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The Credit

arenaFor most of my life, I’ve had a portion of Teddy Roosevelt’s speech at the Sorbonne memorized.  “It is not the critic who counts… The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena.”  It’s moving.  It moves me in the sense that I actually take action when I think of it, hear it in my head or in my heart.  The issue is at the moment, the critics have such a large megaphone that it becomes hard to hear our heads and our hearts.  The echo of other people’s point of view tends to linger, burn and even cut the ones who are actually in the arena.  The credit may belong to the man in the arena but that credit is hard earned because people want you to lose and never let you forget it.

The only thing to do is go deaf.  Deaf to the jeers, the criticisms and the negativity.  The volume of the critic does not matter if you pay no attention.  Besides the only reason the words of the critic ever penetrated is because you believed them at least partially.  Their message about you being a failure or a loser resonated with you on some level deep within.  So the inner critic is actually the one that has the power to take you down.

The way to silence the inner critic is to run.  Run straight into the arena.  Sleep there, eat there, get your ass kicked there but at least in the arena, the inner critic has to stay in the stands.  He can’t get his hands on you as long as you stay fixed in the center of the ring.  Perhaps in the end you’ll find out that the critics were right and you didn’t have the stuff.  But at least you’ll know for sure, while they’re left wondering about themselves.  Outwardly chastising but inwardly envying the chance that you took to gain the credit of the arena.

Have a great weekend!

Pete

Blogpost, self-reliance

The Worst of the Best

KeanuTo a certain extent, I feel like I’m in therapy or at an AA meeting about to admit one of my biggest weaknesses but here it goes: I like a lot of Keanu Reeves’ movies.  It really shouldn’t be that embarrassing because the man’s movies have made millions (maybe billions) over the years.  Unfortunately he gets a bad rap because he’s pretty goofy and doesn’t have a lot of range.  The interesting thing is that for the most part, this anti-Keanu sentiment comes from people who have never acted before and have paid to see his movies.  So is it really that he is THAT bad?  Or do people simply have a need to pick apart a mediocre swan because it’s easier than looking in the water to see an ugly duckling reflected back?

While wading through all of the photos, videos, memes, tweets and posts, it is possible that some of us get a little judgmental.  It’s easy to forget when looking at a screen that the people on the other side are human.  They have hopes, fears, idiosyncrasies, habits and faults.  These are all things that we expect from the people that we are close to.  However when looking at people on social media or especially people in the spotlight, all understanding goes out the window.  The best of the best need to be as close to infallible as possible.  If they fall anywhere short of that standard, then we of the judging majority can swoop in to point out their shortcoming.

But it is not the critic who counts*.  The internet has given each of us a voice.  That voice should be used to make your own special contribution to the world.  Not to tear down that of another.  The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena*.  So take that chance to put your own stamp on the world.  Don’t worry about the haters because even Keanu has got them.  Would you rather be the worst of the best or the best of the worst?  Put another way.  Would you rather have produced something that wasn’t great?  Or never produced anything but gotten really good at calling out other people’s failures?  One’s easy and one’s hard but the decision should be obvious.

Go make something happen.  Let someone else do the criticizing.

Action!

Pete

*Lines from Teddy Roosevelt’s speech at the Sorbonne.