Leadership and Kipling: 7-Kipling Quotes to Consider

This following is a reflection on life lessons learned at the feet of a great writer, Rudyard Kipling. Below is the quote; then the life lesson. While not a post intended to be read alone or all at once, this message is designed for pondering, thinking about how these words impact your current life, how they echo deep in your mind, and relate to others the personal meaning. Consider this a weeklong journey of thinking and pondering, a mental exercise and imaginative journey.

 1.  Words are, of course, the most powerful drug used by mankind. – Kipling

  • I first came across this quote during a difficult period where my choices and reliance upon words and phrases was creating the problems experienced. Long had the lessons of my youth regarding proper English, pronunciation, annunciation, and word choice been giving me problems socially, but I could not understand why. The words we choose become addictive. The experience of using those words to achieve provides a positive feedback loop sustaining word choice, and very carefully the mind closes, the heart congeals, and we begin to attract those just like us. Breaking the cycle requires choosing different words, expressions, and raising our consciousness to the power of expression. Make the choice to choose words more carefully and specifically, and then see where that choice takes you.

2.  We have forty million reasons for failure, but not a single excuse. – Kipling

  • I had a football coach in Altamont, UT who said something very similar. When I discovered this quote several years later, I remembered that coach. More importantly, the lessons of working, striving, achieving, and failure came to mind as well. Failure is to be expected, anticipated, and even appreciated. Not for the excuses, but for the lessons, failure can either be a teacher and builder or ultimate destroyer. The choice to build or destroy remains lodged in the one person who can choose; you. Choose wisely!

3.  For the strength of the Pack is the Wolf, and the strength of the Wolf is the Pack. – Kipling

  • This could be the ultimate team quote, but I refuse to think of this quote that way. This is the ultimate society quote, as society must always remain cognizant of the power of the individual and the collective fit that individual has in society. As my injury and disability has grown year-over-year, the realization of this statement from Kipling drives ever more powerfully home. I have had the pleasure of working with some amazingly talented disabled people, who have been shunted to the side, abandoned, forgotten, but their power to impact lives was not diminished. I firmly belief our society or “wolf pack” is stronger for those struggling with disabilities. Embracing the philosophy that all can contribute empowers, supports, strengthens, and builds the wolf pack.

4.  Fill the unforgiving minute with sixty seconds worth of distance run. – Kipling

  • The best leaders I have ever been privileged to know never inspire people to engage in long tasks, but short bursts of power. Consider the movie “The Patriot” with Mel Gibson. In this movie is a scene where he asks the militia forces under his command not to fight for the whole day or even fire three shots, but simply fire two shots, implying the need to stand and act just long enough. This is the essence of the action discussed by Kipling. Large events hinge upon small acts, small efforts that were made by people filling 60-seconds of life with full effort and purpose. Leaders must remember to only ask enough and no more; enough is most often simply filling 60-seconds of life full to the brim.

5.  Gardens are not made by singing ‘Oh, how beautiful,’ and sitting in the shade. – Kipling

  • Acknowledging the “Power of Work” and the “Law of the Harvest,” which are two powers that change the world one engaged person at a time. Hard work is the investment upon which harvest is born. How often does a person refuse to do the work and then cries about harvesting bitter and useless fields? We see this in a lot of different places, people engaged in sowing hate, envy, strife, and discontent, then complaining that their harvest of bitter crops is too great to bear and wants a new harvest of honey and milk. Leaders must exemplify the need for hard work and the patience required to harvest fields of good crops to their followers. In training, the answer to understanding work comes and delivers its own lessons to be appreciated.

6.  I always prefer to believe the best of everybody, it saves so much trouble. – Kipling

  • Do we understand the power and conviction of this choice? Choosing to believe the best in another requires preparation and a desire to have the best in us be trusted, believed, and seen. Leaders, who personify the quote as internal characteristics, form the backbone of change, the foundation of good society, and reflect the courage needed in difficult times to thrive and build. The time for choosing is today, the need for choosing apparent, and with this single choice, America will never be stronger.

