Machen MacDonald: Clouds in the arena |

Machen MacDonald: Clouds in the arena

Machen MacDonald
Pro Brilliance

In part of his speech, Citizenship in a Republic, given in Paris France, President Theodore Roosevelt spoke:

"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 was 17 when I first read those words which were hanging in a picture frame in my best friend's father's home office. I had immense respect for this man who I was blessed to have as a mentor during my high school and college years.

At a fairly early age, I had learned to manage myself in relation to the naysayers, the cynics, and critics. Having started three different companies by age 25 I had to overcome and work beyond many people telling me what I couldn't do. What I had not learned to manage so well was the inner critic that resides in me. The voice that speaks up to remind me of my not being enough or I should have done it different or better. For me, the voice can be crippling, keeping me from going into the arena. I have found in my years of coaching and consulting that everybody has a critical voice.

I have found in my years of coaching and consulting that everybody has a critical voice. We are our own worst critics.

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We are our own worst critics. For me, I struggle with comparing everyone else's highlight real with what's ended up on my cutting room floor. Another way I come up against it is I imagine, in full Technicolor and Dolby surround sound, myself failing. I obviously have failed at many things throughout my life as many people do. For me the actual failure is never as catastrophic as what my mind created before I endeavored.

I am learning to not trust my mind. It's not easy as I've invested many years formulating my thoughts, ideas and beliefs. Let me explain it this way. I use my mind and by staying curious and do my best to not necessarily believe my mind to always be right. I have named my inner critic "Cloud." I'll tell you why.

Have you ever watched the clouds as they come into form, change form, and eventually vanish? If my focus is to enjoy the sunshine I need to remember the sun is always shining. From time to time the clouds may roll in. To me, the critical voice and messages in my mind are like clouds passing by. If I just realize they come and go and not become attached to them, I can enjoy the sunshine. The same is pretty much true with the critical voice and messages.

Notice the clouds and let them pass.

The forecast this week is sunny with a chance of partial cloudiness. Enjoy the sunshine while you are in the arena.

Make it up, make it fun, and get it done!

#1 bestselling author Machen P. MacDonald, CPCC, CCSC is a certified life and business coach with ProBrilliance Leadership Institute in Grass Valley, CA. He helps business people gain more confidence and clarity to live their ideal life. He can be reached at and 530-273-8000

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