The Man in the Arena

Posted by – Steve Cohen, Director of Community Development

I was talking to a close friend this weekend about Auburn Hills’ efforts to lead and make a difference on a number of issues ranging from economic development – to creating an age-friendly community – to preparing for plug-in electric vehicles.

I found myself lamenting a little about how challenging it was for our City to lead as critics love to provide their two cents.   I told my friend about a frustrating article recently written by an out-of-state reporter who implied that Auburn Hills was Anywhere USA and that the Pistons should move away.

The author musingly wrote “driving through Auburn Hills — the scores of hotels, restaurants, and shopping centers brightly lit buoys astride an asphalt sea — it’s hard not to wonder: What exactly compelled William Davidson, late and lauded former owner, to bring the Pistons here? 

Theodore Roosevelt

Theodore Roosevelt

Why are the Pistons in Auburn Hills?  Are you kidding me?  Maybe it’s because our town was, is, and will be a great place to run a business in the future!  I told my friend that there was probably no convincing this author of the benefits of Auburn Hills.  The writer had made up his mind.  Then my friend said, that’s the point Steve.  Huh?

He asked me if I ever read Theodore Roosevelt’s The Man in the Arena.  My friend explained that those who lead and have success will always be criticized.  It’s the human condition.  He told me to look it up … so I did.

Delivered in Paris, France as part of a speech called Citizenship In A Republic  (April 23, 1910).

It reads …

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.

It’s good to have wise friends.