Step Into the Arena

Posted March 28, 2012 by Marcy Twete in On the Ladder

Brene Brown became a TED sensation last year with her TED Talk on vulnerability. She returned to TED this year and presented a second talk, this time focused on shame. Brown posits that we cannot talk about vulnerability without talking about shame, and that vulnerability is not weakness as it is sometimes perceived, but rather, “The birthplace of innovation, creativity, and change.”

There are hundreds of tidbits of information from Brene’s two talks that could be life altering. For me, though, the one that rings true the most is her hearkening back to the famed Teddy Roosevelt “Man in the Arena” speech. Teddy Roosevelt said, “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 at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly.”

Brene speaks, and I listen, hearing my own story in her voice. For years, we all stand outside our own arena. We wait to go in, promising ourselves there will a better time, a more suitable circumstance, thinking once we go in, we will be able to “kick ass” (her words). But when we enter the arena, our own self-doubt becomes our own worst critic. The “you’re not ready” becomes “who do you think you are”, and we are once again standing afraid and full of potentially shame and vulnerability. But the honor, as Teddy Roosevelt said, goes not to the critic, but to the man (ahem, or woman) in the arena.

Whatever your goal might be, do not be ashamed of your self-doubt, do not be ashamed of your critic. But know, that no matter the goal, the most important key to achieving it is to step into the arena, not later, but now.

About the Author

Marcy Twete

Marcy Twete is a career fundraiser turned corporate responsibility executive, a career and networking expert and the author of the book "You Know Everybody! A Career Girl’s Guide to Building a Network That Works."