I was chatting with a friend the other day, and for some reason Rudyard Kipling’s poem “If” came to mind. My friend had never heard it — I find many people haven’t heard of it — and yet it is one of my favorites. So, I wish to share it with you in its entirety:
~ 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 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.
To me, this poem is a perfect example of “honorable.” Being honorable is something that can only be achieved over time, where you are able to demonstrate integrity and “doing the right thing” even when others don’t agree with you. There is a sense of a “higher purpose” — a quality that transcends current circumstance.
This week’s Challenge: This week, I will seek to be Honorable by steadfastly holding to a higher purpose.
Avoiding being Condescending (overuse): Having convictions of your own are good, until you start to use those convictions to measure others. Then the very positive trait of being honorable morphs into being condescending. I think avoiding this is best illustrated by the line from the poem If: “If you can trust yourself when all men doubt you, but make allowance for their doubting too.” Trust in those convictions, but don’t look down on others when they don’t share those convictions. As Earl Nightingale said, “When you judge others, you do not define them, you define yourself.”
Commendable Trait: Honorable
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