Thursday, March 3, 2011

Get in the Ring with the Lions!

     I was recently asked why I used the phrase "Get in the ring with the lions" and if that was reference to the movie directed by Ridley Scott and starring Russell Crowe.  

     While I found the second part of the question colorful and a bit humorous, my statement is actually a reference to a speech given by President Theodore Roosevelt to a gathering in Paris in 1910.

    If you have ever been in a leadership position then I'm sure you've had the occasion or requirement to interact and work with folks outside the core team who have no real stake in whether your effort succeeds or fails.  Some of these individuals feel compelled to be critical of the effort despite their complete lack of contribution, involvement or personal consequence related to the outcome.  

     At best, the engagements with critics like these is a frustrating time sink.

     So when things get tough . . .
     . . .and I am dealing with folks who are not actively engaged in driving or helping the group towards success, but could contribute in a meaningful way, I often ask them to enter President Roosevelt's metaphorical 'arena' by issuing a challenge:

     "Get in the ring with the lions!"

     I hope you find the message of this speech to be a reminder that leadership is a risk filled endeavor where success requires you to be "in the arena" and not sitting in the audience watching the struggle.

     "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 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 and comes up short again and again, 
because there is no effort without error or shortcoming, 
but who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions, 
who spends himself for 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 he fails while daring greatly, 
so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls 
who knew neither victory nor defeat."

Theodore Roosevelt
"Citizenship in a Republic,"
Speech at the Sorbonne, Paris, April 23, 1910

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