The Man (or Woman) in the Arena


I’ve been contemplating this quote by Theodore Roosevelt for the past couple of days:

“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.”IMG_3219

I’ve been lucky in that I have a lot of supportive people in my life as I “strive to do the deeds.” My friends and family have been there for me as I’ve progressed in Aikido, performed as a dancer, and began the long journey of writing a novel. I hope I’ve been supportive and not a critic for my friends who have gone back to school, started their own businesses, written novels, and began new adventures. All around me I see people being supportive of each other.

Roosevelt is right. In the end it’s better to have dared greatly and failed than to never have tried in the first place.

What about you? What big thing have you dared? Was it successful or did it fail? Are you surrounded by supporters or critics?


3 thoughts on “The Man (or Woman) in the Arena”

  1. I don’t see that critic and supporter are mutually exclusive. Without the teachers and critics who help us recognize our weak spots or poor technique, we would never make it to the arena. Someone had to teach TR how to shoot and fish and use a compass and critique his performance during those activities. Maybe if the arena striver had experienced the benefit of a good critic earlier in the career, there would be less dust and blood and sweat marring the face.

    1. kimberlysbarton

      Good point. I take what he means as being the person who just sits back and criticizes even though he hasn’t ever really tried anything. I think of people who watch sports and criticize the players and coaches, but who don’t play and have no idea what it’s like. That’s the kind of critic I think of when I see this quote.

      The critic who gives healthy criticism, who is there to help and support, is different. Sometimes, even with the best critics, we still end up with blood and dirt marring us!

      1. There is a word for what you describe: detractor aka Monday-morning quarterback, and I agree that someone who has never tried to do something needs to be careful about opinions. That’s why I wrote a novel so I would understand the process better.

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