Still in the arena

I was recently re-elected to be Chair of the Attempt Survivor and Lived Experience Division for AAS. It was a challenging election cycle that required a second, run-off vote.

In the candidate statements, my challenger included pointed critiques of my performance as Chair. This brought to mind the quote from President Roosevelt:

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.

I admit that I’m human and have faults. I have failed in numerous ways. Yet, I have strived to do the best job that I could, often under difficult circumstances that will never be known outside of the inner circle of the Board of Directors. We are bound by confidentiality and ethics not to disclose such things.

Still, to be honest, it hurt to read those criticisms included in a candidate statement from a peer who I’ve supported and defended on multiple occasions.

However, I have to thank my challenger. Not only did she point out some things for me to work on improving to keep the division moving forward, but more immediately she was the goad that inspired me to produce a solid video for the election that I’ve since re-edited to use elsewhere. I enjoyed making the video and it forced me to actually spend time looking at my accomplishments instead of just focusing on my errors. It became something both therapeutic and useful.

So I guess the lesson I would pass on to others is to not let criticism drag you down. Use it to stir up your passions, to ignite your fire, and to inspire you to accomplish more.