In her 99U talk—Why Your Critics Aren’t the Ones Who Count—Dr. Brené Brown gets personal and shares how she struggled in the wake of her success as she dealt with various, personal attacks wielded by critics in the public arena. Similar to how most of us would respond, Brené was devastated by the undeservedly negative criticism, yet it was precisely at this darkest time when she stumbled upon the following quote that radically changed her thinking and, as a result, changed her life. In her video Brené reveals what she ultimately learned about herself as well as life lessons—guidance that may be of benefit to us all.
THE MAN IN THE ARENA
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.
~Excerpt from the Theodore Roosevelt’s speech “Citizenship in a Republic” delivered at the Sorbonne in Paris, France on April 23, 1910.~
Brené’s Final Thoughts:
- It’s not about winning or losing. It’s about showing up and being seen.
- If you’re going to show up and be seen, you will be criticized. That is the guarantee and the only certainty you have. So, you have to decide at that moment if courage is a value that you hold because criticism is a natural consequence.
- Brene’s philosophy about criticism—To the critics: If you’re not putting yourself on the line and just talking about how I could do it better, I’m in no way interested in your feedback. PERIOD.
It’s so scary to show up, it feels dangerous to be seen. It’s terrifying, but it is not as scary, dangerous, or terrifying as getting to the end of our lives and thinking: What if I would have shown up…What would have been different?