You Matter. Strive Valiantly!


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. Excerpt from the speech, “Citizenship in a Republic,” delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris on April 23, 1910

Do you ever wish you had the courage to rise above all the triviality? To stop being comfortable, nice and busy? To take more risks and sacrifice for something bigger than yourself?

Last Saturday night, I watched the classic movie, The Power of One, a story of a young English boy named Peekay who develops the courage and friendships to transcend race and culture. He endures the humiliation of bullies, the death of his family and the disgraceful injustice of apartheid, becoming a boxer who fights his way into the hearts and minds of the oppressed.

As the credits rolled, I wanted to stand up and scream, “Let our lives matter! Let our lives be more filled with risk and struggle than comfort and safety!”

Our self-perception often affects our willingness and ability to be valiant, to choose courage when comfort seems like the easier path. How do you see yourself right now?

Are you:

  • Watching comfortably from the stands as others fight it out, their faces marred by dust and sweat and blood?
  • In the arena just trying to survive?
  • In the arena striving valiantly?

green-cut grass in large stadium at summer day, large soccer fie

Perhaps we would be more valiant if we lived like an Olympian in training or a warrior in battle.

We would be tougher to endure pain, more focused on what matters most and more willing to sacrifice time, energy and money for something bigger than our own story.

Whether you lead an organization, a team, a community or a household, the choice of courage over comfort is yours to make. You just have to get started.

Here are three ways we as leaders can start living more valiantly this week:

1. Be more direct. Too often we are worried about offending others or being wrong.  We need leaders who speak truth, even if it doesn’t always feel “nice.”

2. Be more creative. It’s easy to keep doing what’s already being done. Let’s jump off the treadmill long enough to consider new possibilities, and then act on them!

3. Be counter-cultural. We’re told that life is all about us. Be safe. Be happy. Be careful. Do what feels good. How’s that really working out for you?

Let’s seize our life with great enthusiasm and great devotion. And let’s see ourselves as valiant in the arena of life!

What are some of the ways you’re choosing to show courage in the arena? Does your self-perception ever hold you back?

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