in Creativity, Motivation, Music, Philosophy, Psychology, Science

Get In The Arena

“Mixed feelings, like mixed drinks, are a confusion to the soul.” – George Carman

Have you ever felt like a ping pong ball? A lot of going back and forth but no real progress?

I’d like to share an excerpt from a speech given by Theodore Roosevelt in 1910.

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.


Um, Is someone seriously throwing a Hadouken to the back of Teddy’s head?

Usually when I work with people I find that they belong to certain categories.

1. People who are motivated by the possibility of success. By far the easiest people to work with. Usually they just need the tools and they hit the ground running.

2. People who are motivated by the fear of not succeeding. These people are hard workers but generally lack direction.

3. People who are afraid of failure. They want to create things, and do, but are afraid of showing it to the world. They fear that people won’t like their work (and by association not like them). They think they ARE their art.

4. People who are afraid of success. These people are afraid of the results and/or responsibilities of succeeding. In most cases not feeling worthy of success or having a case of impostor syndrome.

Then there are the really hard nuts to crack.

Hammer vs. Coconut

If all you have is a hammer everything looks like a coconut.

I had a preconceived notion of what drove a person to stop short of stepping into the arena. I suggested we try a visualization exercise.

I asked her to get a picture in her mind of what she wanted most out of life. The first try seemed to not be the “right” picture so we tried again.

This time it felt like the right picture. I asked her to make it more colorful. Brighter. Bigger. Even more colorful. Even brighter. Even bigger.

Now, I admit that going in I thought that there was some kind of pain related to her not being able to go for what she wanted.

There wasn’t.

What it was, was a sense of uncomfort, hesitation and slight fear. Not exactly what I thought. My diagnosis was “Fear of success”. It was based on the fact that she was usually holding back her art in the “safe zone”.

So I decided to try another approach.

Now I asked her to imagine the picture. This time I asked her to make it less colorful. Dimmer. Smaller. And… The tears started coming.

It didn’t take more for her to get in touch with the pain. The pain of seeing what she wanted most of all slowly fading away.

Damn, this is hard. She really wants it. But at the same time it’s too much. Let’s explore.

Curiosity Rover

We’ve just received a message from the Curiosty rover, it says: “Dafuq is wrong wit u?”. Dude! Totes harsh! Being on Mars has made you totes judgemental…

Do you find yourself pacing back and forth between the arena and the parking lot?

The arena seems daunting. There’s a huge crowd and not everyone makes it in there. Major uncertainty.

Then again, the parking lot. Um, yeah the “coulda, woulda, shoulda”-crowd. There’s some comfort but you’re still drawn to the arena.

There’s one of four things you can do.

1. Keep pacing until the guards kick your ass out for loitering. Then you’ve got a valid complaint: “I was just about to make my mind up and the kicked me out here, guess it’s the parking lot for me!”. Yeah, that whole victim-shtick.

Dawson Crying

There, there… Sch-sch-sch… Stop crying… Or i’ll punch you in the anus again.

2. Give up and join the parking lot party! Atleast you’ve made a fucking decision, now let’s get wasted and drown the pain! Wohoo!

Heavy Metal Parking Lot

I’ll grant you that there was ONE day when being on the parking lot was more entertaining than being in the arena.

3. Take a long hard look at the parking lot. Imagine your future there. If imagining that makes you mad as hell, well, turn yourself around and run into the arena screaming “Fffffffuuuuuuuu..!”.


Yup. This guy gets stuff done.

4. Look at the faces of the people you admire that’ve spent their lives in the arena. Are you getting a feeling in your gut? Is the thought of getting in there making you feel excited? Good. Take one step in that direction. Now another. More assertive. Go a little faster. That’s right. Pick up the pace. Now run! RUN! THIS IS SPARTAAA!

300 - Sparta

This is… old… So very, very, old…

I hope, I hope, I hope that you’re in the arena now. Whether you think that you’re not worthy of being there. Have a fear being there. If you’re there because you’re more afraid of what happens if you aren’t. I doesn’t matter. All that matters right now is that you’re in there with the rest of us.

I don’t know if the metaphor is appropriate. It gives the feeling of being a matter of life and death. The feeling of it being a fight.

Then again. Nothing could be more appropriate.

When we just feel blasé and uncomfortable we tend not to worry about it.

It’s when the reality of suffering hits us that we get to a point when we say: “Enough!”.

One of the things that separates us from animals is our ability to imagine the future. We can imagine a future where we’re prosperous and successful. We can also imagine a future of pain. Whatever the force that helps propel us forward we must use it.

If we then can take the time to look at these forces we will find that one comes a place of lack and fear. That’s why I still urge you to use the positive force of a brighter tomorrow. The reason? It comes from a place of abundance and love. It’s self-generating.

I want you to leave you with this: Vulnerability isn’t always met with love, but without vulnerability love cannot exist.

Herding the quotes!

“You cannot make yourself feel something you do not feel, but you can make yourself do right in spite of your feelings.” – Pearl S. Buck

“One must marry one’s feelings to one’s beliefs and ideas. That is probably the only way to achieve a measure of harmony in one’s life.” – Napoleon Hill

“There’s just some magic in truth and honesty and openness.” – Frank Ocean

“When something is bothering me, I write a song that tells my feelings.” – Loretta Lynn

“I feel like my secret magic trick that separates me from a lot of my peers is the bravery to be vulnerable and truthful and honest.” – Katy Perry

“My music is about being strong, even in your vulnerability.” – Miranda Lambert

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