Have you ever heard the quote from Teddy Roosevelt, “The Man in the Arena”? Can you recite it from memory? Well, my 8-year-old daughter can and it shocked the pants off me… maybe that sounded too weird. Maybe a better way to say it is, I was shocked, surprised, and fiercely proud of her…and It was kinda weird how it happened.
I was at an event a few weeks ago and was asked to get on stage and introduce myself as one of the Business, Leadership, and Mindset coaches. I was the 4th and last person to do an intro and decided, rather than say the same thing as the other Navy SEAL and Green Beret coaches; I started with reciting a couple of verses from Teddy Rosevelt’s “The Man in the Arena” because the whole purpose of standing on a stage and speaking is to inspire, educate, and entertain.
Later we broke into groups, and I was surprised at the number of people who came up to me and said they had never heard it before.
I have heard quite a few people recite it from stage, on Ted Talks, and see posters everywhere. As a matter of fact, I have had two different people send me plaques that have the quote on it to hang on my wall.
I would say the main difference between me reciting it and most other people is, I recite two verses and almost everyone else only does the most well-known verse. “It isn’t the critic that counts. It isn’t the man who points out how the strong man stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done them better…”.
I’m not sure the first time I heard it or if it had much of an impact on my life at the time, but I do know that it was inspiring. Then about 2 years ago I decided to learn the “whole speech”, or two verses that I found on YouTube. Being self-conscious, I only practiced while driving alone or while traveling across the country. Once I was pretty close to having it down pretty good, I may have practiced it at home.
What I didn’t realize is that my youngest daughter was listening to me practice and I had no idea. Then one night at dinner, she just starts with…” The poorest way to face a life is to face it with a sneer,” and then continues to recite the entire speech!!!
For the record, I’m certain that I only practiced it at home five times or less. However, it was pretty clear she learned it from listening to me practice because she would mess up in the same places I messed up.
You never know what your kids are learning from you…
I’ve been asked many times why I decided to learn the speech “Man in the Arena”? Well…it gets me pretty fired up, and there are a TON of great lessons in there. So when I recite it from the stage, it fires up the crowd!
Now I’ve turned it into a parenting hack. LOL!
Since my daughter knows it as well as I do, every morning I drive her to school, she is required to recite Man in the Arena.
In the beginning, she was stoked! Then one day, she started pushing back and didn’t want to say it anymore on the drive to school.
Well, that wasn’t ok with me. So I told her my Top Secret plan, and she was a part of it. Now I will share it with you.
As someone who travels around the world to speak on different stages, there is a part of every presentation (5 Secrets to Learn to Think Like a Navy SEAL or 5 Navy SEAL Secrets of Leadership) where I recite The Man in the Arena. My Top Secret plan for her, to keep her wanting to never forget and keep practicing, was this…
“One day, I will be on a stage speaking to thousands of people, and when I come to that part of my presentation where I recite Man in the Arena, I will pause and call you (Emily) up onto the stage to recite it with me.”
It would sound something like this: Dad- ”The poorest way to face a life,” Emily- ”is to face it with a sneer.” Dad- ”There are many men,” Emily–
”who feel a twisted pride in synonyms.”
Now, I get almost zero pushback from her when we drive to school…
If you would like to learn more on how to think like a Navy SEAL, check the link below to get 5 SEAL Secrets (Learn How to Think Like a Navy SEAL). Together we will make the world a better place every time we step into the ARENA! Connect with William: https://liinks.co/william.branum