Man in the Arena

I am going to share part of one of my go-to motivational speeches with you. The first time I read the quote from the speech, the man in the arena, brought tears to my eyes. Each time I hear or read the following, it helps me understand that my struggles are not in vain.

This video will help further motivate you and help you understand that you are not alone in your efforts to stay in motion and motivated.

John F. Kennedy once quoted Theodore Roosevelt’s “The Man in the Arena” speech. This video emphasizes the essence of the speech by recognizing the courage service members must embody every day. Imagery includes footage from all the Departments of Defense. (U.S. Air Force video by Airman 1st Class Rachel L. VanZale)

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 the 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.

Roosevelt, T. (1910, April 23). The man in the arena. TR Center – Man in the Arena.

Speech: Citizenship in a Republic

Citizenship in a Republic is the title of a speech given by Theodore Roosevelt, former President of the United States, at the Sorbonne in Paris, France, on April 23, 1910. The speech is popularly known as “The Man in the Arena.” His statements at the Sorbonne were part of a larger trip to Europe that also included visits to Vienna, Budapest, and Oslo. On May 5, 1910, he gave his Nobel Prize speech.1

Many people do not feel motivated enough to achieve their goals. Nor do they see themselves as motivated in any special way. It is not the overall achievements that make a difference in your life. The everyday duties and the day-in and day-out forward movement can speak volumes about an individual.

An example of achievement is something a person receives after expending energy and sacrifice. Hollow accomplishment is of little regard. Achievement means more when a person continually strives through hardship and sacrifice to reach their goal.

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Dare Greatly

Daring greatly involves stepping out of your comfort zone and taking risks even when you fear failure or vulnerability. It requires having the courage to be authentic and show up as your true self, despite the potential for criticism or rejection.

To dare greatly, you can start by identifying your fears and limiting beliefs, and then actively working to challenge them. It also involves cultivating a growth mindset, learning from failures, and surrounding yourself with supportive people who encourage and motivate you to take bold actions. Ultimately, daring greatly requires practice, persistence, and a willingness to take action toward your goals and dreams.

Be the man in the arena

Being the man in the arena requires courage, determination, and a willingness to take risks. It means stepping out of one’s comfort zone and facing challenges head-on, even if success is not guaranteed. It requires resilience and the ability to overcome setbacks and failures.

While critics may sit on the sidelines and pass judgment, the man in the arena fights valiantly, striving to achieve greatness and make a difference. In the end, it is not the critic who counts, but the man who puts himself in the arena and gives his all.

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©️ Michael Meisberger 2023


1 Theodore Roosevelt Center Organization. (1910, April 23). TR Center – Man in the Arena. Theodore Roosevelt Center at Dickenson State University. Retrieved June 13, 2023, from

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