Rudyard Kipling's poem "If" gives encouraging advice on how to succeed, even when faced with challenges and obstacles.
The first stanza of the poem focuses on establishing redeeming character traits, such as patience, honesty, and courage, and confidence. Rudyard gives examples on how to build these traits, like "if you can can keep your head" or "if you can trust yourself."
The second stanza suggests developing a committed work ethic and striving toward goals for the greater good. The second stanza also defers to obstacles that might jeopardize those goals. Rudyard applauds having dreams, but suggests not to let those dreams become your master. He encourages the reader to stay focused.
The third stanza addresses obstacles further and how what to do in the face of disaster or loss. The key character trait in this stanza is perseverance. Rudyard advises to the reader to start at the beginning and to keep going, also suggesting that it is best to keep personal disappointments to yourself.
The final stanza recommends that being true to yourself. No matter the situation, and Rudyard gives several examples like kings or crowds, the best policy is to be someone who can adapt to circumstance well, but is able to do so while maintaining his own sense of self and personal intergrity. Rudyard concludes the poem by saying that if the reader can successfully accomplish these suggestions and develop these good character traits, then the world will be his. He will be able to call himself a man.