“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, who 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 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 neither know victory nor defeat.”
That was Teddy Roosevelt speaking at the Sorbonne over a hundred years ago in 1910. I run these words every 4th of July week because they ring true every year, and I rediscover something new in them annually.
“It is not the critic who counts” — TR might well have been talking about your “frenemies” — those people who think they are doing you, or the greater world, a service by criticizing, complaining, cutting down your efforts with their words of alleged helpfulness.
The office scold, the “negative Ned” or the lazy loudmouth — those people whose lack of ambition, talent or kindness lead them to the place where they invest their time in tearing you down rather than building themselves, and those around them, up.
TR’s striking words remind you that all their words are weightless, worthless — meaningless, really, in the scale of the world or the scope of your lifetime.
Other people have their other motives for doing what they do. You’ll not figure them out if you spend a lifetime studying their insecurities, insufficiencies or incompetence.
So the best to do is to ignore them.
And focus on what you would like to achieve. This Independence Day and every day…
It is not the critic who counts.
I’ll be rooting for you every step of the way,