The Man in the Arena

You may have heard the "man in the arena" quote by Theodore Roosevelt. The quote goes like this:

"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."

This is a powerful message that can greatly help you deal with critics, pressure, and adversity. In fact, Lebron James often shares how much this quote has impacted him. He lives by it. He prides himself on being the man in the arena. He used to care about what critics said about him. He would let the haters get to him. But now, he does a great job ignoring the haters. He doesn't need their approval. He's secure in himself, and he knows that he is the man in the arena, not his critics. Therefore, he knows that even if he fails, he can still be proud of himself, no matter what his critics may say. This attitude has helped him persevere through adversity. Not only this, but since it has reduced the amount of pressure he feels, he performs better under pressure as well because of this attitude. Overall, it has made him a better and happier athlete.

As an athlete or coach, I suggest you adopt this attitude too. Read the quote slowly, think deeply about it, and apply it to your own life. I guarantee it will be helpful. However, there is one thing you should be careful about. While it may seem like this quote encourages you to look down upon critics and view yourself as superior, that's not the message you should take from it. You should never arrogantly look down on people. This makes you bitter and unfriendly towards others. While you should ignore the hate that haters give to you, you should never hate the haters personally. You can ignore haters while also having compassion for them and forgiving them. Know that their opinions don't really matter, but also know they're still humans deserving of love. This I believe, is the best and healthiest attitude to have towards critics.

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