On April 23, 1910, a crowd of over 3,000 people gathered at the Sorbonne in Paris to listen to former President of the United States, Teddy Roosevelt.
One particular passage from his speech would forever be remembered as The Man in the Arena. This passage vividly captured the most elusive yet strangely obvious fact of life: the difference between surviving and thriving, between being reactive and being proactive, between seizing time or simply wasting it.
A mere 140 words long, this passage would forever be used to define a person who chooses to become actively involved in a situation that demands courage, tenacity, and the will to act.
These are the words used by Teddy Roosevelt on that spring day in Paris to define the man in the arena:
“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.”
The Blogger in the Arena
As a strange coincidence, I started my first blog on April 22nd, 2012, almost 102 years to the day since Teddy Roosevelt defined “the man in the arena.”
Over the years, as I became a part of the community, I understood that success wasn’t the by-product of skill, but rather the side-effect of will.
Like in a game of domino, the first piece to fall is a blogger’s mindset.
The give up long before deleting their blogs, their articles, and promising themselves to never write an article again.
I, on the other hand, had made myself a different promise: I had promised myself to never, ever, ever give up.
The blogger in the arena “strives valiantly; who errs, comes short again and again, because there is no effort without error and shortcoming”
There’s one piece of advice that I share quite often. It’s, probably, one of the few tips that I offer others as a way of reminding myself of what’s truly important:
Write your truth, even if your hands shake against the keyboard.
The truth, our truth, the things that matter, the experiences we’re afraid to write about, those are the same experiences that are always diminished by the words we use, no matter our skill.
Yet, we try. Again and again and again.
There is no effort without error. There’s something magic about trying, even though you are destined for failure.
Whether you can or can’t, you owe it to yourself to at least try. Yes, you might fail, but if you don’t even try, that’s when you fail by default.
Give yourself permission to fail, to write a bad article, to share your ideas, even if you might be proven wrong.
The blogger in the arena “knows great enthusiasms”
As bloggers, we are basically translating what we think into words and ideas. Sometimes we forget how difficult that is for some people and how important that makes us.
We often forget that blogging is a privilege.
I have received thousands and thousands of comments from folks who simply wanted to thank me for stating what felt like the obvious: something they had been subconsciously aware of, but could never pin down and define properly.
This is the by-product of being enthusiastic about the work that I do, so much so that it doesn’t even feel like work.
The blogger in the arena “spends himself in a worthy cause”
Everybody online is trying to say something, but very few are trying to actually say something important.
Don’t just write to impress, but rather write to express, write in such a way that you add value to your readers, you help them solve a problem, and you add to the conversation that goes on in the community.
The blogger in the arena is someone “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.”
The worst content out there isn’t the one that’s badly written, badly edited. No.
The worst content out there is lukewarm.
The bored teacher trying to share the same boring information, over and over again, to those who are least interested in that information.
Lukewarm content is the type of content that makes readers feel like the author doesn’t think much of them.
As bloggers, most of the time we’re so busy teaching that we forget to take as stand. As a result, our readers get frustrated and leave us.
What is your opinion about the ideas you are writing about? What are your experiences?
What do you stand for? Nothing? There’s no defeat in that, granted. But there’s no victory to be had either.
Success in the blogging world is the by-product of having the courage to write content that makes people feel. Your words, your ideas, your vision, has to either comfort people or disturb them, in order to make them think.
Otherwise, you are sharing the type of content that no one quite bothers to read.
Why would they?
If you’re not a bit scared to click the Publish button, odds are you are not going to make your readers feel enough to even leave a comment.
When they’ll finish reading your article, they’ll instantly forget it. They’ll struggle to figure out what your blog was all about.
If you don’t make your readers feel, you won’t make them think. And, most certainly, you won’t make them act.
The blogger in the arena is not afraid to try, is not afraid to fail, is not afraid to write the truth, even if it’s going to piss some people off.
The blogger in the arena plays the game the way it’s meant to be played: as if their life depends on it.
Because let’s face it, it does.
What do you think makes the difference between a blogger who earns $3 a month and someone who earns $30,000?
One of them fights in the arena, day in and day out as if their lives depend on it. The other guy? Well, they’re in the stands, contemplating some distant future when fighting in the arena won’t hurt so much.