The Wo/Man in the Arena

Today I was reminded of this quote, originally uttered by Theodore Roosevelt in 1910.

I first heard it from Brené Brown in her book Daring Greatly. (A great read by the way – I found it quite meaty though. It took some digesting)

Today’s scenario was thus. I went into unfamiliar territory to help someone and I felt (and heard) those watching from the sidelines criticising and critiquing me.

It felt uncomfortable. Prickly. Vulnerable.

My ego / defence mechanism kicked in and started to criticise these people back – in my head.

After a few minutes I stopped.  Pulled myself up. Realised that what I was doing was reacting, and instead decided to shine a light on what was irritating me.

That’s when the quote came to mind. (FYI I’ve altered it to make it gender neutral).

It is not the critic who counts; not the one who points out how the strong person stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better.  The credit belongs to the person 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 themselves in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if they fail, at least fail while daring greatly, so that their place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat

And as I type this now I realise there will ALWAYS be critics, it’s one of the certainties in life.

But if you are one of those people in the arena… putting yourself out there – in a vulnerable place – striving for something, then I salute you.

It may be uncomfortable… but it’s where magic happens.

x A

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