The Man in the Arena

Theodore Roosevelt, the 26th President of the United States of America and overall badass, gave a speech titled “Citizenship In A Republic” at the Sorbonne in Paris. He gave the speech one year after his presidency ended, but it became one of the most known speeches of all time. Especially due to a passage named “The Man in the Arena”:

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’m not the first one to post this. But it’s worth reposting. As an entrepreneur, this a passage resonates strongly with me. It helps me keep my shit together and focus on getting work done when I’m in one of the “WTF am I doing here anyways?” phases.

In my life, I’d rather work 10, 20 or 30 years towards a goal that I’m convinced will make a huge positive impact on society and be wrong rather than work a single day for something that doesn’t have meaning.

To my fellow entrepreneurs: Ignore those timid soulds who stand on the sidelines and doubt you, make fun of you or try to give you advice. Surround yourself with people who are also in the arena, and work towards what you think is true. That’s the only thing that counts in this short life.