One of this country's more colorful figures, Teddy Roosevelt, summed up the difference between a talker and a doer very well. In a speech in France in April of 1910, he said,
"It is not the critic who counts; not the man who points out how the strong man stumbled 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 by dust and sweat and blood; who strives valiantly; who errs and comes short again and again; who knows the great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who, at the best, knows in the end the triumph of high achievements, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place will never be with those timid souls who know neither victory or defeat. "
Today, our culture tends to listen more intently to the critic, the person who says something or someone else is wrong and flawed. We delight in stories about people failing and falling from great heights. While we have a celebrity-worshipping mindset, we can't wait for that celebrity to stumble.
I could argue that the critic versus doer is as good a description as any of the fight each of us has in crafting a satisfying retirement journey. Our internal critic says we should do something, or we can't do something else. We build our own box around our dreams, looking for reasons to not move forward. A spouse, partner, or friend may say something that makes us doubt our ability to accomplish what we dream of. Even louder, is the voice in our head that says, "No, don't risk it."
I will have a post soon about how our fear of being less than perfect at something keeps us on the sidelines. Teddy's quote says the same thing, but with more flair and power.
This is a short post, but one I hope will cause you (and me) to stop and think for just a moment. Do we play the critic with ourselves and others, or are we a doer, or supporter of one? Does a friend want our unqualified backing, or our unending cautions? Which would we want?
Pick carefully. Your choice has amazing power.