I was listening to Daring Greatly by Brene Brown when she quoted a passage so powerful I stopped what I was doing and just listened.
I recognized it as Theodore Roosevelt’s “The Man in the Arena.” I had read this before and thought it was great but then I met my husband and realized how important it was to him.
When I first met Drew there were several Army posters hanging around his college bachelor apartment. One of them showcased a green beret (which he would earn years later) above the statement “It says more about you than you’d ever say about yourself.” It was a sentence that instantly branded itself in my mind.
This was him. It was what he cared about and didn’t care about. It’s what he stood up in his beliefs and what he stayed seated for when they ask those serving to stand and be recognized. I had never met someone as humble, hardworking and steadfast as he was. He had always earned the best grades, performed as an outstanding athlete and was respected for his professionalism. The only time you heard the list of awards and achievements was if someone else was reading them off while he was earning another one. I was amazed, impressed and encouraged to be better.
In Daring Greatly, Brown shares how her daughter came home from school crying. To make a long story short, the two popular kids would pick their soccer teams a few people at a time by calling out their names. They would then ‘split the others.’ She was upset because she was never called by her name but considered an ‘other.’
Starting at a young age we are always distinguished between groups and rankings; mostly as a source of convenience but also as a progress marker. Personally I wasn’t the STAR traditional athlete (I think coaches breathed a sigh of relief when I stepped off the court or field). I was on the JV squad and was embarrassed my parents had to come so early to the games. Surely they liked watching my sister play Varsity sports much better.
Those good at sports and then the others.
I wasn’t (or had been told and didn’t believe myself to be) the smartest, at home or in school, and was told so numerous times by adults. I was sent to Sylvan Learning Center in the summer, Jumpstart Math Classes during the school year and it was a miracle I never flunked math classes. But ask me to write an English paper, I would be done in 30 minutes with A+ work.
Those who ‘got it’ and then the others.
Do. NOT. even get me started with the cruel S.O.B called puberty. If you name it, I probably dealt with it: spotted skin, janky bangs, Harry Potter glasses, crooked teeth, braces…twice…so I know I wasn’t the best looking! But it all calmed down and soon the kids who made fun of me were experiencing their own bouts of ‘the uglies’ so it all worked out.;)
Those kids who were blessed and then the others.
You probably also felt as though it were me against the others as any dramatic teen ever did. In every situation I always felt as though it were me against the others. And that’s something that’s even carried through to adulthood.
You don’t have to be a parent to recognize this. We were all once children.
You had days that were awful, days that were great, times you had your heartbroken, lost the game, flunked the test or had something amazing happen you committed to memory.
The thing is you kept getting through it. You have made it through 100% of your bad days and you are still going. The point is that you keep trying, keep working, keep fighting.
The credit goes to the man in the arena, not the man who is showing off his ticket to the game.
Too often there are people stealing valor, using their rank or position, bragging on their accomplishments, belittling those trying to make it…
You are going to be undervalued and overworked. You might be putting in the hours, the dirt, sweat and grime but someone else is the face of your hard work. They’re publicizing their one shiny outcome when there are multiple others doing more, working harder and putting in the time.
You can be the person criticizing political choices on Facebook or you can take action to physically make something good happen. They’re the truly grateful ones not the ones who put on a facade of being one person but turn around and morph into another.
As Roosevelt said…the credit belongs to the man who keeps trying and trying; not the one who thinks he’s made it. “Not the cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat.” The people who know there is more success in avoiding complacency than there is in good enough.
In life, in love, in business…there is always something better than good enough. As long as you’re learning, working and pursuing what sets your soul on fire, you are the man in the arena. Don’t be the person saying how much you’re doing; be the person putting in the work and making a difference. There are those who will put pretentious titles in their bios, take credit for uncompleted degrees or post photos of the ‘sacrifices’ they are making.
Look behind them for the ones truly making a difference.
These are the ones worth knowing.
Surround yourself with the others.
Do you still feel like you’re missing that one thing to take your business to the next level? I can help with that.