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.
The time has come. Finals are here – the challenge that you’ve been building to for the last several months. For some this will be just a simple “test” (forgive the pun). For others the challenges you face are much more daunting. You’re tired, anxious, maybe a little done with it all. For those just starting the academic journey, you have another 11 semester (plus) of this. Are you ready? Of course you are. The last stanza of this powerful and ancient poem leaves us with a declaration that should reaffirm us all: no matter the path before me, I am in control of my life; I control my destiny.
Earlier tonight, I reminded a group of students with whom I work that success is a process. There are a few steps one must achieve if they are to be “masters” of their fate, and “captains” of their souls:
1. Do everything you can to know yourself more than anything else in this world. Before any text, other person, or skill, you should have an intimate understanding of yourself, which includes your strengths, talents, fears, and passions. How can you ever master that which you do not know?
2. Build relationships that will build you. Surround yourself with people who care about you, and for whom you care about. The reciprocal love that you put out and receive will shape your life in extraordinary ways.
3. Visualize success. Now visualize failure. Which one do you want? Literally go through the process of asking yourself where you will be if you fail in your current goals. The conversation can be an illuminating one. You may find that you need to be doing something else, or you may find the motivation you need to tackle your next challenge with renewed purpose and confidence.
So go forward scholars and leaders; dig deep to close out this semester and this year with the tenacity and ferocity that only you can bring. Despite your circumstances and despite the darkness that may loom ahead of you; remember the words of William Ernest Henley, and be unconquered.