In Dr. Brene Brown’s New York Times best-seller book, “Daring Greatly” she opens the book with one of the most poignant passages I’ve ever read. Taken from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic” which was delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on April 23, 1910, the passage reads:
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.
The book “Daring Greatly” is all about how the courage to be vulnerable transforms the way we live, love, parent and lead. There are joys and pitfalls of being vulnerable. The joy is that you feel free to be yourself, imperfections and all and present them to people around you hope will accept them and love you anyway. Or to paraphrase Dr. Brown, “be able to carry the weight of your story”. The pitfalls include being judged, ridiculed, ostracized and talked about based on presumptuous assumptions based on hearsay.
The one thing I have found to be true is folks will talk about you and they have never been in the arena. Hell, they have never been on the block of the arena or better yet don’t know the name of the arena. They criticize you but they have never done what you are trying to do. Your critics don’t matter. Your critics do not know what defeat feels like because they don’t have the courage to go into the arena.
If you are in the arena, I applaud you. Continue to shine bright even when others wish, hope and pray for you to dim your light to make them comfortable. While there are naysayers standing on the outside of the arena criticizing you, there are also people watching you go in and fight, come out battered and go back in the very next day who are inspired by your determination and focus. To quote a wise friend, it doesn’t matter if you throw glitter or shade, there are some people will never like you. And that’s okay. Your purpose and achievements do not require applause or the approval of people who never have and probably never will step one foot into the arena.