In 1910, Teddy Roosevelt traveled via the Orient Express to delivery his powerful Citizenship in a Republic speech at the Sorbonne in Paris. The speech emphasized his belief that the success of a republic rested not on the brilliance of its citizens but on disciplined work and character—the quality of its people. He highlighted that it’s not words but deeds that matter. Roosevelt firmly believed that one learned by doing. It is better to stumble than to do nothing or to sit by and criticize those that are “in the arena,” he explained.
Below is The Man in the Arena speech which was first uttered 110 years ago, but equally relevant today:
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
Does this feel incredibly relevant now in the middle of this global pandemic? I know you are in the arena and I want you to know that your work matters. Deeds, not words, make the man. We might need to read this every day for a while. You’re not alone. Stay strong.
Fun Facts: Roosevelt was the first President to fly an airplane, to own a car, to have a telephone in his home and travel outside the borders of the U.S. while still in office.