Have you ever been really stung by someone’s criticism, felt the stab of harsh opinion? Have you ever failed at something important to you and lost a little confidence in yourself?
Unless you’re not human your answer almost certainly must be yes! We’ve all felt these hurts, usually many, many times! And each time we do we have a decision to make. Are we going to slink away and hide, lie down and give up? Or, are we going to reenter the arena?
One of my favorite quotes is Theodore Roosevelt’s 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 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.”
We all face many arenas – stepping into a new job, dealing with a difficult boss in an old job, starting a business. The terrifying arena of putting it out there for public office or trying to share our talents with the world and hoping they like us. The different but equally terrifying arena of opening our hearts to love.
Doing any of these things takes courage but it pales in comparison to the courage it takes to have your ass kicked in the arena, to have your heart broken, your pride hammered and then to choose to pick up, dust off and go back in. Hard stuff, not the easy way. But that’s how we grow and it’s how we make a life that makes a difference.
So to all of you who are bruised, wounded, standing before the arena gates with hands or hearts trembling afraid of what the lions and mob will tear into next, know that there are lots of us who feel you, who get it. Your fear is real. So is your strength to push through and dare greatly to love, to strive, to put yourself fully out there once again.
Take a step — the world needs you and your incomparable uniqueness.
If old demons of self-doubt pounce like starving lions remember the past doesn’t dictate your future.
If anyone spits or throws rocks or tears into you they’re only doing it because they’re in terror themselves in their own arenas.
Move you brave soul! The critics, those cold and timid souls who knew neither great victory nor great defeat, are irrelevant in the face of your courage.
Cylvia Hayes #cylviahayes
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