Will – A Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Will - A Poem by Ella Wheeler Wilcox
This entry is part 13 of 15 in the series Poetry and Management

Will is a poem by American poetess Ella Wheeler Wilcox, famous for the collection Poems and Passion in which the famous quote “Laugh, and the world laughs with you; weep, and you weep alone” can be found. Although some of her quotes reached a wide audience, her poetry has had mixed fortune, and some of her work has been even portrayed in examples of bad poetry. Yet, she has been a protagonist in a period where equal opportunities for female artists had all to be built.

This is the 14th contribution to my Poetry & Management collectionPoetry has always been one of my favourite forms of expressions, probably one of the eclectic sides of my multipotentialite trait. I feel it can be really useful as support in our management and leadership quests, as it is probably one of the greatest tools of sense-making and self-expression. Which is why I will be sharing more of these over time.


There is no chance, no destiny, no fate, 
    Can circumvent or hinder or control 
    The firm resolve of a determined soul. 
Gifts count for nothing; will alone is great; 
All things give way before it, soon or late. 
    What obstacle can stay the mighty force 
    Of the sea-seeking river in its course, 
Or cause the ascending orb of day to wait? 
Each well-born soul must win what it deserves. 
Let the fool prate of luck. The fortunate 
    Is he whose earnest purpose never swerves, 
    Whose slightest action or inaction serves 
The one great aim. Why, even Death stands still, 
And waits an hour sometimes for such a will.

 Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Source: Poetical works of Ella Wheeler Wilcox. by Ella Wheeler Wilcox 
Edinburgh : W. P. Nimmo, Hay, & Mitchell, 1917.

A Short Comment

I chose this poetry for its strong reference to determination and will. These two traits, very important in leadership and in change management context, are key in determining one’s reaction to obstacles and difficulties. The poetess strongly states that change, destiny, fate are not forces can be opposed to the firm resolve of a determined soul. Aligning to the strong American sentiment of self-realization, it is will and will alone that can get us growing.

The role of talents, or “gift” is secondary compared to that of will, according to the poem. Also Fortune gets redefined, as the fortunate / is he whose earnest purpose never swerves“, adding an almost ethical dimension to one’s dream and vision. Purpose becomes “The one great aim”, that supports the strength of the human will and give hints to the secrets of Flow.

From a management perspective, another example of poetry that underlines the role of motivation in human achievement, a key element we always need to consider in any change or transformation.

Also, a great message to consider as we conclude this year 2021.

What do you think of this poem? Write a Comment below.

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Series Navigation<< Thinking – A Poem by Walter D. WintleThe One I Hate – A Poem by Strickland Gillilan >>If – A Poem by Rudyard Kipling >>
  1. Avatar of Phil Heineman
    Phil Heineman

    About the poem “Will” by my favorite poetess Ella,I once attended a lecture at a local university. The speaker talked only about the poem and how will power is what enabled our founding fathers and second and third presidents, John Adams and Thomas Jefferson to die on the same day: July 4th,1826. Fifty years to the day since the signing of the Declaration of Independence on July 4,1776. I collect books and have a few of Ella’s. I even have an Autographed copy with slight corrections. She circled the offending letters. Thanks for giving a damn about good poetry,too few do these days. Now watch the movie “Gunga Din” from Kipling.

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