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The Motivation Lab: Episode 1, I Am the Captain of My Soul



Quick Hits: British Victorian poet William Ernest Henley (1849-1903) suffered incredible personal tragedy at a young age when he lost the use of his left leg due to complications of tuberculosis of the bone. He then faced even more challenges before he summoned enormous courage and memorialized his mindset in his famous short poem, Invictus. He found ways to motivate himself to conquer those challenges. I hope you enjoy this tribute to the background of the poem. And, if you like, share the material with others to give them a jolt of inspiration! Welcome to the Motivation Lab!


 

One of my favorite poems is William Ernest Henley’s inspirational poem, Invictus. In the interest of brevity, here are two stanzas, the first and last.


Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.


It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.


In the accompanying video I mash up the first and last stanzas as well. The poem spans a short 4 stanzas, 16 lines and 103 powerful words, so you may wonder why I shorten it! You can find the full poem at the end of this post.


The Motivation Lab is the content portion of my site: Sugar High Motivation.

This is a passion of mine. No arduous work involved. I must imagine you will sense that as I share this first post with you. Here are a few things to consider!

· These emails, videos and posts are designed to be quick and inspiring. I want to give you a jolt of inspiration or motivation that carries you forward.

· If you are at work and want to share this with your teams, you can ignite a reflective exercise that engages them in an inspiring and motivating way.

· I’m going to give you a very simple framework and technique to use with your teams (if you are subscribing with the intent to share.) You can use the tabletop exercises to inspire, motivate and build awareness. I’m starting simple with a provocative question.

· Over time, I plan to aggregate and curate (put into an eBook, video, blog post) feedback from members to capture and share. You can use it to explore inspiration from across the community or share with your co-workers.


For example, when have you had to motivate yourself the way Henley did amidst a desperate personal moment or tragedy?


If you want to join the conversation, head over to my Facebook or IG Page: @iamjosephrupp

and join the conversation.


I ask this question because what you may not know is that Henley wrote this poem while he thought he was on the precipice of losing the use of his right leg. He had already lost his left leg from the knee down due to complications from Tuberculosis of the bone, an affliction he suffered from childhood.


It was only because of the brilliant work of visionary surgeon Joseph Lister, that Henley retained the use of his right leg. But the desperate hopefulness expressed in his poem belies the tragedy he faced and willed himself to overcome. He poured himself into his poetry as a way to both cope with his challenges and will himself to triumph over them. It required enormous courage in the face of devastating circumstances. We all face challenges in our lives, whether as severe as these or not -- the poem reminds us of our ability to dig deep. In this case, you can see how the poem itself serves as a mechanism to express fortitude.


Henley wrote a collection of poems, the most famous of which is Invictus, titled In Hospital. As the title suggests, the poems reflect his experience and attitude and served to certainly help him endure the incredible challenges he faced. I hope you enjoy the video and this brief post.


As promised, here is the entire poem:


Invictus

Out of the night that covers me,

Black as the pit from pole to pole,

I thank whatever gods may be

For my unconquerable soul.


In the fell clutch of circumstance

I have not winced nor cried aloud.

Under the bludgeonings of chance

My head is bloody, but unbowed.


Beyond this place of wrath and tears

Looms but the Horror of the shade,

And yet the menace of the years

Finds and shall find me unafraid.


It matters not how strait the gate,

How charged with punishments the scroll,

I am the master of my fate,

I am the captain of my soul.


- William Ernest Henley



In case you are interested, here are a few links to related material.


I recognize that Wikipedia may not be the best source for bio information, but there is a lot here, accompanied by and supported with a number of citations: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/William_Ernest_Henley


Link to the Introductory YouTube video: https://youtu.be/qACGNPmNtGA


Incidentally, as mentioned in the video, Nelson Mandela, no stranger to incredible challenges, famously recited the poem to himself to help him summon courage during dark moments while imprisoned on Robben Island. Here's a link to an interview where Morgan Freeman, who portrayed Mandela in the 2009 movie of the same title, Invictus, discusses the topic.


Finally, a little shameless plug: if you are interested in subscribing to the Motivation Lab. Click here. You can get the subscription for only $4.97 per month!



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