President Theodore Roosevelt was a statesman, conservationist, naturalist, and writer who served his country, as the 26th president of the United States from 1901 to 1909. Even to this day, his vision and words are often articulated to illustrate and describe the ways in which we can be better people and create a better country. After his tenure as President of the United States, President Roosevelt gave a speech in 1910, that spoke clearly to the pressures and adversity common people face every day.
It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs, who comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.
In the President’s speech, he praises and gives great honor to the one who is willing to step into “the arena” of life, and take a chance on failure. President Roosevelt acknowledges that in the arena blood is spilled, tears are shed, and our spirit can be crushed, by not only critics and doubters, but by the common man.
As we approach the arena of life, we will trip over our feet, stumble and fall. While in the middle of the arena, you will be left to fend for yourself as the crowd surrounds you looking on. In that crowd, are your family, friends, colleagues, enemies, and despisers. These people will see your shortcomings and all of your errors. Our critics will magnify our issues and every mistake within the arena. Social media will magnify the errors of your ways and give reason to share, retweet, comment and like. It will take extreme courage to step into the arena because it is not guaranteed we will make it out alive. Please understand, there is no guarantee of success or marginal gain.
The Urgency of Now…
Believe it or not, there is something inside you…something worth mentioning because “quitting is not an option.” You show up knowing the dangers and understanding the outcomes can’t be controlled. While in the center of the arena, we have a choice…to give our whole selves to a process and fight to prove we are worthy or lay down to perish in a pool of criticism and pitty. I choose for you, to put on your goggles and start swimming with urgency.
Brene Brown says it best, “Embrace the suck and fight through the doubt”. As we approach life circumstances, the belief and having faith in your abilities will allow you to emerge a better person and ultimately victorious over troubled times.
“It’s very hard to have ideas. It’s very hard to put yourself out there, its very hard to be vulnerable, but people who do are the dreamers, the thinkers and the creators.”
Showing up in the arena is half the battle. To be present and still beat down takes thick skin. Don’t squander your gifts. Use your gifts and take advantage of opportunities and not worry about squandering time, energy or resources. It takes a resilient person to stay in the discomfort and endure harsh criticism. But keep in mind, critics tend to sit in the cheap seats and yell, throw things and point the finger. They do this because it is their “safe space”. Sitting in the back provides no courage, strength, compassion or connection. For example, sitting in the back of church provides a perfect opportunity to hide, passively engage and retreat the moment it is time to tithe.
As an educator and father, I find my purpose to be and chief responsibility to instill in young people, the hope and courage to persevere. And also let them experience disappointment, deal in conflict and the likelihood that we will occasionally fail. They must also have the tools to know that through consistency and mental fortitude, failure is a stepping stone to success.
“Everything worthwhile in life is won through surmounting the associated negative experience”
My Challenge to YOUR Calling
Be daring and push yourself to walk into the arena. Be willing to struggle and wrestle to become great. I ask, where is your arena? What battle within the arena is worth the fight? Who is pushing you past your doubts and self-pity? Are you prepared to walk into the arena and work hard to silence the critics?
As you stand in your “arena”, with your head held high…be uncompromising in the pursuit of one’s objectives.