1. ENJOY LIFE
2. CARPE DIEM
3. LOVE YOURSELF
4. LET GO
5. SEE FAILURE AS AN OPPORTUNITY
6. GET BACK UP
7. POLISH UP
8. BREAKDOWN, THEN BREAKTHROUGH
9. BE STRONG
10. SERVE SOMEONE TODAY
11. DWELL ON HAPPY THINGS
12. LOOK FOR THE BLESSINGS
“Nobody needs to cry for me; I’m going to be great…I have five great kids and a wonderful lady in my life. My foundation is unaffected by all the noise out there.” – Lance Armstrong
I love his optimism.
I’m a fan of Lance Armstrong. I’m not saying I know anything about his situation. Not a single one of us on the outside can know what happened with Lance or if the “doping” allegations are true or not. Whatever the case with Lance, I’m amazed at how he is handling the situation now.
In an early draft of my upcoming book, The Power of Starting Something Stupid, I related a story about Lance and his team director, Johan Bruyneel. The story didn’t end up making the final cut, but I’m excited to share it with you below. I hope it will inspire you as much as it does me.
Rain, snow and sleet covered the Pyrenees—the massive mountain range separating France from Spain. The team had arrived at a steep ski slope called Hautacam, which would be a key climb in the Tour de France that year. Though brutal elements “slashed down” on them, Lance Armstrong cycled the grueling ascent, nearly eight miles upward, while his extraordinary team director, Johan Bruyneel drove along behind him.
After thrashing his body to reach the top, Johan pulled up beside Lance, beaconing him to get into the car so they could go somewhere to get warm. Instead, Lance responded, “Let’s do it again.”
“It was crazy,” Lance recalls. “I was crazy. We were cold and tired. We’d already studied this horrifically steep mountain in more detail than any professional racing team ever had in history. No one else on earth would have told us we needed to do the climb again.” Yet, crazy as it was, they made the descent and began the climb again.
Lance had every reason not to go the extra mile that day (or the extra eight). He was already good enough. In fact, he’d recently been named the “ABC World Wide of Sports Athlete of the Year.”
However, despite his superior standing within the sport as a whole, he was not overcome by pride. Lance worked and trained as if he were at the bottom.
Lance later related, “When the Tour De France started that year, I took the yellow jersey on Hautacam. That was the glory. But the victory really happened out there in the driving rain and sleet” (Johan Bruyneel, Bill Strickland, and Lance Armstrong, We Might As Well Win (New York: Houghton Mifflin, 2008), ix–xii).
Lance taught then, and teaches now, that it’s not the circumstances of our lives that define us—it’s our response to them.
On that snowy day at Hautacam, another rider might have still made the initial climb, but Lance turned around and did it again. He wasn’t willing to allow unfavorible circumstances to dictate his propensity for success.
Today, despite detractors, despite public embarrassment, ridicule and even shame, Lance maintains pace with what matters most in his life. Essentially, he is saying, “enough is enough” and reclaiming his life, despite the challenging circumstances that surround him.
Like I said before, I’m a fan of Lance Armstrong.