The Man in the Arena

In 1910, Theodore Roosevelt spoke on “Citizenship in a Republic” to the Sorbonne, in Paris. This is an excerpt from that speech:

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.

Teddy seems pretty clear and my normal parsing is redundant. I might comment that it might be difficult for some to see the arena. Is it simply taking a risk? We do that when we get out of bed every day. Is it standing up for what we believe? Is it putting it on the line and then rolling the dice?

It may be all those things, but something more. I think it is stepping forward. Entering the arena and letting the world know what you are about. It could be something as simple as defending an idea, or as complex as promoting your business or future. But in any case, we need an arena, with people actually watching.

Over the next few months Parking Today Media is going to be experimenting with the idea of offering ourselves as that arena. Use us as you will. Step up, let people know what you are about. Learn what it is like to taste victory and defeat. Use the largest and definitive media outlet for our industry, reach out to your peers and tell your story.

One last thing. Yes Teddy used the term “MAN.” I offer no apology for it. If you know anything about TR, you know that he meant all mankind. Theodore Roosevelt was one of the leading proponents for women’s rights and suffrage in his time. His campaigning brought the vote to women and support to those who worked in the sweatshops in his native New York City. He fought for women and won.

He lived what he described in his speech. He strove, erred, came up short, spent himself on worthy causes, and knew both the triumph of high achievement and also failure. But he failed while daring greatly.

In the next few months, you will be seeing more about the arena here in Parking Today and just what you might do to experience that thrill of victory, and also maybe agony of defeat. There are no guarantees. How can you know what it is to succeed until you have failed?


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