What is the message conveyed by the poem "If," by Rudyard Kipling?

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bullgatortail | High School Teacher | (Level 1) Distinguished Educator

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Rudyard Kipling's most famous poem, "If," provides the reader with a series of examples about how a person can better oneself and, eventually, achieve manhood. It is written in an instructional tone of an older man offering his personal wisdom to a younger boy. The first stanza warns the reader about the pitfalls of becoming overly self-confident or self-righteous and the difficulty of accepting criticism and opposing ideas. The second stanza deals with public opinion and the maintenance of views that should remain private. The third stanza illustrates the fleeting fortunes of profit and loss. The final stanza reminds the reader not to "lose the common touch" with fellow man. If a person can follows these suggestions, he can become a true leader of men.