Borrowing from Teddy & Brene

mental skills Aug 20, 2019

I recently shared one of my all-time favorite quotes with the handlers in the  Q-Confidence Masterclass. I consider it a sports quote, but really it’s an excerpt from a speech given by former President Teddy Roosevelt in Paris in 1910 following a year of travel:

“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

I re-read this quote often, especially when I come up short of a goal, to remind myself that at least I had the courage to try, to go for it. In Brene Brown’s Netflix show, The Call to Courage, she talks about the impact this quote had on her research and how she views vulnerability and courage and her belief – backed by data – that you cannot have courage without vulnerability. [If you haven’t watched this show, watch it! If you’ve watched it, watch it again!]

Throughout watching Brene’s talk the parallels to competing with our dogs are crystal clear for me. Brene says:

  • If you’re going to live in the arena, be brave, show up, choose courage over comfort and know that you’re going to get your ass kicked.
  • Vulnerability is having the courage to show up even when you don’t control the outcome.
  • Don’t take feedback from those “in the cheap seats,” who don’t have the same vulnerability and courage to put themselves in the arena.
  • Without risk, there is no creativity, no innovation.
  • Data shows that the definition of vulnerability is uncertainty, risk and emotional exposure.

What’s interesting is that throughout this talk, she’s talking about everyday courage and vulnerability – the kind we show in relationships, in work, in life. For me, those of us who step into the ring with our dogs – an imperfect team trying to do something that tests our mettle – is a very vulnerable moment, made more so by the inevitable “feedback” we expect will come.

Roosevelt begins, “It’s not the critic who counts,” yet we all want to belong and we are wired to care about what others think. We “armor-up” to protect ourselves by posting selectively on Facebook or avoiding certain shows. And yet, if we want to level-up, we have to be brave enough to try new things, to innovate, knowing failure is inevitable.

I want you all to know that every time you put yourself out there, go for something you really want, and step to the line that you’re being vulnerable and brave and it’s effing awesome.

There are so many people who let the fear win and don’t try. I’ve entered national events knowing I had little real chance, but I wanted to step into that arena; to test myself and my team; to get my ass kicked in some pretty cool places. Yes, I am competitive, but mostly I want to get better.

Towards the end of the talk Brene shares a story about her daughter who REALLY doesn’t want to swim in a particular race. [Spoiler alert: she does and loses spectacularly.] The daughter tells her parents after the race, “That sucked, but I was brave.”

Be brave today. Show someone else that it’s safe to be brave and vulnerable, to try and fail and try again. Choose courage over comfort and step to the line.

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