The Man In The Arena

In business, motivation by Michael Michelini13 Comments

I am loving this, friends keep on passing along more motivational excerpts they use in their business motivation. A friend Paul Chong recently passed the below along to me in an email:

The struggle is beautiful…

The Man in the Arena

is the title of a speech given by Teddy Roosevelt at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on April 23, 1910. It was subsequently re-printed in his book Citizenship in a Republic.

The speech is notable for the extended passage:

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 passage was quoted by Richard Nixon’s resignation speech on August 8, 1974: “Sometimes I have succeeded and sometimes I have failed, but always I have taken heart from what Theodore Roosevelt once said about the man in the arena, ‘whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, […]

Nelson Mandela also gave a copy of this speech to Francois Pienaar, captain of the South African rugby team, before the start of the 1995 Rugby World Cup.

Someone who is heavily involved in a situation that requires courage, skill, or tenacity (as opposed to someone sitting on the sidelines and watching), is sometimes referred to as “the man in the arena.”

I love it! And its true – BECAUSE EVEN IF WE FAIL (which I don’t really believe in, failure just means we have to try our approach in a different form) – NO ONE CAN TAKE AWAY FROM US THE EXPERIENCE WE HAVE GAINED. and it makes us that much bigger, stronger, and more prepared for the next STRUGGLE. We have at least tried. We are not just CRITICS, who never WIN OR LOSE. Or put another way, there is a phrase I remember:

“It is better to have tried and failed then to have never tried at all.”

There is another quote I have kept around my desk I also want to add to this:

What counts is not necessarily the size of the dog in the fight – it’s
the size of the fight in the dog.
– Dwight D Eisenhower

I have to think, this makes me think of the movie GLADIATOR – which definitely motivates me in almost every day of my life. I actually don’t know how historically factual the Gladiator movie is, but its still inspirational. A simple farmer who becomes a army general. He commands respect from his army. He doesn’t need to manipulate or force people to follow him. He is on the same level as the army, he is in the trenches, he fights, he struggles, and he bleeds like everyone else. YOU HAVE TO GET DIRTY – especially in small business. I feel like a scrapper. A street fighter. going against the odds. Because, FACE IT – MOST SMALL COMPANIES FAIL. You have to keep pushing, even when the times seem the worse – that is exactly when we need to push harder then ever. That is when our swings, our punches, make the biggest effect.

Maybe that is what this blog is trying to achieve. I am not afraid to show my swinging, sometimes in complete darkness. I may fail, and I guess I will have to reflect on that failure in a future blog entry. But you know what, I have “failed” many times, in different business endeavors. But I keep going forward. And that is what life is about, and I hope it brings success. Because we cannot lose hope, we cannot give up.

So cheers, to the blood, sweat, and tears required in life. Without it, we wouldn’t appreciate the days to celebrate success.