In the age of the empowered keyboard warrior, many are crippled by the fear of losing. People have become so desperately afraid of failing that they avoid any kind of competition that would place them at risk of losing.
More and more people, especially the youth, are content to “play it cool” and avoid the big challenges for fear of losing face. They are afraid of the criticism, the jeers and sneers of people who merely “talk the talk” and do not “walk the walk”.
This, of course, is the completely wrong mindset.
The correct mindset is to ignore the critics and face your fears. Winning and losing is secondary to the primary objective of competing. For a better understanding of what we are talking about, check out the below speech from Theodore Roosevelt. Roosevelt discusses this phenomenon, persuading others to ignore the critics and take a risk. He also explains how glory and honor are only achieved by those who are willing to fight for what they believe in.
“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.”
We face these challenges in tournaments, in training, and even in our daily lives. When it is competition season, many of us shy away from the challenge, afraid that we might bring shame to the team if we end up doing poorly. During training, we may avoid certain people during sparring because we don’t want to lose and become “that person who got his butt kicked”. Instead of pursuing your dream of becoming an entrepreneur, you continue to slave away at the 9-5 desk job you hate so much – just because someone told you that there was a chance you could lose all your money.
Often times, people are too quick to judge and point out mistakes. But in reality, it is these same people who would not ever risk facing the same kind of judgement. They lack courage and refuse to ever be “the man in the arena”. We should never be afraid to take risks. There is always a chance that we might end up succeeding. And if we do fail, we learn from our mistakes and move on. Ultimately, this is what will make us stronger and greater than those who refused to take a chance.