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.

Theodore Roosevelt

It’s an easy thing to sit in our chairs and watch other people leave their marks on the world. The envy that we feel towards someone who is living the life we wish we could live is a common part of life, and eventually we become numb to it. It’s much easier to accept the fact that you will never lead such a life than to make an attempt and fail along the way.

Theodore Roosevelt — ever a man of action — recognized that the person who gets dirty and beaten while pursuing a goal is living a better life than a person who is clean and comfortable in an armchair. Fear of being “marred by dust and sweat and blood” is what keeps so many people from doing what they actually want to do. Their fears aren’t for nothing; stepping outside of your comfort zone will be painful and potentially embarrassing. But to do so is to stand out from the flock, to forever differentiate yourself from “those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.”

What is it that you wish you could do, but fear failing at? What action would you like to take but haven’t for fear of getting dirty? It’s the man and woman of action that will ultimately step outside of their comfort zones while the rest of the world sits back and watches.

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