I’ve always been a hard worker so in most ways the crazy schedule that comes with the hustle of being an entrepreneur is something I was groomed for from the start. I guess that’s what comes with the territory when you grow up on a farm and your childhood chores involve mowing a lawn that is sized by acres not feet, cleaning barns (yes, plural), and canning more food than a family of five could possibly eat in a year. But creating Farmgirl in some ways was also like stepping onto a stage, and one that I felt unprepared to be on. Every move, every decision, every hesitation or headlong rush into a new strategy seems to elicit, at best, advice on how I could do it better or differently next time and, at worst, biting criticism about my decision making skills, my capabilities and, even worse (and completely unrelated to my ability to bootstrap Farmgirl), my appearance.
At first (and then for far too long) I let these sentiments work their way into my own thought process. When it came to making all the tough choices involved in running a company, in addition to my own inner critic I found myself struggling with the doubtful voices of so many others that I had internalized along the way. It was noisy, negative, and always counterproductive. And then, thanks to Brené Brown, I found the “Man in the Arena” speech (and this specific quote) by Theodore Roosevelt, and it changed everything for me.
I come back to this quote every time I start to hear those voices again, which is often. There are a million sources of doubt that I navigate daily. Roosevelt’s words, and Brené’s interpretation of them in Daring Greatly, help to remind me that as long as I’m in the “arena” doing the hard work, none of them matter.
I know I’m not the only one with a critic (or, if you’re like me, critics) so I wanted to find a way to share the words that have helped me continue to drive forward even when I’ve had a million voices around me telling me to turn back. Hang this poster on your wall in a space where it can remind you daily that your voice, and your hard work, is the only one that counts. And because men aren’t the only ones with a grind, I made a few edits to pronouns. So now, women have a place at the table and in the arena.
Materials: “Woman in the Arena” poster is designed by Farmgirl Flowers and printed in California
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