I have a post-it note above my desk with this reminder on it:
“At the end of the day and at the end of my life, I want to know that I contributed more than I criticized.”
It’s a touchstone for me when I’m feeling vulnerable about sharing my work in a world where it’s easy to attack and ridicule. It’s also helpful when I find myself using perfection, sarcasm, and criticism to protect myself or to discharge my own discomfort.
I also turn to this quote from Theodore Roosevelt’s speech Citizenship In A Republic, delivered at the Sorbonne (1910):
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.”
I’m constantly reminding myself that I can’t wait until I’m perfect or bulletproof to walk into the arena because that’s never going to happen. We just have show up and let ourselves be seen – that’s my definition of “daring greatly.”