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 said this. These words were part of his speech “Citizenship In A Republic,” given at the Sorbonne on April 23, 1910. This particular section of that speech has influenced many individuals over the years. In the recent past, they have been the inspiration for author Brene Brown and her book Daring Greatly. They even showed up in a collection of Cadillac commercials with that same daring greatly emphasis.
You have to admit that’s a great line – “if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly.” It gets the blood moving. And while its mucho silly to dissect this up into lines because its all a seamless piece, “daring greatly” is not my favorite line. I gravitate to those first seven words: “It is not the critic who counts.”
Everybody and their cousin is a critic these days. Social media has enabled us to take our opinions that were once limited to the coffee shop or the town square, and broadcast them to the world with a click. And while there are numerous positive aspects to social media, it has unleashed the critical spirit, and some days it is monstrous. That’s why having something tangible, like Teddy’s words, to remind yourself every day to stay at it, whatever “it” is that you’re trying to do or striving after or reaching for. Copy those words on a 3x5 and tack it to your dashboard. Download a copy of them to your phone and use it as your screen image. And if you don’t have room for the entire quote, at least get those first seven words down: “It is not the critic that counts.” Because it’s not.