Living Life 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 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 and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for 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 he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.” –Teddy Roosevelt

I stumbled onto this quote while in New Mexico last week with Lindsey. It got my blood pumping. It stirred my soul. It reminded me of my personal mission in life to live without regrets. (In fact, someone said I think of regrets as a demon that haunts me.)

Teddy said it best: I want to live my whole life IN THE ARENA. Not outside the ring. Not in the cheap seats. Not watching at home from the comfort of my couch.

I want to be in the MIDDLE  and center of all the action.

I want to take the risk it takes to step into the arena in the place. To hear my name called. To feel the fear and uncertainty. To embrace it. To be part of the story. And the conflict. To feel the risk and to reap the reward of having actively participated in my own life. And made the most of my time on earth.

I don’t want to be a mere spectator of life and the limited time, talent and treasure I’ve been trusted with. Or worse, someone who simply sits back, with a smug stupid face and merely criticizes … that’s hot air and waste and folly. Roosevelt calls them “cold and timid souls.” How small and meaningless that life is.

I want to be consumed with “great enthusiasms,” “great devotions,” and “worthy causes” so that I might know “the triumph of high achievement.”

I want to dare to do and be something great.

And if I do fail in the pursuit of something bigger and better than myself and my current reality … I want to fail because I dared to do something epic, worthy of stories we tell around the fire.

Living in the arena … is about living life to its richest and most meaningful fullest …

It’s about living a life without regrets, in the center of the action, taking chances, embracing uncertainty, hearing the roar and jeers of the crowd … all for something so big and daring and bold and purposeful and beautiful … so much bigger than your thoughts or dreams … that winning or losing becomes inconsequential all because you simply had the GUTS to do something that few ever attempt.

… you simply stepped into the arena.


4 replies on “Living Life In The Arena”

Cory – this is a great post. It reminds me of something I read about Gelsey Kirkland, the ballerina. George Balanchine asked all the girls auditioning to show him lots of energy! Kirkland wanted to win a spot in the ballet company so badly that she ended up falling & tumbling across the floor. She started to cry but Balanchine began to applaud her – and she got the spot. I guess he saw that no matter what, she was not afraid to get “in the arena.” He told all the girls who were giggling at Kirkland that they were just lazy girls who could learn something from her. And she certainly proved him right!

Great quote. I too want to live life in the “arena” instead of on the sidelines. It’s only in the arena where greatness happens. Standing on the sidelines just wishing and hoping gets you nowhere.

Powerful post from a wise warrior. Many historical figures have relevant thoughts that are helpful for those of us in the trenches trying to make a better way for ourselves and others.

Love your blog and the motivation it inspires.

Thanks all – it definitely stirred me up. The entire quote is a mission statement for how I want to live life. Glad it helped you guys too!

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