A word to the wise on the day before the 4th of July:
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.
That was, Theodore Roosevelt speaking at the Sorbonne in 1910. (It sounds like he’s read the comments section on the internet before.)
I start every 4th of July newsletter with this quote because it inspires us, and reminds us that cheap talk has nothing to do with who we really are.
Look, your critics are wrong about you. They don’t know what it’s like to be you. They haven’t experienced what you have. They don’t know the trade-offs or the troubles or the trials and tribulations you’ve seen.
They’re just critics, just commenters, just ranting on the internet in the dark of night in order to try to soothe something in the dark of their soul.
At your best, when you thoroughly consider it, perhaps you ought to feel some empathy for them. After all, someone who is so lacking in good things in their life that they need to waste their limited hours of the waking day to say mean things, can’t be someone who is very happy with themselves, or who they are, or what they’ve become.
At the least, you should take nasty words for what they are — the useless and mindless waste product of another human’s sadness or anger.
It’s just not worth getting upset about.
On the occasions in your life when you’ve criticized unfairly, or made unkind comments, or were not as loving of your fellow man as you could have been, how much thought and considered effort had you put into your behavior? Probably not much. And how much credence, in retrospect, should your target have given your words? Again, the answer is usually “not that much”.
So if in your own life, with your own words, you can see that the negative comments and criticism that you made weren’t all that serious, why, o why, would you give weight to the angry, sad, pathetic words of others with regard to the great things you are trying to achieve?
Well, if you listen to TR, the answer is you won’t.
And on Independence Day Eve, you can give thanks that this great American is helping us to see the light a hundred years beyond the grave: it is not the critic who counts.
May your Fourth be filled with fireworks, fun and family, my friends!
I’m rooting for you!