In Rudyard Kipling's poem "If," what are the qualities one should possess to become a perfect man?

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beateach eNotes educator| Certified Educator

Rudyard Kipling wrote the poem “If” to give his son direction on how to become a respectable man.

He advises his son to stay calm in the face of adversity, to be truthful, self-righteous, and proud. When others are attempting to spread untruths and hate, he suggests remaining true to one’s ideals, while not sinking to the lowly actions of others.

In addition, Kipling suggests the need for hard work while maintaining a “dream.” The dream should not impede progress and if all is lost, it is important to continue to move forward. If all is lost, he suggests that the respectable man will find a way to recover and prosper once again without burdening others with his problems.

Finally, he feels it is important be able to interact with all of humanity while demonstrating self-dignity. One should not put on airs when dealing with those of a higher class, nor should a man look down upon others. A true man will fit in with all of humanity, but not be solely identified with one group.

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! 

The qualities needed to be a “perfect” man include: self- worth, compassion for mankind, a strong work ethic, the ability to interact with those from all walks of life while not stooping to the pettiness of others, and to care about others while maintaining self-dignity.