The Man In the Arena

I just returned from the Michigan Intramural and Recreational Sports Association (MIRSA) state workshop.  I took this picture at 6:30am when it was still dark and the campus was quiet.  I was on my way to the morning Boot Camp class and got to try out some Kettlebells and tire flipping. I always enjoy catching up with those people who can relate exactly to the ups and downs of my job. It seems too short and flies by.  I would love to have even more time to spend with colleagues around the state.  I really enjoyed meeting and talking with new acquaintances from the University of Michigan, Michigan State University, Oakland University, and Western Michigan University.  Our hosts at Saginaw Valley State University were very gracious and did a great job.  There is no other professional organization that does a better job at allowing professionals to connect and solve problems like NIRSA and it’s state associations, including MIRSA.

A common topic at our state workshop is leadership.  We are always talking about student development, identifying leadership opportunities, and fostering leadership skills.  This year’s workshop also gave me the opportunity to throw my hat in the ring for an Executive Board position.  There were three others running for the same position, all of which were equally capable as I would be to serve in the role.  I was fortunate enough to get the position and look forward to working to continue to improve our Association over the next two years.

The whole idea of running for this position got me thinking about my stance on leadership.  I was asked to say a few words, which I did.  What I wish I would have referenced and challenged our state association with  is one of my favorite excerpts from a speech given by President Theodore Roosevelt, “Citizenship in a Republic”. I feel like it gets at the heart of what it takes to be a leader.  While there are certainly skills and abilities that are necessary to be a good leader, what it fundamentally requires is that “step” into the ring.  It’s easy for anyone, including myself, to sit back and criticize how things are being done – or what we could do better.  Leaders are those that decide to step up and try to address them.  If you feel that you are finding yourself criticizing the way something is being done or organized, then I challenge you to step into the arena.

Here is the excerpt from Roosevelt’s speech I referred to, famously known as “The Man in the Arena”.  Read it over and give some thought to it.  Is there an arena that you should be stepping into?

“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 not effort without error and shortcoming; but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasm, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who is at the best knows in the end the triumph of the 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 or defeat.”

4 thoughts

  1. I knew I should have participated in the morning workout! I decided to do a mini-circuit at the hotel gym..will have to come next time! Congrats on your new position; I feel you fit the bill perfectly, espcially for upcoming professionals like myself. I look forward to hearing more from you!

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