The man in the arena

The man in the arena

The Decoded | No. 1 | The Man in the Arena | By Lisanne

CITIZENSHIP in a republic is the title of a speech delivered by Theodore Roosevelt at the Sorbonne in Paris, on April 23, 1910.

The most memorable section of the speech is referred to as “The Man in the Arena”; someone who is out there fighting the battle, as opposed to someone sitting on the sidelines and watching. It eloquently states,

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.

It’s a notable passage that emphasizes something important:

Spending life trying to become perfect or “bulletproof”, makes us squander our precious time. To develop the gifts unique to us and the contributions that only we can make, we must walk into the arena first, and become visible.

But those who become masters of their craft not only found the courage to show up and be seen, but they’re also likely to activate consciousness in those still striving to become perfect or “bulletproof”. We just can’t take it personal.

If criticism is the consequence of the courage that we hold, then we must become aware of the sender of the criticism. Does the feedback come from the man in the arena, or does it come from someone sitting on the sidelines and watching? We get to decide whose feedback we value and hold close.



  1. A passage from The Man In The Arena Full Speech.


Further Reading:


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