If–

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

Even though Rudyard Kipling wrote this poem in 1909, its relevance in today’s world is unmistakeable. Reading it makes me think of the person who I admire as one of the ultimate entrepreneurs of our time, Steve Jobs, who, remember, was fired from his own company only to go off and make other great things (Pixar) and come back to resurrect the company that fired him (Apple).

Even though Steve Job’s style may not have made this obvious, he did lead while listening. He was fired from Apple because he was willing to bet it all (going to the Board over a disagreement with Sculley) and when he lost,  he started again. I would say that it was without resentment because he could not have achieved what he did if he was busy resenting Apple. You can’t feel two things at the same time.  Likewise he didn’t let success, or failure, go to his head. and he did what was right, even when it wasn’t easy. I loved his response to the “problems” with the IPhone 4. If you don’t like it, don’t buy it.

“But Steve Jobs was a genius” my students have said. Yes, he was special, but there’s room for more like him. Learn by example. This could be you.

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