IF you gave it your all…
Last week’s Rugby World Cup Quarter Finals, when both Wales and Scotland lost heroically with Lady Luck having deserted both it seemed, brought to my mind a favourite poem from schooldays – “IF” by Rudyard Kipling.
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!
My sense is that Kipling was suggesting that what matters is the effort, not the attainment, it’s about the approach not the outcome, about giving your all and not the result. I know that some will disagree with me and cite things such as “no one remembers who came second” and whilst that might be true, for those that took part, they will always remember the time they gave their all regardless of winning or not.
Too many businesses focus exclusively on the results whereas in the long term I believe it’s about the way you go about doing what you do that matters most. Of course there has to be winning days, you can’t survive on valour alone. My belief is that by making the right behaviours your main priority, the results will come and they will be the right results, those earned through appropriate effort. These always feel so much better than a hollow victory or one achieved by questionable practice.
Rather than asking “did you win?” when your team members return from a pitch, instead perhaps, “did you give it your all?” might be a better question.
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