The Man in the Arena

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01st June, 2022

One of my favourite quotes is, ‘Be an encourager.The world has plenty of critics already.’ by Dave Willis.

Whenever I think of that quote, Iam reminded of a 110-year old lecture by former US President Theodore Roosevelt.

I believe this passage provides a great perspective on the current times – The idea of empathising with  those facing the action.

The lecture was titled “Citizenship in a Republic”, and this notable passage is referred to as

“The Man in the Arena” and it reads thus:

“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.

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

The ‘correct Strategy’ in hindsight or retrospect is easier, without the complete understanding of the circumstances or the context in which it was taken.

We are prone to criticizing, the govt officer, or the entrepreneur, or that corporate manager whose decision making skills we often criticize when they make a mistake or when his business is not doing well, are all  “Man in the arena.”

We, are the ones sitting on the sidelines, watching, talking, and criticizing.

It is better to stumble than to do nothing or to sit by and criticize those that are “in the arena.”

“The poorest way to face life is with a sneer,” said Roosevelt in his speech.

It is a sign of weakness; “To judge a man merely by success is an abhorrent wrong,” he said.

Let’s pause, Lets reflect, Let’s respect, Lets empathise with and Salute the ‘Man in the Arena’ and stay blessed forever.