Man in the Arena

20 months ago I set out on a journey. To start my company and reinvent myself. If you are someone who has or ever does desire to take that step you’ll come to understand the resolve it takes to move it forward. Inch by inch. As my good friend The Chairman likes to say, “earning the hard yards mate.” Exhilarating and overwhelming, there is simply nothing quite like the experience. Like most big life events it changes you. You’ll never work harder and yet it almost never feels like work.

My entrance into entrepreneurship came at an interesting time. In the midst of the worst recession since the great depression. I heard the warnings. The assumptions of fast and sure failure. The notion that my industry had never been in worse shape. The reality of confronting the brutal facts.

But for me none of those things were signs to hit the pause button. To the contrary, it was time to press. To get there now. To learn when it was hardest. To make mistakes early. To establish, then evolve a position. It seemed like a wonderful time to experiment and reinvent. To have some fun building and growing. If not right now, when?

The collective experiences (personal and professional) during this time have evolved me as a person. I understand a little bit better the notion that you’ll live with more regret about the things you didn’t do then the mistakes you made when trying. Perhaps not completely but the idea is no longer lost on me.

And yes, the inches and yards come hard. But I guess the value of starting at the bottom is you really don’t know any different. If it’s worth it, you push through. The Dip is coming. Eventually. Inevitably. The real question becomes, what are you going to do about it?

I love the words never give up. Although I also recognize that sometimes it makes complete sense to do just that. Maybe a better thought is never stop trying. Never stop doing your best.

The ‘Man in the Arena’ quote that follows reminds me of that. Exactly where I want to be. I’ll bet that was one hell of a speech.

Man in the Arena

“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 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 and comes up short again and again, because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, who spends himself for 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 he fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat.”

Theodore Roosevelt, “Citizenship in a Republic,”
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

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