Business, self-help and career coaching books are all very well when you want direct instruction on how to pave the way to your perfect career and state of mind. But what about when you want to draw your inspiration from an enjoyable piece of literature? Whilst you may not have found so when studying meter and rhyme at school, poetry can be a hugely powerful tool which can resonate with your feelings and empower you to work harder and achieve more. Here are a collection of a few poems — each very different in their mindset and message — which can inspire and motivate you, driving you on to a positive, productive mindset.
Poetry To Inspire And Motivate You At Work
‘If’, Rudyard Kipling
Having often been voted the nation’s favourite poem over the past decades, Kipling’s classic poem of perseverance and reaching maturity has long captured the hopes and desires of the British public. To ‘be a man, my son’ through weathering hardships and maintaining integrity is a desirable goal. The following stanza has particular relevance to your working life:
‘If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters just the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to make a trap for fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ’em up with worn-out tools: ’
Listen to Kipling and pragmatism will become your middle name. Most importantly, deal with your failures, and though these strengthen your resolve for the future ahead.
‘Everyone Sang’, Siegfried Sassoon
Written at the end of the first world war, when many of his friends and those he loved had been taken by the conflict, Sassoon’s famous poem ‘Everyone Sang’ is full of hope for the future. The message that you can move past personal tragedy or conflict into the realm of hope can be an important one to remember as we negotiate life alongside our career, and our dreams alongside our more realistic ambitions.
‘Everyone’s voice was suddenly lifted;
And beauty came like the setting sun:
My heart was shaken with tears; and horror
Drifted away … O, but Everyone
Was a bird; and the song was wordless; the singing will never be done.’
‘Warning Poem’, Jenny Joseph
We all need a dose of light-hearted optimism to lighten the load of everyday struggles. Jenny Joseph’s wonderful poetry illustrates how we ought to let go of self-consciousness and embrace our own originality. ‘Warning Poem’ tells of all the things Joseph intends to do once released of the inhibitions and ‘sobriety’ of youth. It reminds us to take a leaf out of her book, before we are too old to make the most of life.
‘When I am an old woman I shall wear purple With a red hat which doesn’t go, and doesn’t suit me. And I shall spend my pension on brandy and summer gloves And satin sandals, and say we’ve no money for butter. I shall sit down on the pavement when I’m tired And gobble up samples in shops and press alarm bells And run my stick along the public railings And make up for the sobriety of my youth.’
‘The road not take taken’, Robert Frost
Frost’s well-known poem of diverging paths and choice can teach us much; the patience of consideration and weighing up options, the values we hold for our future and, most importantly, that we don’t have to follow the crowd. By taking the road less travelled you may choose a slightly harder and more treacherous path, but it will be all the more rewarding for this and you will look back on your choices with satisfaction.
‘I shall be telling this with a sigh
Somewhere ages and ages hence:
Two roads diverged in a wood, and I —
I took the one less travelled by,
And that has made all the difference.’
‘Punctuality’, Lewis Carroll
The eminent Oxford professor Charles Dodgson, otherwise known as Lewis Carroll, didn’t just write children’s books, but also penned a significant quantity of poetry. This includes the delightful poem ‘Punctuality’. Here he identifies the issue:
‘Man naturally loves delay, And to procrastinate; Business put off from day to day Is always done too late.’
He subsequently provides some pithy advice to solve the conundrum of how not to fall into the trap of stereotypical behaviour:
‘Better to be before you time, Than e’re to be behind; To open the door while strikes the chime, That shows a punctual mind.’
Carol concludes his pedagogical poem with a charming moralising stanza, which you ought to pay attention to if you intend to be successful both in your career and more generally in life: ‘Let punctuality and care Seize every flitting hour, So shalt thou cull a floweret fair, E’en from a fading flower.’