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“Invictus” – for leaders facing and overcoming adversity

By October 23, 2013June 9th, 2014Learnings

“I am the master of my fate: I am the captain of my soul” from the Victorian poem Invictus by William Ernest Henry (1849-1903) remains as relevant and rousing today as when written.  The full poem was recited by Emily Maguire on “Midweek” a BBC Radio 4 programme hosted by Libby Purves.

Emily suffers from bipolar disorder and is a songwriter, performer and author. She shared her experiences, triumphs and her new album “Bird inside a Cage”. I highly recommend listening to the conversation as it raises questions and hope for facing adversity, challenges and suffering. Of particular interest to those of us pursuing personal and professional development is the capacity to learn from our adversities and to turn them around to become the sources of our successes.

Emily also spoke of impermanence. If you are striving for and overwhelmed by the need for certainty, being seen as the expert and needing to know it all, it is an invitation to pause and reflect.

Here is the full text of 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.

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