Theodore Roosevelt gave a speech in Paris, France in April of 1910 titled “Citizenship in a Republic.” From that speech is the excerpt below:
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.
I stumbled across this little gem watching a Brené Brown ted talk about vulnerability and it really spoke to me. It is about making a point to show up and try, regardless of what the outcome of your efforts may be. Getting in life’s arena over and over again, despite the blood, sweat, and tears it takes and creates. If your efforts achieve the end result you are after, then you are victorious and should take great pride in it. But, it is not just about winning or losing, it is also about taking pride in the courage it takes to get into the arena day in and day out. Cause let’s face it, the arena is a huge and scary place! Seriously! It can be full of stress, violence and tragedy as well as accomplishment, and the opportunity to feel the sun on your face. It can create the chance to be in the spotlight at an important and valuable time in your life. It has the potential to be amazing. It also holds the potential for failure. Sometimes what people may even deem epic failure, which may lead to shame and embarrassment. That we then must conquer within ourselves, before we try again.
What if you choose not to get in the arena at all, but you sit on the sideline watching the doers? Maybe you throw dirt at the efforts of others, thinking if you were in there, you could definitely do better. Could you? Why are you not in there trying? What happens if you spend your life sitting on the outside of the arena, never daring to enter? Afraid of possible failure and what it would mean to your ego, or to your family. Would you get down to the end of your life and regret it? Regret never having tried? Spending your last days thinking about what might have happened “if?”
To me, there are only two scenarios, you are either in life’s arena or your not. As for me, as scary and intimidating as it is, I am going to choose to enter into life’s arena at every opportunity. Regardless of whether it frightens me or not. I personally would rather try and fail, than never try at all. As you never know when that one moment might lead to success and you have the opportunity to feel the sunshine on your face. The sweet taste of victory in your mouth, regardless of how small the victory may be. At this point in my life, I have decided it is worth it. No matter how many times I fail, I will pick myself up and try again. This is who I am.
(Check out Brené Brown’s ted talk, where she talks about going into the arena “naked” and vulnerable. Taking off the armor we have built around ourselves for protection. It is pretty thought provoking and a little bit frighting to think about.) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8-JXOnFOXQk