Daring Greatly: A Kick in the Pants

This quote from Theodore Roosevelt hit me like a ton of bricks this evening:

“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.”

I’ve been struggling lately about things like this, which I know in my logical head, but have yet to fully embody in my heart. It is only by taking risks to do something I am not certain will succeed that I learn, grow, create and innovate. Maybe it’s because I’ve felt the sting of defeat, the dirt kicked in my face, the bloodied knees, the bruised ego, or the red-faced embarrassment. And I’ve experienced the real, deep, piercing pain that those things cause. So, perhaps it is logical that I protect myself and recede from risk.

But, what my heart knows is that the pain never lasts that long. No matter how deep the cut, dusty my seat, or bruised my ego, it will be washed away by time. Except for when it’s not. And that’s the difference. There are some arenas from which I can’t stay away, no matter what punishment I’ve taken in the ring. And there are others from which I hide, entirely or by playing the critic. And so it’s those thoughts and experiences that it’s time to name, to explore, and to understand.

When are you a doer of deeds? When are you a back seat driver? And what’s keeping you from taking the steering wheel?

Thanks Teddy. I needed that kick in the pants today.

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