Far better it is to dare mighty things, to win glorious triumphs, even
though checkered by failure, than to rank with those poor spirits who
neither enjoy much nor suffer much, because they live in that grey
twilight that knows neither victory nor defeat."
I was searching for that quotation that I'd heard somewhere, and learned
that Theodore Roosevelt had said a great number of
other stirring things on a similar theme:
Get action. Seize the moment. Man was never intended to become an
If we stand idly by, if we seek merely swollen, slothful ease and ignoble
peace, if we shrink from the hard contests where men must win at hazard of
their lives and at the risk of all they hold dear, then the bolder and
stronger peoples will pass us by, and will win for themselves the
domination of the world.
The man who really counts in the world is the doer, not the mere
critic-the man who actually does the work, even if roughly and
imperfectly, not the man who only talks or writes about how it ought to be
It is only through labor and painful effort, by grim energy and resolute
courage, that we move on to better things.
Apart from their content and his status as one of the more awesome
presidents (and originator of the phrase "speak softly and carry a big
stick"), these carry weight for me particularly because of another famous
speech of his I found, which starts like this:
Friends, I shall ask you to be as quiet as possible. I don't know whether
you fully understand that I have just been shot; but it takes more than
that to kill a Bull Moose.... First of all, I want to say
this about myself: I have altogether too important things to think of to
feel any concern over my own death; and now I cannot speak to you
insincerely within five minutes of being shot. I am telling you the
literal truth when I say that my concern is for many other things.
And he went on for an hour and a half! They couldn't drag him off! And, with a hunk of lead in him, he said more sensible and articulate things than George W has said in his whole time in office! Now that is an hombre - and worth listening to on the subject of self discipline.