What is the poem "If" about?

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Probably the most famous poem by the British author Rudyard Kipling (1865-1936), "If" was first published in 1910. It is an inspirational poem that dispenses lessons to its young readers about the qualities of leadership and adulthood. "If" runs the gamut of instructional suggestions about behavior in various situations. Self-confidence, honesty and facing criticism about making unpopular decisions are three actions discussed in the first stanza. The second stanza focuses on private thoughts and the repercussions of making them public. The third stanzas discusses ideals about profit and loss and the chances a man must take. The final stanza stresses not to lose "the common touch" with the ordinary man. Kipling ends his poem by declaring that if a person can work toward these ideals, he will then become a man.

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