The man in the arena

One of the greatest speeches in our history was spoken by a great leader Theodore Roosevelt. The speech was entitled “Citizenship in a Republic”. He recited his 35 page speech in Paris, France in 1910.

The most memorable, and oft quoted passage, of this speech is:

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.

This is the making of a man. This doesn’t define you, this is what has to be done.

We fight, we claw, we scratch, we fail, we triumph, we celebrate, we love, we hurt, we win, we lose and we carry on.

We screw up, we make mistakes but the making of a man is learning, adapting, overcoming, persevering and rising up above the fray. Its following your passion, its living by the heart, its giving everything you have to create your own life away from the norm – or what you feel is the norm.

Every single one of us has a chance to do that. It doesn’t matter one bit if you were born poor or rich. We came into this world with nothing and we leave with nothing.

What will that legacy be? I am sure some of us will leave behind a mediocre one filled with “what if’s”, “I could have”, “I was once”… and other nonsense that accepts defeat. Some will leave it all on the table and their funeral will be a celebration of life rather than a somber day of passing.

Rather than try to splice this into training and be cliche about that, it stands on its own. You can take this passage and apply it to life in general.

We are men, we are designed to be the ones to carry our own torch until life extinguishes it.

Live it according to the principles you set forth for yourself.

Remember back when you were a child and you had all sorts of lofty goals for yourself. You wanted to be a fireman, you wanted to be a superhero, an astronaut. Now some of you work 9 to 5’s, dreading going to work everyday. Some of you forgot what it is like to really live.

Some of you need to find out again. Some of you need to find out that your heart isn’t just made for pumping blood through your body.

Live, my friends… live.

And if you think that Teddy was just talking to hear himself talk, he wasn’t that guy.

This is the same man who got shot on a campaign trail, in the chest, and STILL gave a speech.

As the Undersecretary of the Navy he resigned to be a part of a volunteer militia called the Rough Riders in the Spanish American war.

When he speaks, take it to heart.



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