If —by Rudyard Kipling

November 27, 2011

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!

Words to live by.

Two lines from this poem (If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster / And treat those two impostors just the same) are featured on the player’s entrance to Centre Court in Wimbledon. Here’s a video featuring none other than Roger Federer and Rafael Nadal reading a few lines prior to their classic Wimbledon 2008 final.

Sport can be cruel sometimes. We’ve all seen athletes hurt, cry, vomit, pass out and even bleed on their way to victory. When your legs give up, your spirit is the only thing that keeps you going, pushing your body through that extra mile. Being an athlete requires you to be able to handle defeat frequently, often brutally. It requires you to never give up, to believe in yourself. To lift yourself up after a tough loss, dust yourself off and start working hard again. If you’re lucky, you may have a chance to fight another day.

If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster… It’s difficult to find two other lines with so much meaning.

This was the 200th post on Analog Senses. I thought it was appropriate to dedicate it to something that’s important to me. I don’t know what it will mean to you. It may serve as a reminder. Or maybe as a motivation. Or perhaps, if I’m lucky, it may stir something inside you that you didn’t know was there.

We’re all athletes in our lives in one way or another. And we all need to work hard, stay strong, and learn to accept that, though on any given day we may lose, what we should never accept is defeat.