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!


Terrific poem isnt it !! It’s a poem that never fails to give added hope and reasurance when ever I needed it .It was composed about a hundred odd years ago ,yet retains so much relevance in todays fast paced world. Here’s my take on some of the lines that meant a lot to me and their connect to the Corporate World.

Folks losing their heads all around us blaming it on us happens all the time , doesn’t it ? The  strong minded of us keep a cool head  and give our teams badly needed support  and do what ever we can to cool heads down .Tongue in cheek , wasn’t that ?? !!! Seasoned managers do just this ; others go into a tizzy which doesn’t help the situation .

To be doubted and questioned seems a perinnial perrogative  of Managers … no matter how high in the hierarcy you get .To have the inner strength to understand " and make allowance for their doubting " is divine  and sets apart the winners from the whiners .

To be able to keep going in the face of myriad difficulties  and hurdles is the hall mark of unquestioning  devotion to duty .Such steadfastness is something we see all around us among our unsung heros .Something I always cherish is to be with far flung team members who often are the strongest pillars and un know ambassadors of the company .May their tribe increase !!

Perhaps the best known lines from the poem are the advise to meet with triumph and disaster and treat these two imposters just the same .Very tough advise as we tend to get elated when things go well and more than crest fallen when things go against us .To keep a level head and understand the circumstances that lead to either triumph or disaster and press on with the new challenges and tasks ahead with the will to keep winning is the receipe I would suggest . 


Author: hari008

Business Leader , Mentor and Executive Coach with a long track record of achievement , developing high performance teams and mentoring team members who now hold responsible positions in several leading companies

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