Sometimes I read the things Theodore yelled at people and think, “I wish I had the guts to say that!” I may never get used to the kind of confidence he had in himself and his beliefs. The sort of conviction that moves him to say what ought to be said in the moment, free of worry about what someone may think or ad hominems in spite. While Roosevelt was an excellent writer and speaker, in the quote below, he gets the point across without the sense of preparation. It flows from him…no, it shoots from him like a shotgun! In order to hit the target with any force he spreads a volley of bullets in its direction.
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Though I don’t know the full details of the situation, he is speaking to one of his fellow Rough Riders. Theodore is president, though only recently and gives this former charger of San Juan Hill a good dose of admonishment and encouragement.
“Get action! Do things; be sane; don’t fritter away your time; create, act, take a place wherever you are and be somebody; get action!” – Theodore Roosevelt, U.S. President
A Lesson in Admonishment
In order to get the gravity of the situation, take a moment to envision what is happening. Roosevelt isn’t talking to some punk kid or a nephew that has potential but just won’t get his act together. No, he is talking to a fellow soldier. Has this man killed other men? There’s a good chance. I think it likely he is a fairly tough guy if the Colonel considers him a friend and respects him enough to not count him off. For crying out loud, this guy is in the history books! Yet, Roosevelt is talking to him like a child; as if he just caught him stealing milk off the porch or spends his days lazing around the house and won’t get a job.
What I think is excellent about this is that Roosevelt hits his friend roughly, because his friend is a rough guy! In order to get through our thick skulls we often need to hear the truth in a very direct manner.
I love this! Not, “Stay busy” or “Get to work” or even “Get after it”, but “Get Action!” No excuses. Don’t waste time. Be purposeful. Create something, anything. Be active. Dig your heels in wherever you are and make a difference. Get Action!
So often I find myself waiting for the stars to align before setting to work, whether that is writing, or exercise, or time with my wife, or with my boys, before sending that email or making that phone call. Roosevelt wasn’t this way. He looked for work to do, all the time, and he found it.
I think this quote will make its way into another article at some point because there is so much here. I think often about the men in my life who really called me out. The men that were straight shooters; that simply said what was on their heart. I’m a different man today because of it. I owe it to them to do the same for my friends. If I truly believe that iron sharpens iron, and I do, then I must be iron and experience the uncomfortable process of honing.