Insularity in the Arena: Focus on Your Fight, Not the Critics

May 5, 2018

Facebook Crosspost

ryElliott recently shared a post that got me contemplating my favorite quote, “The Arena,” by Theodore Roosevelt.

I started meandering through Lindsey Stirling’s videos (as one does) and revisited her music video for her song, “The Arena.” It featured a part of the same quote by Roosevelt;

“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. … “

I discovered and fell in love with the full quote about 3 years ago, although it’s only in recent months that I have really started to embody the core message.

I’m realizing that the most prominent “critics” of my life aren’t even real people, but rather my fears, resistance, ego.

Habitually I would spend an insane amount of time thinking about and anticipating what people might say to anything I do, say, or believe in.

I feared those moments and I feared not knowing how to react to them. It led to inaction and biting my tongue so that I wouldn’t have to risk experiencing those moments.

A majority of the time, those moments never came. And when they did, it was either something I hadn’t been able to anticipate or I just flumbered about and still came out alive on the other side.

Surprisingly, most of the time people were either indifferent or curious/excited/supportive.

I’m discovering that it’s more important to just keep doing my own thing, to go “insular” as GaryVee has talked about before. To stay in my lane and stay focused on my art, my voice, my contribution.

I still don’t really “know how” to react to negativity. But I think it will be more effective for me to learn to be okay with fumbling in response to someone.

I would rather spend my time learning how to create better art and contribute to those around me – than to spend my time strategizing the perfect response/defense/explanation.

Entering new strides in my life, I’m experiencing firsthand the importance of living life in the middle of the arena of life, where we’re at risk of “being seen” by the critics – real and imagined.

I’d rather not sit on the sidelines, simply spectating others live their life. Even if I have to take it one small step at a time.

Thank you to those of you who choose to live life in the arena and those that support me in mine. 

” … 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.”