Feb 082012

forget the critics

Forget The Critics.  Thank Teddy Roosevelt.

I learned to forget the critics a long time ago.  It seems that no matter what you are trying to accomplish, there’s always someone, or a group of people, who wants to criticize you and your efforts.  Fortunately, early in my life, I read the (voluminous) Teddy Roosevelt biography by Edmund Morris, which led me to my favorite quote of all time:

“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.”

Powerful stuff.  Obviously, this quote is from a different era, so “she” can be substituted for “he” in this wording.  This mindset applies to all people, regardless of gender, race, age, etc.

The perspective of this quote resonates with me on many levels.

First, it’s inevitable that you will stumble if you are going to try to accomplish anything meaningful.  You need to become comfortable with the stumbles, even embrace them, as they are the milestones on the path to achieving your goals.

Second, while your face may not actually be “marred by dust and sweat and blood,” you will take some hits.  Depending what your goals are, the hits may not be physical.  Rather, they may be blows to your ego and your confidence.  You cannot be deterred.  You must access your considerable will to succeed, and then press on.

Third, if what you’re trying to do is for a “worthy cause,” not necessarily non-profit, but “worthy” still, you are more likely to be able to access even more perseverance and drive.  As the saying goes, you need to have a “big enough why”.  I see people give up all the time, and usually when this happens it’s because they did not have a big enough reason to motivate them to carry on.  Don’t be a dabbler.  Engage in activities in which you are not just interested, but to which you are also committed.

Finally, and perhaps most powerfully, if you don’t let the critics get you down and even keep you from pursuing your goals and dreams, you’ll never have to count yourself among “those cold and timid souls who knew neither victory nor defeat”.  Find the courage to pursue your goals, regardless of the resistance you may receive, and you will never have to look back and say “what if”.  From my perspective, having to do so may be the biggest failure one could ever face.

I look forward to your thoughts and questions.  Please leave a comment (“response”) below or in the upper right corner of this post.

Paul Morin



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  • Dawn

    Love this post! It is a great quote and very true. I could feel the encouragement while I read and found some helpful reminders along the way. Thanks

  • And to know your first-born son was named after this great man! 🙂
    He’s on his way to become a great leader and role model, too.
    Awesome blog post by a great husband about a great leader.


  • Paul Brinkman

    Timely, timeless! Never tire of this quote from the mythic Teddy Roosevelt. “Don’t be a dabbler!” Thank you, Paul.

  • Happy you enjoyed it, Dawn. Ignore the critics.

  • Thanks. 🙂

  • Couldn’t agree with you more, Paul. This quote is timeless.

  • Paul, this is also one of my favorite quotes of all time, from quite possibly my favorite American leader of all time! Oh, to have TR alive and in the public arena today.

    Your point about the power of having a “big enough why,” and on the turbo charge of inspiration a worthy cause can give us, is a powerful take-away. I’m going to chew on that for the rest of the week.

    Thank you for making me think!

  • Thanks, Ted. Sounds like we’re very much on the same page regarding Teddy Roosevelt! As far as I can tell, his equal is not likely to be seen anytime soon, if ever again.

    The points about having a “big enough why” and a worth cause are important ones. I hope some great initiatives and results spring from your focus on those topics!

  • knikkolette

    Hi Paul! I always love your posts… this one is no exception. Great advice as always, it’s hard to stay positive and focused if or when you hear negativity around you. It’s also hard to get back on track if you’ve allowed someone’s remarks to affect you. These tips should be able to help a lot of people! Thanks again.

  • Thanks, Knikkolette. Agreed – negativity can cause a lot of harm! But only if you let it. Forget the critics. Plow ahead. Make your mark!

  • Nicholle Olores

    I agree with you Paul, wherever you go and whatever you do there are persons who use to criticize you even though you are doing good or bad. I appreciate you for ignoring such critics in life and always keep in doing good. Thanks, your such an inspiration for me.

  • Cley

    Very encouraging post! I totally agree with this.. If there is critics, it means that your good. 🙂 Thanks for sharing this. Good job!

  • What a powerful quote! We can never please everybody so critics will always be there whether we win or lose. There will always be people who would want to put us down. So yeah, let’s forget about them and focus on our own journey in life. It’s not the destination but the experiences we take that makes the journey worthwhile. 🙂

  • Leanne

    Hi Paul,
    What a lovely quotes, ignore critics and continue creating for the greatness… You are really brilliant, love to read it lovely…

  • Thanks, Leanne. Happy you enjoyed it. Paul

  • Hi, Nicholle. I’m happy that you found this post inspirational! Take what you can learn from critics (sometimes they have valid input), then move on. Paul

  • cathrin

    Sometimes critics helps us to bring some good output. I always appreciate critics for my blog. But we should appreciate people for there good work.