Photo courtesy of wallpaper up.com
Theodore Roosevelt was the 26th President of the United States. His Presidency (two terms) concluded in 1909 and in 1910 he was touring Europe when he delivered his famous “Citizenship in a Republic” speech. The speech was lauded for the following passage, in particular
“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 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 best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement,
and who at 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 or defeat.”
Stirring words indeed!
How many of us find ourselves in the arena? How many stand on the sidelines and watch those in the arena?
What is your arena? Is your face marred with dust and sweat and blood?
I’m sure it is, because that is what happens in the arena. Broken hearts, damaged relations, betrayal, disappointment, regret, shame, anger,….name your grief.
The arena is an appropriate metaphor because once you’re in the arena there is no hiding. As anyone who has been crushed by suffering or grief or guilt will attest, it affects all aspects of your life.
Where will you finish up?
Remember you are not alone. You should reach out to those close to you. People you trust and who love you. They will give you a hand or a shoulder or an ear that you need.
At the same time you should ignore the critics in the grandstands. For them you are a spectacle to watch and entertain. They do not have your interests at heart. Do not be concerned with their views and actions, even though they may hurt you.
Fifteen years earlier, Kipling said in “If”
“If you can meet with Triumph and Disaster
And treat those two imposters the same:
If you can bear to hear the truth you’ve spoken
Twisted by knaves to trap fools,
Or watch the things you gave your life to, broken,
And stoop and build ‘em up with worn-out tools…
Yours is the Earth and everything in it….”
Getting into the arena takes courage. It means facing your demons and exploring your vulnerability. The courage that brings you down also sees you rise, if you “dare greatly”.
Inspired by Brené Brown’s Rising Strong