On April 23, 1910, Fifty-two year-old Teddy Roosevelt has served two terms as the U.S. President and is delivering a speech at the Sorbonne in Paris, France. Although we now think of it as “The Man in the Arena” speech, it was originally called “Citizenship in a Republic.”
“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.”
As artists lets not be afraid of “defeat” or making bad work. Let’s enter the arena every day, every moment, and put in the effort. Trust the process and let go of the outcome.
Every day and every moment of each day we have a choice. We can stay in our safe comfort zone, do nothing or repeat the same thing without learning. Or we can step forward into growth, face our challenges, push ourselves a bit more and learn.
Abraham Maslow echos the same wisdom.
“You will either step forward into growth or you will step back into safety.”
Let’s get excited about the next challenges we face in making art! Does your drawing of figures need work? Is your perspective poor? Do you need to study more anatomy to instill more life into your figure paintings?
See them as challenges and step into the arena!
I shall meet you there, daily.