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In the Arena

For those of you who have any knowledge of Brene Brown, the phrase of being “in the arena” will be familiar. This is a concept that she talks about which originated from a famous speech by Theodore Roosevelt. If you haven’t heard about this, check it out here.

Follow Your Heart

As an avid Brene Brown reader, this concept of being “in the arena” is something she refers to on several occasions. This concept has been formative in my leadership journey because on many occasions I felt like the man in the arena, face covered in “dust and sweat and blood.” I have erred, but always got up. Got up to lead my team, got up to relentlessly pursue the mission. So it is fitting, that as I transition my career I go back to the words of Brown and Roosevelt. I leapt into a new career with a vision of how it was going to work. Then as I was navigating this terrain, I found my original path was not what I expected. So I follow my heart again, thinking this time I think I have found the right path. Still, I didn’t feel in alignment with my heart’s desire.

Sometimes You Need to Pivot

As a high-performing achiever, having to pivot once seemed like a scar on my career, but a second seems unbearable. After going through a huge emotional transition, I came back to the wisdom that led me here in the first place. I looked back at my life, at what I have naturally been drawn to not because it would be the most prestigious but because it filled me with joy and light. Amazingly, this path seemed most exciting and most terrifying because, what if I failed at my passion? What if I pursued the purpose I think I have been put on this earth to do and get ridiculed? What if I had to pivot again?

Do It Even If You Are Afraid

Then I remember the story of The Man in the Arena and remind myself that I have been in the arena for most of my career, even if didn’t have this analogy until recently. Although this time, the stakes felt greater, so did my burning desire to help people in this specific way. Doubt and fear aside, I embrace that which I believe is meant to be my life’s work. Without assurance, but with deep passion. Now, I step back into the arena, because “there is no effort without error and short comings, but who does actually strive to do the deeds; who knows great enthusiasm, 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.” (Theodore Roosevelt)


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