7.  If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten. – Kipling

  • The human condition is a condition of storytellers. Through stories, we teach, learn, and relate. The choice of words we use in telling the stories teaches values, ideals, and heritage in a most influential way, and most importantly our culture is relayed. Historical events are stories, Hollywood tells stories, books tell stories. Through these stories memories are kept, attraction to or detraction from the storyteller occurs, and language is preserved. James Allen reports in “As a Man Thinketh” (1903) about thought and purpose claiming, “Until thought is linked with purpose there is no intelligent accomplishment.” Continuing to further claim, “They who have no central purpose in their life fall an easy prey to petty worries, fears, troubles, and self-pitying’s.” History provides the link between thought and purpose; stories of history are the mold the character of a person is poured into. Hence, both the need to learn history and the requirement to tell history as a story for others to learn requires serious consideration.

Why undertake a weeklong mental exercise, the answer lies in the words of James Allen:

“Mind is the master power that moulds and makes,
And man is mind, and evermore he takes
The tool of thought, and, shaping what he wills,
Brings forth a thousand joys, a thousand ills: –
He thinks in secret, and it comes to pass:
Environment is but his looking glass.”

Contained in these words is understanding, leadership in the current world requires both understanding thought and a commitment to preserving thought in those who follow. Consider and ponder upon these gems of intelligence. The power of these words from Kipling to guide, mentor, and build others cannot be understated. There is great need for leaders in America; leadership continues to be a choice. If we keep this in mind, the world would be a much better place!

© 2016 M. Dave Salisbury
All Rights Reserved


The Technology Control – Revealing the 800lb Gorrilla

Nielson as quoted by Olsen, Pederson, and Hendricks (2009) in an amazing fit of alacrity, makes several points where technology and workers interact. Namely, technology allows for employee control and the disparity between developed societies and developing societies being able to see the same information via the Internet, but remaining disparate. Regarding the former point, the current employee/employer model hinges upon a small few controlling the masses employing tacit and explicit knowledge, combined with technology, and enforced by rigid discipline. More importantly and in connection to the control of employees is the lack of knowledge in developing worlds to advance.

Technology is available, the information to employ that technology, and centuries of knowledge is now at the fingertips of millions across the globe. Yet, the same environment from the early days of the Industrial Revolution remains in every nation and society across the globe; namely, agrarian subsistence living where technological innovation has not spurned an improved society. Lin-Hua and Nielson still quoted from Olsen, Pederson, and Hendricks (2009) brings the keys to the problem and hint at the solution. The key to the problem is not more technology, but training in using that technology. Before training can occur and be effective, two things must transpire value in the technology must both be seen and be personal. Second, governmental controls must reduce to increase individual freedom. Like the employer using technology to control masses of employees, governments employ technology to control citizens, stripping them of dignity, worth, and in many cases actively showing hostility towards their citizens for personal power. Lin-Hua from Olsen, Pederson, and Hendricks (2009) implies organization is also required to bridge the gap between possessing access to knowledge and technology and effectively employing knowledge and technology to improve society. Several times China receives mention in Olsen, Pederson, and Hendricks (2009) as examples of technology, organization, and knowledge. China remains a wonderful example as thief’s of technology and knowledge (Clarke, 2012), totalitarian governmental system (Christian, 2013), absolute control exercised over citizenry through common fear and high technology (Christian, 2013), along with a culture breeding “Middle Kingdom Complex (Kennedy, 2011).” Clearly, the solution is not more government, but less. The solution is not more technology, but experience and time to explore current technology. Knowledge, both tacit and explicit, requires familiarity. Familiarity breeds from both time and exposure, mixed with training and desire.


Christian, R. (2013, November 21). China’s positive reforms and it’s enduring totalitarian tendencies. Millennial. Retrieved from: http://millennialjournal.com/2013/11/21/chinas-positive-reforms-and-its-enduring-totalitarian-tendencies/

Clarke, R. A. (2012, April 2). How china steals our secrets. The New York Times. Retrieved from: http://www.nytimes.com/2012/04/03/opinion/how-china-steals-our-secrets.html

Kennedy, S. (2011). Beyond the Middle Kingdom: Comparative Perspectives on China’s Capitalist Transformation. Redwood City, CA: Stanford University Press.

Olsen, J. K., Pederson, S. A., & Hendricks, V. F. (2009). A Companion to the Philosophy of Technology. West Sussex, UK: Blackwell Publishing.

© 2014 M. Dave Salisbury

All Rights Reserved