Teddy Roosevelt Gave a Speech for President Trump 100 Years Ago

April/27/2020 11:08AM
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Anyone who has reached a senior leadership position in any large organization get’s the picture. On the way up, you get strokes galore. From bosses, customers, peers, etc. At a senior level all that stops. The politics kick in just like in Washington DC.

You are expected to accomplish big things and there is no acknowledgment of those. Senior people in other departments protect turf and stab you in the back. Dozens want your job and are competing for the big job at the top so they suck up to the big guy and trash you in the process. It’s a jungle.

The CEO is not exempt. His direct reports want the big job and work behind his back to get there. The shareholders are never happy. The investment analysts the same. The Board of Directors expect miracles and will jump on the CEO for any shortfalls. There are leaks to the financial press.

The President of the United States lives in a fishbowl. Evidently Teddy Roosevelt was experiencing similar treatment as most Presidents do, Obama, excepted. For a multitude of reasons, he got a pass. Not Teddy as evidenced by this speech. Some consider it one of the greatest speeches given by a President.

Roosevelt firmly believed that one learned by doing. It is better to stumble than to do nothing or to sit by and criticize those that are “in the arena” he explained. “The poorest way to face life is with a sneer.” It is a sign of weakness. “To judge a man merely by success,” he said, “is an abhorrent wrong.” The famous paragraph from that speech, reproduced below, expressed the standard by which he judged himself and others:

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, and 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 know neither victory nor defeat.

Perhaps never in the history is this more appropriate. President Trump is in the arena with his face marred by dust and sweat and blood. While Biden cowers in his basement, Pelosi and Schumer throw rocks, and a biased media coats him in blood daily.

He deserves better, but his place will never be with those cold and timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat.

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