Who really counts?

“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 

This has long been one of my favorite quotes. I have it inscribed on a plaque in my office to serve as a constant reminder of the power of doing things, of being in the fray instead of timidly sitting on the sidelines. Often it seems that there is so much time and energy spent armchair quarterbacking every action and decision made by others. Those who can do or they just figure out how. Those who can’t are simply bureaucrats who talk about what others could have done better…

How do you want to live your life? Do you want to be in the arena desperately striving to win knowing full well that you will suffer defeats at times and you will have to pick yourself up to fight again? Or are you content being a passive observer of your life with your greatest accomplishment becoming your ability to point fingers and make excuses?

Embrace criticism…

“The trouble with most of us is that we would rather be ruined by praise than saved by criticism.”

Norman Vincent Peale

I don’t often repeat quotes within a relatively recent time period (after sending a quote for over 20 years there is bound to be some repetition…) but I was reminded of this quote after a conversation with a colleague yesterday.

“Criticism” carries with it a negative connotation in our language. The dictionary defines it as “the act of passing severe judgment; censure; faultfinding.”  But I prefer to think of it differently, as positive and enhancing, not negative. If you don’t get real feedback how can you ever improve and grow?

If you play baseball and all you hear is praise you are never going to reach your full potential. If you hit a home run everyone will clap and cheer and that is great. But if you start dropping your back shoulder, and no one tells you, you won’t be hitting home runs for long.

Embrace the feedback, any feedback, regardless of the intent of the person providing it. The key for the receiver is to ensure that we have the intent to use it to grow and get better.

If you are interested here is the blog post from the last time I used this quote.

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