Rudyard Kipling’s “If–” – Inspiration for Your Son

If by Rudyard Kipling - Inspiration for Your Son

A couple of years ago my wife gave me a new briefcase for my birthday.  It’s a great briefcase; I think I like it because it looks worn and rugged.  She told me it was called “the Kipling bag.”  As I was unpacking it and admiring the cool details I noticed tucked in one of the pockets was a poem by Rudyard Kipling, originally published in 1910.


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 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

Here’s Your Challenge

I keep this poem close and read it often.  Imagine if we all reminded ourselves of these basic truths.

My challenge to you:

Take the time to bless a young man at least once a day. 

Tell him when he’s done something good or simply that he’s loved and you’re glad he’s your son.

Robert Bly, author of “Iron John” and “The Sibling Society” said it like this “We do our young men a disservice by not blessing them.  So each of us young or old needs to bless a younger man each day.” 

The way I interpret this, by looking for the miraculous every day, we have the opportunity to pass on wisdom from generation to generation.

Be a mentor to a young man who doesn’t have a role model in his life.  Or, for that matter, a boy can never have too many so BE A MENTOR.  Together we can make a difference.

Do you like this poem by Rudyard Kipling as much as I do?  Share your comments with me.

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  1. lumpastcons on February 28, 2016 at 1:58 am

    He is author of the forthcoming book, “Saving Our Sons” A Parents Guide to Preparing Boys for Success. Where is this information?

    • Clayton Lessor on February 28, 2016 at 7:05 am

      My book is soon to be released, it should be in print by end of March! If you’d like to get the 1st Chapter free please go to my website and click on the “book” tab.

  2. JEFF NOVA on February 9, 2018 at 6:18 am

    If… it is tremendously inspirational. KIPLING the man and Kipling my high school molded young minds to do good…to do right. Our school board is trying to take away the school and the legacy. Hopefully IF will help us through this injustice! Thanks, Jeff

    • Clayton Lessor on February 9, 2018 at 9:07 am

      Good luck to you. And yes, this is one of my favorite inspirational poems. It says it all!

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