[Quote] It is not the critic who counts

Why are you or your friends battling to bring passion projects to life? Because they must. It can be brutal. But remember it's worth it. And support those who take up that fight!

[Quote] It is not the critic who counts

"It is not the critic who counts:

not the [person] who points out how the strong [one] stumbles or where the doer of deeds could have done better.

The credit belongs to the [person] 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 [spend themselves] in a worthy cause;

who, at the best, knows, in the end, the triumph of high achievement, and who, at the worst, if [they fail],
at least ... fails while daring greatly, so that [their] place shall never be with those cold and timid souls
who knew neither victory nor defeat."

– Theodore Roosevelt in Speech at the Sorbonne (1910)

The quote

Roosevelt's speech "Citizenship in a Republic" was part of a trip around Central and Northern Europe that helped to re-invigorate Roosevelt's perception at home.

He gave the speech in Paris's Sorbonne university.

I am no historian. But from what I understand, the speech resulted partly from Roosevelt's personal reflections and partly in response to domestic U.S. politics.

Since then, many famous and not-so-famous people have found meaning in this excerpt from the speech. But it's still worthwhile, even if folks like Nelson Mandela, Brené Brown, LeBron James, Barack Obama, and generations of U.S. Naval Academy plebes have used it before.

Why it matters to innovators

I have found over and over that people consider innovation to be "fun," "creative," and otherwise "easy."

I suppose that's true to a degree. But real–credible–innovation work, the effort to create something new with meaning is brutally hard.

Innovation is only 1% inspiration and 99% perspiration.

Ideas are actually the easy part, even good ones already take effort to come by. Execution is a heck of a lot harder!

Go do!

This leads to several must-do actions that we forget to our peril:

  • Innovation and startup leaders: Your team needs much, MUCH more encouragement and motivation than is almost possible to imagine. The work is daunting. It beats down even the most competent professionals. Help to pick them up. Help them fight another day!
  • Business partners of innovation teams: Look beyond the shiny parts of innovation to its brutally-hard underlying work. Don't fawn. Don't erase your own effort. You do hard jobs too. But in quiet and honest ways, appreciate progress achieved, independent of the long road that is likely still ahead.
  • Friends and family of "people in the arena:" Be there for them. Support them. Also remind them of all that exists beyond their fight. If they fight for the right reasons (i.e., a cause beyond themselves), then it's all for you and others. That means that you and others matter more than they or their own effort. You matter. Remind them to come up for air and remember you, not just the tactical struggles they currently face.

Further reading

Full speech at the Sorbonne from Apr. 23, 19010. Teddy Roosevelt Center

Quote and context at Teddy Roosevelt Conservation Partnership

Wikipedia article about the speech