It’s not the critic who counts

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, great devotions, who spends himself in a worthy cause, who at the best knows at 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.

Theodore Roosevelt, US President and not, if I’m honest, someone I’d have chosen to hang out with. But what an encouragement to any decent person – as most people are – to aim to do the right thing – as most people do – without getting chilled by the fear of setback, of failure, of what might happen.

There is hope in honest error, none in the icy perfections of the mere stylist. 

JD Sedding, church architect and an influential figure in the Arts and Crafts movement in the 19th Century. I don’t know anything about his work, but they are inspirational words.

Better the occasional fault of a government that lives in a spirit of charity, than the consistent omissions of a government frozen in the ice of its own indifference.

That’s the other Roosevelt – Franklin Delano, a higher-achieving President and more my kind of hero.

The common theme? Fault. Error (commission or omission). Failure. Better a wrong note sung confidently than a correct note sung with no passion. And so on.

If you can manage one more American, try Henry Ford:

Whether you think you can or you think you can’t, you’re right.

Yep, that’s my life.


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