Tag Archives: inspiration

IF: Keeping Your Head

In 2008, the United States of America elected its forty-fourth president, President Barack Obama, in the midst of one of the worst economic situations we have seen since The Great Depression.  From the moment he took office he has been blamed for the employment rates, national debt and all overall economy issues.  No one can argue that it is his responsibility to make things better and lead the country in the right direction.  However, can someone truly be blamed for a problem they inherited? I could take time here and share my political opinion but that is for another book. Here I wanted to high light the president’s response.  When the entire country is frustrated by jobs, wages and a host of unaddressed issues and everyone is looking at him demanding answers and criticizing him for the slow recovery, President Obama remained calm and collected.  He stays true his agenda and does not allow the blame from others to shake his focus.  Regardless of how you feel about his policies, this is a point of interest for anyone seeking to accomplish their goals and realize their dreams.
In the book, Developing the Leader Within You, author John C. Maxwell (2005) explains that “The Greek word for self-control comes from a root word meaning “to grip” or “take hold of.”  This word describes people who are willing to get a grip on their lives and take control of areas that will bring them success or failure” Maxwell (2005, p.161). Kipling opens his poem with the very first conditional supposition, “if you can keep you head…”  This implies to me how important the idea of self-discipline is in the attainment of ones goals.  Before you can do anything in preparation for the life you want to live, you must conquer self-discipline.  Maxwell quotes a gentleman by the name of Edwin Markham who had this to say on the subject:
We are blind until we see that in the human plan nothing is worth the making if it does not make the man.  Why build these cities glorious if man unbuilded goes? [sic] In vain we build the world unless the builder also grows (p. 162).
This statement is no different than the law of self-preservation.  Self-discipline is about dealing with what is going on inside of you.  It does no good to even accomplish your goal if you are not able to learn and grow alone the way.  While building your dreams you should be building yourself.  “When we are foolish, we want to conquer the world.  When we are wise, we want to conquer ourselves” (p. 163).  Those who are able to keep their heads in the midst of ciaos are those that understand that they learning even when they are the teacher.

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Tools To Build A Better You

IFRudyard 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.

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