Stay In The Arena...

Tell me if this sounds familiar.

My desk is littered with ideas and plans, covered with potential programs and events, business ideas and development plans, strewn with contacts and lists and things to do. There too lies a pile replete with examples of failures, mistakes, moments best learned from rather than repeated.

This pile takes center stage - they say we learn more from our defeats than our victories.

Time seems to be passing so quickly now, as if once my eyes are shut it quickens its pace, willing itself to fly away before I have the chance to grasp it too tight. Isn't that one of our most common, most shared fears, that we do not have the time to accomplish all that we set out to achieve?

How much more then does that feeling weigh down the wings of our dreams when coupled with the chains of our naysayers, those seeming ever-present doubters who whether through personal misfortune or misplaced ambition would rather see others fail than help those around them succeed?

It is so easy to do nothing, to allow one's fears and concerns to lock the chains to the weights of our own insecurities and thereby allow time to gather momentum away from all our aspirations.

But life isn't easy.

So why take the easy options?

Why allow the world beyond one's own control to dictate that which we can influence ourselves? If there is nothing to be gained from not trying, from not pursuing the potential we know we have inside us to truly be happy, to truly be fulfilled, then how can that possibly even be an option?

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.

The Man in the Arena, Teddy Roosevelt, at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on April 23, 1910.
In almost every speech, every presentation, I have spoken of personal responsibility, of one's duty to be great, to be conscious that the choices we make and the actions we take are our own, able to influence our state of mind, our own successes and failure. Entrusted with this extraordinary power, why then allow ourselves to waste such a wonderful opportunity?

Success, happiness, even contentment are so achievable, if only we recognise the responsibility, the "duty" we have to aim for and pursue our own "happyness"... Roosevelt made mention of something very similar in another passage of the above speech:

in the long run, success or failure will be conditioned upon the way in which the average man, the average women, does his or her duty, first in the ordinary, every-day affairs of life, and next in those great occasional cries which call for heroic virtues.
Failure is not the end. Nor is struggle, nor is conflict, nor are the chorus of "no's" and "cannot's" that come from those with less passion and less purpose.

Go chase down those dreams, and if you fall, wipe the dust and sweat and blood off and give chase again.

Whatever you do, stay in the arena.


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