In the arena

10th Jul 2023


I was sent a two minute clip of Barack Obama extolling the virtues of people who get things done – those who deliver outcomes.

He expressed his views by saying whatever the organisation someone is working in; those who get things done will always be noticed. It reminds me of my time in Whitehall where delivery mattered and certain figures like Louise Casey made their name because they knew how to deliver a policy.

And to keep the US political balance and theme, a Republican President also held a similar view. In what is now known as “the man in the arena” speech, Teddy Roosevelt heaped praise not on the critics or commentators, but on those who are in the arena, “marred by dust and sweat and blood.”

In our industry, let’s read that as a comparison between those who constantly snipe about why hydrogen won’t work for heating; those who claim to know better against those who are actually at the sharp-end, making a reality of it.

And while those who dare might not always get things right, in the words of Teddy Roosevelt, “there is no effort without error and shortcoming”. So when the Hydrogen Village trials attract unwarranted criticism, any blame should not lie with those tasked to deliver. The lessons learned from such activity will help steer the course towards achieving the desired, final outcome. If a trial fails because people don’t want change then policy makers need to take heed and offer up policies that minimise change expected from households.

Now those words from Roosevelt are pinned on boards across the globe; they are a key motivator for sports teams as well as management consultants. I do not claim to be an authority on him, but I am pretty sure those of us wanting to make a difference in the energy world could do a great deal worse than channelling our inner-Teddy R and be proud to “be in the arena”.

Mike Foster

EUA's Chief Executive


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