In the Arena.
That’s become one of my favorite phrases. It’s from the famous Theodore Roosevelt quote:
“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.”
You, if you’re a School Owner, a Business Owner, a Mom, a Dad, an Instructor, an Assistant – you’re in the arena. You’re trying, failing, fucking up and starting over. Learning, hurting, helping, laughing and not giving up.
And because of it, you’re vulnerable. You’re being authentically you. And it’s scary.
Trust me, I know. You step into your business everyday and you’re exposed. It’s scary stuff.
But it’s not just scary to you. It’s also scary to the critics. The parents in the audience who wonder “why everything changes all the time”, the instructor down the street who calls your place a “McDojo”, the commenter on Youtube who can “kick your karate ass”.
It’s not just you. You’re not alone.
I recently posted an ad on Craigslist for a position with my website company. It’s a very well paying position, and I was very specific about the type of person I wanted and the type of person I didn’t want. It wasn’t your regular, boring corporate style job posting, because…well, that wouldn’t be me. The title was “Entrepreneurial Minded Assistant/Support Agent/All Around Badass”.
I posted the job description and stepped into the arena. I had multiple resumes within days. People were motivated and inspired by the ad. In fact, I had someone say “This is EXACTLY what I’ve been looking for”.
But I also had someone send me an email calling me a “lying sack of shit”, complete with a picture of a small child flipping the middle finger.
Yeah, it was weird. I emailed him back, thinking he was trying to be witty – after all, the job posting was for a “Badass”.
Nope, I was wrong. Warning – I’m going to be explicit (although I’ll keep the worst of his language to myself) to illustrate just how angry he was at me.
He told me he thought my ad was fake and that I was trying to abuse people and I was a liar and if he ever found out who I was he’d use his “considerable” power to make sure I was hurt so bad that the only thing I’d be able to do would be to perform sex acts in the bad part of town.
Don’t be mistaken – it wasn’t because he didn’t like my ad, it was because he didn’t like that I was in the arena.
Why? I don’t know. He’s clearly hurting. Maybe he stepped into the arena once and got knocked down (lord knows we’ve all been there). But instead of getting up, he crawled into the stands and became a critic.
So don’t, my friends, let the critics in the stands sway you from your purpose. It’s not the critics who counts. It’s the man/woman in the arena.
I’ll see you in the arena my friends.