“It is not the critic who counts, nor the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, 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 short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, and spends himself in a worthy cause; Who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement; and who, at the worst, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.”
President Theodore Roosevelt
Speech at the Sorbonne
April 23, 1910
It’s really no contest when someone asks me about my favorite quote. I found this one about 6 years ago just when I needed it – when I needed a fresh perspective on my “bias towards action.” It’s called Roosevelt’s Man in the Arena.
Sticking your neck out isn’t always easy – especially when it’s tinted with a lot of grey. Arrows can fly. Second guessing can abound.
Consequently, my friend fear can sometimes convince me that the prospect of being wrong, or suffering negative critique, can justify prolonged indecision.
But then there’s Teddy.
He frames his argument towards action perfectly by not only venerating “the triumph of high achievement” but bestowing nobility on failure, leaving the option of doing nothing (literally) out in the cold.
So whenever Mr. Fear eats away at my confidence, I turn to Mr. Roosevelt, who has never let me down.
Because above all else, I want to know those “great enthusiasms and devotions”.
What else can a half-fuller do?