The Man in the Arena

Though it’s not a universal thing among my friends and cohorts, I really love Brene Brown. I see myself when I listen to or read her.

In her talk to a bunch of creative folk at 99u, Brown explained how she found the title of her second book, Daring Greatly. The TED talk she gave after her first book, The Gifts of Imperfection, resulted in horrible and very personal criticism – not about her work, either, but about her. She admits that she was devastated by the comments about her work.

Feeling beat up, she wallowed in ten hours of Downton Abbey. She half laughs about not wanting to leave the Downton world and how she Googled the characters and the era, ultimately finding herself on Teddy Roosevelt’s page. On that page, she found a quote that spoke not just to her, but to legions of her fans. This quote, one that changed her life, is often referred to as “The Man in the Arena” by Roosevelt fans.

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.

Brown says she took three things from that quote, and the images it invokes.

First, she likens this quote to what she has learned over the years about vulnerability. Being vulnerable means being in that arena, being present, and being alert in our lives, in our activities.

Second, she says, too, that this is who she wants to be. She wants to be in the arena, trying, and whether she wins or fails, she believes she will always be glad she was in the arena.

The best result of the quote, is she felt a shift in her. She isn’t going to be derailed by arm chair critis. “If,” she says, “you’re not in the arena also getting your ass kicked, I’m not interested in your feedback.”


I know I’ll be writing more about this post, but for right now, I’m celebrating that I feel the same way. I’ve often shared my heartfelt notion that other peopple

Source: Fierce Recovery

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