The Man in the Arena

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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 short again and again,

because there is no effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows the 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 . . .  

From Theodore Roosevelt’s Citizenship in a Republic speech at the Sorbonne in the Grand Amphitheater at the University of Paris in 1910.

This is also the speech that is the backbone of the groundbreaking book Daring Greatly by Dr. Brene Brown. Brown is a vulnerability researcher, author, storyteller and speaker whose mind-shifting, life-affirming work is waking us up to the truth about what it means to live a wholehearted and authentic life.

One of the core teachings Brown offers is that this life is not about winning or losing. It’s about showing up and being seen. Like the man in the arena who stumbles and fails, so do we all. But if we are doing it in the name of coming into our true selves; of showing up in all of our imperfect, messy beauty, then we are doing the valiant work of living bravely with our whole hearts.

Wishing you peace today, my dears.

And the courage to show up and be seen for who you really are.


8 thoughts on “The Man in the Arena

  1. dievca

    It’s fantastic to show up and be seen, but in a culture that teaches our kids that everyone should get a trophy because they just showed up. But, I feel there are lessons to be learned from winning and losing gracefully. Now life doesn’t have to be all about winning and losing — but the consequences and/or rewards should be known.

    1. longandluxe Post author

      I agree 100% that winning and losing offer valuable lessons. The way I interpret this idea of the man in the arena is that neither should be the driving force behind whether or not we strive to live our best lives. It’s not just showing up, per se, but fighting through the dust, sweat, and blood of being seen for who we truly are.

      Saying what needs to be said even if you are afraid you will be met with judgement or ridicule. Strive anyway because your value is courage, not approval or recognition. It’s the woman in the ring getting her butt kicked in the name of being real – imperfect but trying. With no guarantee things will work out.

      Give it all you’ve got no matter what other people think of you, because it’s not the critic who counts. It’s being brave and afraid in the same breath.

      Thank you as always dear dievca for your comments!

      Peace, always ~ Allison


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