Man (or woman) in the arena

I didn’t know anything about this speech until I was directed to it by a theatre critic. I published a post about failure on Witness Theatre’s website after we ultimately failed in our production of ‘Window’ at Brighton Fringe. This critic gave us a pretty bad review, also saying that we’d failed having been given a chance to step up as a company. We had no qualms with the review – although harsh – we knew we’d failed. So, I wrote about that and about the positive aspects of failure that is always viewed so negatively. Our critic responded saying he’d failed in the judgement of our work, not giving fair weighting to what it was we were trying to do; which was, as always, very ambitious.

So often those of us who have high ambitions beat ourselves up about not achieving this and that, we forget what it is we are actually trying to do and how worth of respect that is in itself. There are so many people who don’t, as Roosevelt puts it in the speech, ever set foot inside the arena. So remember to praise yourself for trying, and if you fail just keep going. As Beckett says: ” fail again, fail better”.

Here’s  an extract from the speech: Theodore Roosevelt, 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.

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