“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 and comes up short again and again because there is no effort without error and shortcomings, who knows the great devotion, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the high achievement of triumph, and who at worst, if he fails while daring greatly, knows his place will never be with the timid and cold souls who know neither victory nor defeat.” Theodore Roosevelt
What wonderful, inspiring words! They’re the words of a fighter, someone in the arena, who’s been flat on his back more than once and fought his way back. They were written more than 100 years ago, but they are as fresh and timely as if they were hot off the presses,
written just for us.
For each of us. Because all of us are in that arena along with Teddy. We may be battling life challenges that make it difficult to write. Or we may be battling writing challenges that make it hard to go forward and write on. Wherever we are and whatever we’re facing, we can take heart from Teddy’s words — and also remember — that we can read and rise to them because he wrote them down. He gave them to us as a fighter and as a writer.
So what wisdom is Teddy passing on to us? To my mind, he’s telling us:
The world belongs to those in the arena — those who are out there every day, battling for what they believe. We need to be “doers of deeds” — not standing on the sidelines.
When we strive valiantly — when we make things happen — it’s going to be messy. We’re going to be buffeted. We’re going to be bloodied. It’s the price we pay for being in the game.
Whenever we push forward and make the effort to do something worth doing, we’re going to take missteps, have false starts, and come up short — we’re going to face tough times, trials, reversals of fortune. Making progress means making mistakes.
If we spend ourselves in a worthy cause, though we’ll experience failure, we’ll also taste triumph — we will know victory. And it will be sweet!
Bravo, Teddy. Inspired and emboldened, let’s get out there in the arena — and write on!