Are You In The Arena?

AThanks to Brené Brown, I was recently introduced to Teddy Roosevelt’s famous 1910 speech about the man in the arena:

“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.” 

Teddy Roosevelt, Excerpt of April 23, 1910 Speech in Paris, France

Ever since connecting with this speech, I have been inspired by it and its messages—so many messages.

Here are my questions for you:

  • Are you even in the arena? If not, are you ready to step in?
  • If you’re in the arena, are you sitting in the stands watching or are you in the fight?
  • If you’re in the arena, are you looking for more or better weapons (or sharpening your current weapons) or have you jumped into the fight?
  • When you look in the mirror, do you see the blood, sweat, tears and dust of someone who is in the fight, or do you look good?

This speech and its invitation is a call to action for me. Most days, I feel like I’m in the arena and in the fight, but when I ask the above questions I realize that some days I’m in the arena, but not in the fight. I also consider the days when I’m spending my time acquiring more weapons or sharpening the weapons and tools that I have rather than being active in the fight.

Being in the arena is all about the fight, no matter what the theme, topic, challenge, opportunity or issue. I want to look in the mirror every night and see the evidence of the fight, and thus to know that I’m IN. Are you ready to be in? Are you ready to join me in the arena and in the fight? Take a look in the mirror and be honest—are you in or waiting to be in? They are very different answers and experiences, and change only happens when you dare greatly and step into the fight in the center of the arena. Where are you, and who is waiting for you to step into the arena and the fight?

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