The Man in the Arena
“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
28 Years as a
United States Navy SEAL
Life’s journey is funny at times. I don’t mean the kind of funny that makes you laugh, but the kind of funny that causes you to look deep inside yourself and ask, “How did I ever get through all that?”
I look back at my almost twenty-eight years as a Navy SEAL and wonder about all the challenges I faced.
- I look at persevering in Basic Underwater Demolition/SEAL training, where the attrition rate was close to 80 percent.
- I look at the 180 I made to become the husband and father my wife and daughter deserve.
- I reflect on how I went through multiple neck surgeries that included titanium implants, fusions, missing vertebrae, and a mild stroke that forced an earlier-than-expected retirement.
I see my transition from a high point in life, where I was once on top of the world as an elite warrior, to being a lost, dark soul barely able to pick up thirty pounds without my back going out.
I was fighting to regain a sense of purpose greater than myself. Using the available time to press a four-year doctoral program into three years.
So back to the question: “How did I ever get through all that?”
The answer is found in an internal resolve, strength of will, moral fiber… more commonly known as grit!