Motivational speaker and business leader Mary Kelly asked, “What is the best coaching advice you remember? In sports, business, life?”
I answered, “My Navy dad used to remind me of ‘The Man in the Arena’ quote. In other words, it’s easy for others to criticize when they are not in the thick of it. It has always stuck with me.”
Earlier in the week, I had also referred to this same quote by former U.S. President Theodore Roosevelt in response to a different question.
Then last night, looking through some old memorabilia, I came across a piece of paper my father sent me when I was stationed in Korea in the late 1980’s. It said:
It is not the critic that counts, not the man who points how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done 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 deed; who knows the great devotion; who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at worst, if he fails while daring greatly, knows that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.
His handwriting below the quote said, “This is a quote from Teddy Roosevelt. Fawn Hall told Congress they should read it.”
I figured there had to be a reason this quote appeared three times in one week. Was I needing a reminder? Was it a post-Father’s Day thought? Something else?
My cousin told me family research revealed our great-grandfather was one of Teddy Roosevelt’s Sergeant Majors with the Rough Riders. Maybe that explains it.
Whatever the reason, I felt compelled to share the sentiment of “The Man in the Arena” with others. If you have something to add to the conversation, please do!