Compass Resources for The Critic

Former President Theodore Roosevelt stood at the Sorbonne in Paris on April 23, 1920, and delivered his speech, “Citizenship in a Republic” to a captivated and diverse audience of politicians, educators, students, military personnel, ministers of state, and general admission spectators. His words provided a challenge for both leaders and common citizens to prioritize the pursuit of moral courage, integrity, and virtue. One particular excerpt from this speech has remained popular over the years.

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.

– Theodore Roosevelt

 Your Place in the Arena

How are you showing up to your everyday life? Are you an active participant in your own journey, or are you sitting on the sidelines, casting judgment on those willing to dare greatly?

Actively stepping into the arena of our own lives is scary. It requires us to embrace the challenges and risks that come with pursuing worthy causes. It asks us to welcome the vulnerability that comes with trying and failing. The alternative, though, leaves us sitting on the outside, being robbed of the chance to experience the triumphs and heartaches that make us feel fully alive and instead, drives us into isolation and desperation.

Spur One Another On

The self-examination of our place in the arena can lead to some sobering moments. If you find yourself on the outside as a critic, judging the actions, emotions, and growth of others, you don’t have to stay there. Stepping into the arena and getting your hands dirty with the dust, sweat, and tears that come with growth takes just one step at a time.

In Scripture, the book of Hebrews highlights that we should not neglect meeting together but instead, encourage and spur one another on toward love and good deeds (Hebrews 10:24-25). Seek out a community of like-minded individuals who have stepped into their own arenas and are committed to standing shoulder-to-shoulder with others in theirs. Connect with others who have dared greatly in their own lives. In doing so, you’ll find support, encouragement, and guidance from partners who will share in your victories and defeats and are committed to creating a safe space for vulnerability and growth amidst the messiness of life.

Invite Others In

If you’re in need of a community willing to walk past the rows of seats made for the critics and step down into the dust of the arena with you, consider attending a retreat with The Crucible Project or joining a group. Learn to lean on others and allow the voices of those standing by your side to drown out the noise of negativity that seek to tear you down. Learn to dare greatly.