Theodore Roosevelt: The Man In The Arena

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I’ve just finished reading Top Dog: The Science Of Winning & Losing by this week’s guest, Ashley Merryman. The book is a fascinating blend of science and storytelling gives brilliant insights into what makes competitors successful or unsuccessful.

Part 3 of the book opens with one of my favourite poems, Teddy Roosevelt’s The Man In The Arena. I first came across this poem about 5 years ago while watching a superb MMA documentary about UFC fighter Spencer Fisher. The documentary (called The Man In The Arena)  is a brilliant and heartbreaking account of one man’s attempt to reach for greatness one last time.

Roosevelt’s poem speaks to anyone who is involved in competition of any kind at any level. Having been involved in competition for most of my adult life, as a competitor and a coach, I love the spirit of the poem. The poem has one potent truth that always spoke to me about my experience of competition:

  • It’s not just about the winning or losing. It’s about the manner of your victories and defeats. If you win, win with courage, grace, and respect. If you lose, make sure you lose to a superior opponent, and lose with bravery, fearlessness, honour, and effort. If you lose like that it’ll mean much more to you than most of your victories.
Check out the documentary trailer below.

It's good to talk

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