Monday, July 7, 2008

Action Makes the ONLY Difference

Lest I ever forget that I always can give myself credit for doing something - no matter how well or poorly, I love this quote from Teddy Roosevelt (speaking at the Sorbonne in 1910):

“It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled, 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 the dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions and spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who, at worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly; so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory or defeat.”

Long ago, I heard or coined the phrase: If it's worth doing, it's worth doing badly.

Almost no one has understood that, until I explain that it's only by taking the action that I will gain experience. And through experience I can learn how to do something better - or learn that I don't want to do it again. So if I think it's worth doing, why not give it a go? So what if I do it badly? Next time, I'll do a little better.

We tell children that "practice makes perfect" yet do we actually live that way? So many adults (myself included) want to do things at an excellent level - the VERY FIRST TIME we attempt them! That's unrealistic, not to mention ridiculous.

However, this level of expectation is everywhere in our modern western world. Can you believe there is a job title of "critic?" People actually get paid to criticize other people's efforts. It's very sad. This is why so many people in the public eye learn to ignore reviews of their work or stories about them.

Most of us have our own "public" for whom we perform - our family, friends, inner voices. The lesson here is to ignore those voices that criticize us, that tell us we failed, that laugh at our attempts to follow our dreams, that discourage our taking action that might lead to a different path for us.

So the point of what Teddy and I are saying is to ignore those critics. Go ahead, take an action! It may feel risky, yet the real risk is in doing nothing and regretting it.

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