I had the craziest weekend ever, from sadness and loss to happiness and hope and everything in between. I got a couple of emails that seemed to speak to a good chunk of what happened.
The first was Theodore Roosevelt’s “The Man In The Arena” Speech at the Sorbonne Paris, France April 23, 1910. This is the speech with the famous “critic” quote.
However, I thought there were so many other juicy parts to this speech. There has been huge changes since this speech over a hundred years ago, but it seems like much of what President Roosevelt was calling for then still needs to be addressed now. In particular, I thought this quote was far more prescient (both the state of our country now and my weekend):
Today I shall speak to you on the subject of individual citizenship, the one subject of vital importance to you, my hearers, and to me and my countrymen, because you and we are great citizens of great democratic republics. A democratic republic such as ours – an effort to realize its full sense government by, of, and for the people – represents the most gigantic of all possible social experiments, the one fraught with great responsibilities alike for good and evil. The success of republics like yours and like ours means the glory, and our failure of despair, of mankind; and for you and for us the question of the quality of the individual citizen is supreme. Under other forms of government, under the rule of one man or very few men, the quality of the leaders is all-important. If, under such governments, the quality of the rulers is high enough, then the nations for generations lead a brilliant career, and add substantially to the sum of world achievement, no matter how low the quality of average citizen; because the average citizen is an almost negligible quantity in working out the final results of that type of national greatness. But with you and us the case is different. With you here, and with us in my own home, in the long run, success or failure will be conditioned upon the way in which the average man, the average women, does his or her duty, first in the ordinary, every-day affairs of life, and next in those great occasional cries which call for heroic virtues. The average citizen must be a good citizen if our republics are to succeed. The stream will not permanently rise higher than the main source; and the main source of national power and national greatness is found in the average citizenship of the nation. Therefore it behooves us to do our best to see that the standard of the average citizen is kept high; and the average cannot be kept high unless the standard of the leaders is very much higher.
Another email I got this weekend quoted from the book, Have You Filled a Bucket Today? by Carol McCloud (Author), David Messing (Illustrator). I had never heard of this book but it is a great one. You can check out the book on video, it is a super fast “read.”
What I got from these two different perspectives, delivered almost a century apart, is this: We often forget that the work we do at the gym, or any sustained effort at self-improvement, is both very slow, and yet, very profound. We are reminded of our weakness when we come back from a break, but we don’t often remember in just a few workouts how we are back to where we were when we left for our break, nor, and probably more importantly, how much stronger we are since we first started. While goals and planning are incredibly useful, sometimes we get caught in a motivational quagmire, not really sure if we are doing the right thing today to get where we want to be, because we lack the vision President Roosevelt had in 1910. Without vision, we can turn things around and simplify. Whether it is simply rolling out and drinking a quart of water or setting multiple PRs. Do only what you can do today. Make every workout a demonstration of your commitment to health.