Rudyard Kipling’s “IF” Holds Wisdom for Men Everywhere

A simple poem, written more than 100 years ago holds resounding truths for today’s men.

Please indulge me with one more Movember-related piece. It’s not a pitch to join the team. I promise it will be worth your time.

A few weeks back while in Chicago for the launch of Movember, I first viewed the movement’s center-piece video for this year’s campaign. As I watch and re-watch it, I find so many simple lessons for living and for living with prostate cancer–or any cancer–that I find it replaying in the back of my head when I least expect it. I was not familiar with “If” until now, but it says so much about taking a stand. It speaks volumes about today’s new man who is emerging and willing to speak about men’s health issues for the benefit of others as well as his own. It extols sharing knowledge through generations and underscores why we need to protect our fathers, grandfathers and sons. I said it last week… Movember has given us a voice that is uniquely our own. “If” also gives Movember an eloquent and defining voice. As I learned in life, if we are given a voice–however shaky or strong–it is our responsibility to use it.

I asked Adam Garone, Movember co-founder, to share his team’s thoughts about using Kipling’s “If” to speak to millions of men around the globe. I am pleased to share his response:

Movember has become more than a men’s health movement, or about the renaissance of the moustache during November, it has become a movement to bring back chivalry and redefine what it means to be a gentleman.  Over the past two years, Movember has paid homage to the Modern Gentleman and Country Gentleman, exploring his appreciation and penchant for luxury items, etiquette, craftsmanship, pride and honor. In 2012, Movember is getting down to the rawhard truths of the past two years and taking a look, quite simply, at what it means to be a better man. 2012 is the year of Movember & Sons.

Knowledge shared from one generation to the next and wisdom passed down by one’s dad or father figure, plays a meaningful role in shaping who we become. This learning continues throughout life, but also reaches a point at which the exchange is reversed and insight is passed back up the chain.  The collective knowledge of generations gives us great power to avoid mistakes of the past, plan thoughtfully for the future and to become the best version of one’s self.

A big part of the inspiration for Movember & Sons was Rudyard Kipling’s inspirational poem ‘If’ which first appeared in 1909. The poem provides a framework for the modern gentleman. It contains mottos and maxims for life, making it a blueprint for personal integrity, behavior and self-development–all virtues of being a modern gentleman.

‘If’ is as relevant today as when it was written by Kipling, as an ethos and a personal philosophy.

I personally have come to believe that Movember reaches beyond raising awareness and funding for men’s health. It’s about taking responsibility for ourselves and those we love.

Take a moment to watch Movember’s recital of Kipling’s “If.”  I believe you will find it extremely powerful.

Wishing you, as always, abundant health.

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2 Responses to “Rudyard Kipling’s “IF” Holds Wisdom for Men Everywhere”

  1. Wow, in this noisy, confused world filled with aimless people who have no idea what they’re about, what a privilege and joy to be associated with a movement that defines itself beyond just men’s health: “Movember has become more than a men’s health movement, or about the renaissance of the moustache during November, it has become a movement to bring back chivalry and redefine what it means to be a gentleman.

    And speaking as a “word guy,” what a terrific phrase: “rawhard truths.” Pretty much says it all.


  2. A wonderful poem. An inspiration to us all, again. But next year, for Movember, I’d suggest we have an actor friend of mine in Germany, Markus Klauk, read this poem for us – and without the guitar to distract! Sorry, but as a musician and voice man, this performance really does grate on the sensibilites. Nice thought. Well meant. But . . .