This is my final column in Audiology Today as president of the Academy. As I write this last entry, I’ve spent the morning watching Brené Brown on Netflix, reflecting on the past year. Brené speaks about leadership and how this quote from Teddy Roosevelt forever changed her.  

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.

As we begin a new year with the Academy, Brené’s description of vulnerability and courage have helped me place some things into perspective. I hope as we begin with new leadership, they help you focus as well. 

Brené describes vulnerability as the most accurate way to courage. She further describes Roosevelt’s arena by stating if you’re going to join me in the arena, you will see a unique perspective of other leaders, but if you’re not in the arena being brave on occasion with me, I am not interested in your feedback about my work. 

She also further states that there are millions of cheap seats in the arena these days full of people who will never once step into the arena. People who make it a full-time job to hurl criticism, judgment, and really hurtful things to those in the arena. Brené states that we must get out of the habit of catching that criticism. She concludes by stating that you cannot take this type of criticism to heart from people who are not being brave with their own lives.

These are very bold and powerful words for the world in general, but I feel they are even more powerful for volunteer leadership. Our Academy leaders are audiologists, mothers, fathers, daughters, sons, friends, and everything in between. We all have professional and personal lives that are juggled on a daily basis because we feel strongly about serving the Academy. I encourage you all to jump in the arena with us, at least occasionally, to gain that perspective.  

Thank you all for an amazing year!