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Are You in the Arena?

We are having a sports filled fall. With two daughters in high school playing two different fall sports, volleyball and soccer, we are always at a game. You know how these things go: we're all excited to watch our kids play; we get caught up in the rush of good plays and bad; before you know it, a parent or two is over excited, maybe yelling at their kid, the coach or maybe even an official... we're not at our best.


I recently came across this quote while I was reading Dare to Lead by Brene Brown - one I have read before, but it really resonated with me right now:

Both of my kids play for teams that don't win very often. They work hard, they love to play, but they often come out on the low end of the scoreboard. I know it's frustrating for them. This quote reminds me of how important it is for them to play anyway. How much they learn by putting it all out there, working hard, practicing key skills. And when it does pay off... oh what joy for a powerful hit or an Ace on a serve or when you make the perfect pass or get the goal.


It also reminds me that, as parents, we're not the ones "in the arena" at those games and we would better serve our kids by cheering them on and learning to keep our mouths shut when they falter or an official makes a bad call.


We ask our kids to be "in the arena" every day: studying in school, passing a test, working through challenges with friends, joining a club or group, playing a sport.


So I ask myself, "Am I really in the arena?" I try to be. I work hard at everything I do - always have. It's just in my nature. But there are things that I avoid or hesitate to do because I'm not good at it, like asking for help with things around the house, making that next networking connection or presenting to a new group.


This week, when I've hesitated to do something I know would ultimately be good for me, I've reflected on the part of this quote that says, "...because there is no effort without error and shortcoming ... 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..."


What gets in my way most often is that fear of failure. I like to do the things I know I can do, the things I'm good at, but that can get in the way of learning to do something new and achieving my definition of success. So I'm pushing myself outside my comfort zone a little more often. Challenging myself to do those things that are a bit harder. I know I'll stumble and at times I'll fail. That's okay because, succeed or fail, I've decided to be in the arena.