Just a Thought: Step Into The Arena and Dare Greatly


Do you live life in the bleachers or in the arena? Living life right should be living life in the arena. Each of us has been equipped to do great things, but to do so we need to have the courage and bravery to step into the arena. That single step makes all the difference in the days we have.

Unfortunately, most of mankind is fearful of what may happen if they step in the arena. So they never do. They live their lives in the bleachers never to enter the arena. They live on the outside looking in.

We seek to live life within our comfort zone. We like predictability. We like living life in such a manner that we don’t ruffle others’ feathers.

If we step into the arena we may offend others or we may get beat up. Stepping into the arena causes others to think about us and gives others permission to be critical about what we are doing. None of us like to risk getting poor reviews.

Life is more fun and peaceful sitting in the stands with millions of others being critical of those in the arena. Why not? We are entitled to have our opinion of others and we can safely communicate what we feel. Who cares if what we say hits another squarely between the eyes and knocks them out? We have the ability to throw our stone from the crowd and then duck back into the masses with no consequences. We like having freedom of speech.

Or you can be courageous and vulnerable and step into the arena with the knowledge that there are many with stones in their hands ready to throw at you. Some of the stones thrown by others will hit you squarely between your eyes. Can you handle that and then recover?

Theodore Roosevelt left the office of the Presidency of the United States in 1909. On April 23, 1910 after a series of talks in Northern Africa and Europe, he delivered a speech in Paris that became known as “The Man in the Arena.” In his talk he pointed out how easy it is to be the critic, but how important it is to step into the arena. The speech includes the following:

“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.”

President Roosevelt’s words really sum up who should get the credit in the lives they live. He discounts the critic who never sets foot in the arena. He adds value to those who have the courage to step into the arena. Those are the ones who should be recognized and applauded.

Those in the arena have faces marred by dust and sweat and blood. They err and they fail, but they fail valiantly. They come up short again and again. But most importantly they believe in a worthy cause and they dare greatly not knowing if they will find victory or defeat.

Contrast this to the timid souls who sit on the sidelines and don’t risk failure thereby missing the possibility of achieving success. There are millions of cheap seats out there. And there is one available for you to sit in...no, there are thousands of cheap seats available for you to sit in.

Or you can gather yourself together, take the gift set you have been equipped with, and step forward into the arena knowing you will be marred by dust and sweat and blood; knowing you will be critiqued and picked apart for what you do.

The choice is yours. Either way, your days are numbered. It is just a matter of time before you breathe your last breath. It may be sooner than you expect. We are only here on earth for a short period of time.

Will your epitaph read, “Here lies the greatest critic who ever lived” or will it read “Here lies a person who stepped into the arena”?

My challenge to you is to get out of your seat and step into the arena. Risk failure. Risk having to pick yourself up off the ground after critics beat you up. Risk being marred by sweat and blood. Accept the fact that it is alright if you get kicked in the rear repeatedly.

In your life you need to show up and be seen. Answer your call to courage. Only by stepping into the arena do you have the chance to change those around you and change the world. Only by daring greatly can you make a difference with the days you have.

Repeatedly tell yourself you are not afraid of what may happen by stepping into the arena. Remind yourself the cost is worth the possible return. Then take that step and change the world around you with the single life you have been given to spend.

Just a thought...

Rick Kraft is a motivational speaker, a syndicated columnist, a published author, and an attorney. To submit comments, contributions, or ideas, e-mail to rkraft@kraftlawfirm.org or write to P.O. Box 850, Roswell, New Mexico, 88202 - 0850.


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