#25: The Man in the Arena

It’s Friday, and it’s been one longgggg election week. I will keep this short and sweet. But I hope everyone has an amazing, restful weekend filled with people you love doing things you love.

Back in April, I wanted to learn more about leaders throughout history and how they dealt with major crises. Since it was recommended by Bill Gates, I picked up a copy of Leadership in Turbulent Times, written by renown historian Doris Kearns Goodwin. Leadership focuses on the lives of four of our most distinguished presidents in history: Abraham Lincoln, Theodore Roosevelt, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and Lyndon B. Johnson.

Focusing today on good ole Teddy Roosevelt, he started his life as a weak kid who did not think of himself as a leader. Once he became president at the age of 53, he thought about what got him to the White House. He talks about there being two types of success: the first being the person who has “natural power” and innate abilities to lead. The second, more common type of leader (and who Teddy resonates with most) is dependent on someone’s ability to develop ordinary qualities to the extraordinary degree through hard work and dedication. He says that unlike the born genius, the self-made success is democratic, “open to the average man of sound body and fair mind, who has no remarkable mental or physical attributes,” but who enlarges each of those attributes to the the maximum degree (Goodwin 23-24).

On a day where it looks like a new President of the United States is going to be announced, I wanted to share a quote from Theodore Roosevelt that has stood the test of time. You’ve probably seen it but I wanted to be the millionth person to quote it since I find it so powerful:

“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

The work is not done. It’s never done. Time for all of us to step into the arena.

Cheers to positive and transformative leadership,


This was Day 25 of my 30 Day Blogging Challenge! But I think I’ll stick around longer.

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Published by Jonah Baer

Florida State student | Memphis, TN native

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