Thursday, April 12, 2012

The Man in the Arena Speech

When I was at Elvis Presley's Graceland in Memphis, Tennessee, I was in awe.

Here I was, walking in the home of the King of Rock and Roll. I was conceivably standing where he once stood, where he entertained his guests and friends, and really looking into his life.

Whenever you can see some body's home, you can get a really good idea of what is important to them, and how they live their life. Amidst the Jungle Room, The Record Room, and all the other rooms inside Graceland, the one thing that caught my eye was in the Games Room.

It was unlike any other object in Graceland, and I stopped and noticed it because it looked out of place. I then began to read it, and wonder why Elvis had this, or if it was added after his death.

The thing I saw hanging on the wall in the Games Room was a speech from Theodore Roosevelt that I had never seen or heard of, and it goes like this:

"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 recognized brilliance in this right away, and I took a picture of it so that I could remember it. (This was back in 1999, when you actually went and got film developed, and there wasn't a "Google" option to look something up)

I came back from Graceland and put that picture in a frame as a reminder to always be in action. I wanted to be that man in the arena that Roosevelt spoke of, and not be a spectator in the game of life. -And I had wild successes because of it. I had so many successes, that I had developed a very poor relationship with failure. And as I know now, it's not the successes that make you great, it's the failures that you've overcome that make you truly great.

When all you've known is success, failure can be paralyzing. -And it was to me. It took my ass down a very long and hard journey, where I got some really good one-on-one time with it.

And now, 13 years later when I read that same quote I find it amazing that although the words haven't changed in the 100+ years since it was written, the context has changed in how I see it again, this time with a different view.

I now see that quote as being that this man in the arena IS GOING TO FAIL over and over again. Yet, his relationship to failure is not the same as the "cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat" The man in the ring has developed a stronger relationship with failing than the others who are simply just watching him. In time, this relationship with failure will get stronger, and failing will mean less and less to him. Yet to the people in the stands watching him, their lives will still be dictated by fear, and how they will look if they fail.


I would rather fail miserably (and I have...) and get off my ass, than sit and watch and know that at the end of my life that I sat idly by, and had no contribution of significance.

So what will be your contribution? And what are you prepared to do to train yourself so that you will be that person in the arena? Because you WILL fail. (Many times I might add.)

The only difference is what you are committed to achieving in a life that you can be proud of ,and to really love.

Then, you can achieve anything...

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