Are you…In the Arena – Daring Greatly?

May 3, 2009

One of my favorite quotes is the famous excerpt, The Man in the Arena, from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech, Citizenship in a Republic, which he delivered on April 23, 1910 at the University of Paris, Sorbonne:

“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 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 and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for 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 he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt

“Citizenship in a Republic,”
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

Anyone who has spent considerable time and effort in any challenging human endeavor can relate to the idea of being “In the Arena.” Those of us in the business world who have pounded the pavement, flown countless thousands of miles to solve problems, offer solutions…or brave souls who serve in the military…or volunteers who help those in need…parents juggling multiple balls, caring for their children, working tirelessly in a stressful world — understand what it means to be in the arena — and then of course, there are always the critics.

As Roosevelt declares…critics are not the ones who count…on the other hand, those who serve others, lead others, educate others do strive valiantly; they may stumble…miss the mark; however, to dare greatly is to demonstrate courage; to merely stand on the sidelines – – outside of the arena and criticize, is in many respects cowardly. Failing while daring greatly is better than neither failing nor succeeding because one is not in the arena.


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