The Man in the Arena

The Olympics

A dialogue on courage would be incomplete without Teddy Roosevelt’s “The Man in the Arena.”  On April 23, 1910, Teddy Roosevelt gave a speech entitled, “Citizenship in a Republic,” at the Sorbonne, Paris. Thirty-five pages long, the unforgettable passage is found on the seventh page.

Many years later, Nelson Mandela gave a copy of this speech to François Pienaar, captain of the South African rugby team, before the start of the 1995 Rugby World Cup. (As a point of interest, in the film based on those events, the poem Invictus is used instead.)

“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.”

Teddy Roosevelt

26Th President of the United States

10 Comments

  1. Gallivanta says:

    What a speech! Interesting that it is usually leaders of less democratic nations that indulge in long speeches these days. Our ‘free’ media like leaders to keep their speeches short and viewer friendly. I wonder how long it took Roosevelt to deliver his 35 page speech?

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    1. Clanmother says:

      I was thinking the same thing – 35 pages! Seems long to me, bu I understand he keep his audiences on the edge of their seats…

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  2. A truly remarkable man and exceptional leader. Great post!

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    1. Clanmother says:

      Thanks so much, Emily! He was a remarkable man – and he married a remarkable woman.

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  3. arjun bagga says:

    Strangely sometimes, there is unspoken high in defeat too. Love to fall, see who picks me up ;). Bad addictiion, I say

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    1. Clanmother says:

      Well said – “unspoken high in defeat.”

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  4. Ms Frances says:

    Teddy Roosevelt–all of us need to study his life. His life was not only very interesting, but very courageous. A great president and a great man for his time and ours, as well.

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    1. Clanmother says:

      I just finished reading “River of Doubt” by Candice Millard and was amazed by his perseverance. And his wife was just as courageous!!!

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  5. cindy knoke says:

    Wow! I am sending this to my family.

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    1. Clanmother says:

      Thank you! Every time I felt like I was walking backwards, uphill, I took out that quote!

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