In her bestselling book, Daring Greatly, one of my absolute favorite sheroes, gurus, and personal life coach (although she does not know this part yet), Brene Brown quotes Theodore Roosevelt. The quotes reads:
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.
Take a moment and please digest these brilliant words.
Let them permeate your mind and forever live in your spirit. They are worthy of finding a home there. These are words that bring tears to my eyes and stoke a raging fire in my belly every time that I read them. These are words by which I want to live the rest of my life.
So here’s my question to you, “Are you living in the arena?”
If you are, I congratulate you on the joyful and painstaking journey you took to arrive at such a sacred destination. If you are not, boy have you got to get in there. But if you are not sure whether you are in the arena, here’s the test. As my coach Brene says, “If [you’re] not a little bit nauseous when [you’re] done, [you] probably did not show up like you should have shown up.”
Anyone who knows me intimately knows that I am a true creature of habit. I enjoy the same activities, have the same friends, watch the same T.V. shows, read the same types of books, frequent the same places, and stay at the same job for somewhat long periods of time. Suggest change or challenge to me, and you will almost certainly get the side eye. But even that has changed in my life. I am not yet standing in the center of the arena, but I sure am exploring and walking around in it.
Being in the arena is scary. Uncomfortable. Revealing. And vulnerable. But once you allow yourself to be in and stay in it, regardless of how terrified and scrutinized you are, you will realize that you are finally daring to live life greatly.
These days, the way in which I am most standing in the arena is by doing live broadcasts on Periscope (you can follow me there @SheisTerriL). Every time I do a broadcast, I am nauseated with fear so, according to my trusted life coach Brene, I must be showing up. It is terrifying to know that when I hit that Begin Broadcast button, people all over the world have the ability to watch me look into a camera, deliver my message, and rip me to shreds should they be so inclined. It can be total open season. Imagine sitting in your home and having a primarily one-sided conversation with the world while at any given moment someone can hop on and type in the comments box, “When did you transition (as in your gender)?”
“Do you wish that you were pretty?”
Tell you that your hair is a “nice hat.”
Or ask you if you are a “lad” when clearly you are a woman.
The madness can go on and on. None of this has happened to me yet, but I’ve seen it on others’ scopes, so my day will come I’m sure. It happens to everyone who scopes–everyone who dares to enter the arena.
So you may wonder why I would put myself out there like that. Well because it is the latest and greatest platform for online marketing. I am a creative who is constantly seeking ways to share my content, find and build my tribe, and expand my freelance work base, so it makes sense that I utilize this wonderful platform despite the coo-coo birds. I am not perfect at it, but I am doing okay. I’m four broadcasts in and with each one, my aim is to become as confident and fluid in the delivery of my message on camera as I am on a laptop keyboard.
No more do I have the camera facing trees when it should be facing me as I did on my first scope. Nor am I speaking through chattering teething while wearing a jeans jacket in the dead of winter because I was inspired to do an outdoor scope about fitness. Nor am I staring downward into the camera in a dimly lit room while waxing poetic about one of my blog posts as I did on another scope. I am being brave and leaving perfectionism at the arena’s doorstep, while running in not knowing who is in there or what awaits me. And despite my newbie disasters, I am staying committed to my purpose of sharing my content and forming connections with people by leaving every broadcast up (mistakes, embarrassing moments, and all) for the 24-hour replay period on both Periscope and my Twitter accounts for all the world to see.
And when the voices of criticism rally and begin to take up residence in my head, I remember what Brene warns about them. They will demand to know who do I think I am. They will ask why am I even trying to do what I am doing. They will highlight what was wrong about the delivery of the broadcast instead of focusing on all that was right about the message. And when those voices become too loud, and I begin to lace up my sneakers to haul ass out of the arena, I call on my soldiers courage, empathy, and vulnerability to stomp them out.
We go to war with the vociferous voices.
And every time I show up again and hit that Begin Broadcast button, we win.
If every day of your life is predictable, comfortable, or safe, you are not in the arena. And perhaps now may not be the time for you to enter. That’s okay. But know that its doors are always open–inviting us in to live richer, fuller, and more courageous lives. We can either be passive bystanders as we watch others enter and emerge better than when they went in. Or, we, too, can get in there, show our face, sometimes even be trampled upon, yet discover for ourselves what it truly means to dare to live life in the arena. And once in, we may never leave.