The Unforgiving Minute – Thoughts on IF by Rudyard Kipling

Lake George

Have you ever read Rudyard Kipling’s IF? If not, please click the link and enjoy.

The poem notes the dichotomies in life and the thin line one must walk to live in balance.

The line I have been thinking about lately comes at the end:

“If you can fill the unforgiving minute

    With sixty seconds’ worth of distance run,   

Yours is the Earth and everything that’s in it…”

When doing something hard, truly difficult, the minute is unforgiving:

  • Sprint or do burpees for 60 seconds straight and your mind will be begging to stop.
  • Start your day with a 60-second cold shower and the same will happen.
  • Standing in line without checking your phone for a minute is surprisingly tricky.
  • Listening patiently to an opinion you don’t agree with for 60 seconds takes self-control.
  • Just sitting in silence for a minute…the list could go on and on.

All these things that are good for us and would help develop a strong body, sound mind, focus, and patience start with the unforgiving minute. That to me is the beauty at the end of this poem. If you can do something difficult for one minute, and truly give it your all, you will be able to do more. Set the bar low, just aim to fill that minute.

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