Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936) is the author of the inspirational poem ‘If’. It first appeared in his poetic collection ‘Rewards and Fairies’ in 1909. The poem is both inspirational and motivational in it interpretations. In the poem, Kipling offers a blueprint for living a mature life. He presents a group of suppositions that leads to a boy becoming a man. He paints a picture of a father giving advice to his son. I pictured a boy coming to his father with a problem; the father picking the boy up and placing him on his lap. When opening his mouth to give his son some advice, the father begins, “If you can keep your head when all about you are losing theirs and blaming it on you.” He offers these suppositions as nuggets of character building strategies that can aide even seasoned adults in building a better life for themselves.
What if you had the power to be a better you? Would you work at? I suggest to you as Kipling suggested to his readers that maturity is in one’s perspective. Each line of the poem describes to the reader a behavior that is clearly not seen as “normal”. It suggests that if you can adjust your character to fit inside of these abnormal behaviors than you will obtain a prize. He does seem to suggest that the doer will receive fortune or fame when he says, “yours is the earth and everything that’s in it.” Kipling understood that people were in search of something greater. He knew that some people pushed themselves in order to obtain material possessions. He suggests to his readers that these things will come. They are a part of success. He shows us that success includes material manifestations but is not contingent upon them. There is something so much greater that we should all be fighting for. There is something greater that we should all be working for. That something is maturity. Kipling says that if you do these things that most people are clearly not doing then you will obtain material things and “which is more, you’ll be an man.” The phrase “which is more” suggests that although the aforementioned was good, the next statement is more powerful. Kipling suggests that if his suppositions are followed than his readers will obtain maturity.
The poem ends in with the phrase “You’ll be a man, my son!” This phrase embodies the development of a person from “boy” to “man”. During the time of this writing, it was common for literature to written from the masculine perspective. Embrasing the practicality of this poem would require us not to focus on the gender of this statement but the intended meaning. The development of a boy into a man embodies many things, which can be summed up with the word maturity. Maturity is defined as the state of being mature. It refers to one’s full development or perfected condition. Knowing that perfection is not accomplished in any mortal being leads me to define maturity as being the very best you that you can be at that moment. It is a three-dimensional look at one’s self. It is a snapshot of where you are during the assessment of where you are headed. It is the ability to self-assess, prioritize or reprioritize one’s goals and aspirations.
Ancient and operative masons used stones to build magically crafted buildings. Many of these rough stones were jagged and misshapen and could not be used for building in their present state. Masons would use their tools to shape these stones until they were perfect for their use. A more modern and philosophical view of this knowledge calls for our lives to be represented by this rough stone. From it we are reminded of our rude and imperfect state in the beginning or immature part of our lives. The perfect stone that is ready for use represents that state of perfection at which we hope to arrive by a virtuous education, our own endeavors and the blessing of God. The tool used to convert a rough stone into a perfect stone is represented by each supposition expressed in this poem and explained in this book.
Life is a unique balance of science and art. Many self-help books are written to empower readers to look within for the answers to questions that they are seeking answer to from the outside. Formulas and strategies can be created and explained in many complex as well as simple ways but they are powerless against a person that does not believe that they have the power to change. The art in life is indicative of the creative way in which people develops themselves and achieve their goals. These are the details that cannot be found in the pages of books. These are the details that can only be written by each individual. Thomas Jefferson once stated that, “Nothing can stop the man with the right mental attitude from achieving his goal; nothing on earth can help the man with the wrong mental attitude.” It is this point that will populate the pages of this book. You do have the ability to change your life. You do have the ability to build a better you. You do have the ability to achieve your goals. If you can change the way you look at your past, present and future situations then you will have arrived at success. Once you take the time to simply build a better you, you will begin to notice that things you have always wanted to do are starting to happen. Once you take the time to build a better you, you will have obtained a maturity that will yield you worldly possessions that are no longer the focal point of your efforts. So the question remains, why “If”?
I struggled with the decision to subtitle this book. If this book were viewed as a “how-to” book then I would have titled it How to Build a Better You. If this book were viewed as a “self-help” book then I would have titled it What to do IF you Desire Greatness. I settled on the title IF because of the word’s implications towards uncertain possibility. I began my journey a long time ago. Where I thought I was going is not exactly where I ended up. Your journey will take you places that you never thought you were going to go if you allow it. Likewise, this book will teach you to reshape your perspective if you allow it. The possibilities are uncertain but they are also endless. You can do anything you want to do. You can be anyone you want to be. The key is to be the best you that you can be. Maturing and doing things different is not easy but IF you are willing to make an effort, IF you are willing to put in the work, “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!”
IF: Tools to Build a Better You – Coming Soon