What's in a name? Part One: "The Critic"

When I became a father, I learned the importance of not just teaching my sons how to live but also showing them. A father walking through the forest once said to his son, “Be careful where you walk”. The son replied, “You be careful, I follow in your footsteps”. Knowing the importance of this, I wanted to be an example for my sons and share the lessons I have learned that allowed me to succeed in challenging times. I thought what a better way to do this than to start my own business doing what I love - watchmaking. After all, it is in an industry rich in heritage and traditions that would present many challenges and obstacles to overcome. I knew for me to succeed in this industry, I would have to have fun, an unparalleled work ethic, determination, fortitude, and even a little luck to name a few. If I prospered, I knew my sons would see and understand through my actions what it takes to succeed in life no matter what they ended up doing.

Subsequently, everything we do at Declan James Watch Co is done with intent. This includes the naming of our watches. I receive many questions about the meaning behind the names and where they came from. To be short, the names are a nod the lessons I have learned in my life along the way. In a three-part series, I will explain the meaning behind the names. In “Part One” I will start with Declan James’s best-seller “The Critic.”

I remember when I decided to become a Navy SEAL. I found it strange that rather than encourage me, most people did the opposite. With a 75% failure rate, it was a feat most people thought I was not going to accomplish. That failure rate did not discourage me but rather excited me. Most thought, to include some very close to me, that I didn’t have what it took to be in the military let alone become a Navy SEAL. Most thought, at age 29 I was doomed to fail from the start. Sure, I did have some supporters, mostly my family, but far more critics. I did my best never to let them get me down though. I always believed that if someone else could do it then so could I. I always understood that it didn’t matter what “they” thought. It only mattered what “I” thought. After all, it wasn’t their journey and goal, it was mine.

The inspiration for “The Critic” comes from my experience embarking on the journey to become a SEAL. The name itself comes from a speech I would often reference for inspiration to help silence my naysayers. The speech is entitled “Citizenship in a Republic” given by Theodore Roosevelt on April 23, 1910. One notable passage from the speech is referred to as "The Man in the Arena”. The passage reads:

“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.”

The name of the watch is meant to serve as a reminder that it’s not the critic that counts, but rather the efforts of one bold enough to dare. It reminds those who wear it to never give up in the face of their doubters. With its roman numerals, The Critic pays tribute to people like Theodore Roosevelt and others who came before us; helping pave the way for our success. It honors their traditions and efforts. It honors their legacy. If they can do it, then so can you.

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