"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
Long before I started AOG, I read this quote hanging on the wall in a small office, in a non-descript building on Hunter Army Airfield near Savannah, GA. It was in a simple frame and stamped with a unit crest that signified that it had been presented by those who truly understood what it meant to be in the arena. It stopped me in my tracks the first time I read it. The context at the time was that I was in my first arena, learning the great enthusiasms, about victory and how to dare greatly. I wasn't alone. I was surrounded by others also in the arena, like minded volunteers for the extreme. Brothers who helped define it and share it. They were, as we were reminded daily, "Modern Day Spartans".
We knew that we were doing the unspoken deeds that most would never know or care about, and that quiet knowledge was the glue that bonded us. The coolest thing was the recognition that we were all dedicated to the cause, the mission and pushing the limits. There was no chance of finding a cold or timid soul in that company. We were, united, of our own accord.
Years later, I find myself in another, different arena. Full of stress, chaos and disunity of thought and action. When I look around, I sometimes barely recognize my environment or the people in it. There are those who know neither victory nor defeat, nor ever will. Those who work in ways that are unfamiliar, ways that are learned from years of modest enthusiasm, selfish devotions or just simply untrue causes. Those who seek to divide, maintain the status quo and advance themselves by a willingness to endure a soul crushing existence of middle of the road word and deed. They promulgate a negative bandwidth of communication and endeavors aimed at anything but actual success, victory or the team life.
It is in these times when I must retreat from this arena. To seek the solace in the familiar feel of the wilderness, of a ruck, wet feet and a time hack. To move fast, light and far. To rage against the normal limits that exist somewhere between victory and defeat. To feel pain, discomfort and to remember the truth that it makes me stronger. To seek the undiscovered parts of my soul in this world as I find new ways to test myself, lead others and exceed the standard. To find familiar bonds of brotherhood, new missions and to keep faith with the accord of warriors that are entering their first arena.
These are the times that you must focus on keeping the fire of your soul stoked. Question the status quo. Liberate yourself from the oppression of predefined boundaries. Go beyond normal limits.
Are you in the arena?
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Adventure Operations Group (AOG) is a veteran owned company dedicated to the pursuit of adventurer. AOG's Training Programs and Adventures will take you "Beyond Normal Limits". AOG leads epic adventures, instructional programs, leadership training and assessments for individuals and organizations. Our programs are unique and emphasize mental focus, individual skills, leadership and personal achievement. We specialize in Human Performance Training. Working with AOG is the best way to achieve "next level" results for your corporate group or to enhance your personal capabilities. Contact AOG today to learn how we can get you or your team "Beyond Normal Limits".