When I was in college I had picked up a book titled, The Unforgiving Minute: A Soldier’s Education by Craig M. Mullaney. I was intrigued by the novel, as it was an autobiographical account of one man’s life through high-school, West Point Military Academy, war as an Army Ranger – and ultimately a Rhodes Scholar. This book really provided me an particular insight on what life may have been if I would have continued my pursue into the Military Academy, as I was in the application and interview process for West Point Military Academy when I was accepted to Sonoma State University. One of the most powerful new things I was able to take away from this book, was a poem by Rudyard Kipling.  “If”, has been emblazoned on my binder covers at college, has been shared by me to many of my friends, and is currently hanging on my wall – written out on a poster-board. It has become one of the most influential pieces of poetry in my life, so far.

 

If

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!

Rudyard Kipling