Man In The Arena
The first seven words of our mnemonic are, “I am the man in the arena …”
You’ve made the decision to use your everyday life as a training ground, making it your dojo in martial arts terms. Your life is now an adventure, and you are the hero of your own movie. In the past, if someone had filmed you driving to work, the shot would have been from a distance, showing a sea of cars. But now, it would be shot from inside the car with music playing around your actions and expectations.
“I am the man in the arena,” these seven powerful words hold a profound affirmation, emotional invocation, and heroic self-image. If you fully comprehend their power, you will do yourself proud.
In all the gladiator movies and many sports movies, there is a hero, and the mob watching him. But your life is your arena, and it’s up to you to decide whether to watch it or live it. You must accept that your everyday life is your arena and training ground, or you can quit now.
When faced with fear, anxiety, or adversity, do not scream or complain like an audience member. Instead, accept the role of someone who can deal with it. By the seventh step, you will have developed this skill. For now, accept the role by saying, “I am the man in the arena.” In those seven words we have a powerful affirmation, emotional invocation, and heroic self-image. I repeat, if you did nothing else but fully comprehend their power, you would do yourself proud. It will help to read the Theodore Roosevelt’s words.
“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.” – Theodore Roosevelt
The commitment to begin the adventure is the first position. This choice appears in many novels, biographies, and movies, and the most famous is when Morpheus offers Neo the choice of the Red Pill or the Blue Pill in the movie The Matrix.
The Blue Pill meant staying the same, while the Red Pill represented entering the unknown and beginning the adventure for Neo. This was his “I am the man in the arena” moment.
There are Red Pill moments for all of us when we must choose between the mob and the arena. We must choose between reading and imagining or actually stepping through the gate, across the line that divides the heroes from the mob.
But is there really a choice? Like caterpillars, we must climb toward the sun and become something we can’t comprehend at the time.
Theodore Roosevelt was one of us, and his words reflect this: “..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..”
The hero in any movie or myth faces a rough time, but it’s the choice to accept these challenges that makes them a hero. When the mob goes home and gets drunk, those in the arena are still training, and you are doing the same with this system.
Consider this for a moment, and tomorrow we will discuss an exercise to make it real. Your movie is Gladiator. And we will discuss how to use it.