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.
THE MAN IN THE ARENA, Theodore Roosevelt Excerpt from the speech “Citizenship In a Republic, April, 1910
I have been spending the week thinking about how best to remain engaged in the struggle to keep airports, airports. How do we have the courage face the critic with the bullhorn, who points out every single misstep? How do we steel ourselves against the inevitable bully who says, “You can’t do that”? How do we have the resolution to stay motivated and involved in the fight?
After watching psychological researcher Brene Brown’s recent lecture on daring greatly [http://www.oprah.com/oprahs-lifeclass/Oprah-and-Dr-Brene-Brown-on-Vulnerability-and-Daring-Greatly-Video], I found myself reading and re-reading the above quote by Theodore Roosevelt. While arguably the longest sentence I have ever read, the heart of this speech is to try and keep trying. In the face of the critic, the one who points out your shortcomings, who blasts you with disbelief, remain standing.
Those of us who work in airport and aviation advocacy know that we cannot give up and we know we will fall. But as Roosevelt points out the man “who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who a the worst if he fails, at least he fails while daring greatly”.
If daring greatly were a charge, how would you respond? Think about your home airport. If you dared greatly what would you do there? How would you engage a community that is not sure of the airport’s worth? How would you push forward safety enhancements? If you weren’t afraid, what would you do? Think about yourself as an aviation lover. How can you share that passion with another? How can you give of yourself toward a greater good?
I have always taught my children that if you are going down, you should go down swinging. Flight instructors say that to fly that airplane all the way down to the ground. The take away here is Engagement. Action. Perseverance. Roosevelt was talking about being an active citizen. What if we applied active citizenry to aviation? Would we be dusty, tired and bloody souls daring greatly? Or are we the cold, timid souls who know neither victory nor defeat. I choose the former. Want to come with me?