Man in the Arena

Theodore Roosevelt delivered a speech in 1910 called, “The Citizenship in a Republic” or is more commonly known as “The Man in the Arena.”

This speech is helpful for anyone that has been criticized in life for pursuing something– entrepreneurs, athletes, entertainers, artists, comedians, the list goes on.

The social media world of today transmits social interactions faster than any period in the past. Therefore, there will be more of it. Anytime friction is reduced, an act will occur more often.

Before the internet became ubiquitous, communication was done via postal mail. There was criticism, of course, 100 years ago, 200 years ago and thousands of years ago; however, before the internet, there was more time and effort required to communicate one’s thoughts.

It is necessary for a society to have feedback, criticism, that is how we iterate, improve, reduce weaknesses, friction, inefficiencies, however, ad hominem (personal attacks) are usually more of frustrations emanating from persons that are undergoing some frustrations in their lives and they are redirecting it to others to help themselves feel better. In the field of psychology, this would be referred to as projection.

When criticism is directed toward you, first, think about the nature of the criticism. Is it related, in some way, to helping you improve some product or something specific to yourself? Or, is it more of a personal attack that is due to personal reasons from the person putting forth the criticism? If it is the former, then we should be thankful for the input, as this will allow us to improve something we are working or help us to become a better person. If it is the latter, it might be helpful to think (or read) of Roosevelt’s speech in 1910:

            “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.”

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