7 Lessons from Lance Armstrong

7 Lessons from Lance Armstrong

7 Lessons from Lance Armstrong

In this week’s Success Newsletter, I would like to reveal the 7 lessons from Lance Armstrong, the winner of 7 consecutive Tour de France races, who has now admitted to doping.

First a quick update:

“Don’t idolize the artist – list of bad celebrity behavior”
The famous surrealist painter Salvador Dali created some of the world’s most famous art but he also engaged in bizarre behavior such as praising the dictator Francisco Franco for signing death warrants for prisoners during the Spanish Civil War. The lesson – idolize the art but not the artist. Read my article here.

Now, let’s talk about the 7 lessons we can gleam from Lance Armstrong, the winner of 7 consecutive Tour de France cycling races, who has now admitted to doping.

Throughout his cycling career, Lance Armstrong, denied ever doping and he earned over $100 million from his wins and endorsements. Claiming that he was being persecuted, Armstrong set out to destroy the lives and careers of people who spoke the truth and accused him of using drugs to boost his abilities and performance such as Emma O’Reilly the masseuse, teammates Frank Andreu and Tyler Hamilton, and sports journalist Paul Kimmage.

However, in 2012, Armstrong was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles (1999 to 2005) and banned from the sport for life in October, following USADA’s 1,000-page report portraying him as the mastermind of “the most sophisticated, professionalized and successful doping program that sport has ever seen.”

And despite that damning report which included testimony from 11 former teammates, Armstrong continued to deny using any performance-enhancing drugs. He did so for at least seven more months, until January 14 2013, when Armstrong made an apology to the satff of Livestrong Foundation (the cancer charity Armstrong founded in 1997) prior to his TV interview with Oprah Winfrey where he admits to doping.

The International Olympic Committee stripped Armstrong of his 2000 Olympics Bronze medal and has asked him to return the medal.

Already a number of lawsuits have been filed against Lance Armstrong: The London-based Sunday Times, has filed a lawsuit to recover $500,000 it paid him to settle a libel case; SCA Promotions, which tried to deny Armstrong a promised bonus for a Tour de France win, is planning another lawsuit to recover $7.5 million awarded by an arbitration panel; the government of the state of South Australia is seeking repayment of several million dollars in appearance fees paid to Armstrong for competing in the Tour Down Under in 2009, 2010 and 2011.

However, this article is not about judgment of Lance’s apology, nor its form or its timing or the cries for restitution by his critics. This article, though, is about the lessons we can learn from Lance Armstrong’s behavior.  (Also read “So Much To Lose – Loss Aversion”)

In a recent interview for a new TV series (not yet announced), I stated that we can learn from both the successes and mistakes of celebrities and athletes, and, we can apply those lessons in our own lives.

Here are 7 lessons from Lance Armstrong.

1. How you get there does matter – We focus obsessively on winning – winning at all costs. We reward winners without any regard for what they did to achieve that win. In turn, we place the win above morality and integrity, and we encourage greed, selfishness and narcissism. The lesson is that the way we achieve our results or “successes” in life does actually matter, and we need to place boundaries and limits on our behavior and at all times maintain our integrity, wary of instant gratification and extreme self-promotion.

2. Beware of false justification – some people on blogs have attempted to justify Lance Armstrong’s use of drugs by arguing that other cyclists were also using drugs. Would you accept this excuse from your children or from a cheating spouse? We need to determine our own values and be true to them, regardless of other people’s behavior.

3. Cheating is not acceptable and leads to more wrongdoing – When a person cheats in any form (school tests, relationships, business dealings, etc) it creates a chain reaction – the attempt to cover it up. In other words, cheating often leads to lies and deception as the cheater tries to cover up his bad action. One lie will then lead to a series of lies or other behaviors driven by fear of being caught. It is easy to give into the temptation to cheat but only self-control and self-discipline can prevent cheating.

4. Trust is precious and priceless– If ever you have lost trust in someone, then you understand the significance of trust as a foundation and pillar in a strong and healthy relationship. Without trust, there can be no real safety, security or intimacy in a relationship, and in turn, it leads to jealousy, bitterness and resentment.For celebrities and people in business, trust also has a monetary value. The Davie Brown Index (compiled by The Marketing Arm – a Dallas-based firm) is a poll of consumer opinions that is used to measure public trust and popularity of about 2,900 celebrities. Businesses and corporations use that index of “trust” scores to rate image popularity and thus determine the viability and value of a celebrity for use in the endorsement of products. When a celebrity loses the public’s trust, he or she also loses major endorsement deals.  In June 2008, Armstrong’s trust level ranked 65th, and in November 2012, it had plummeted to 2,625th of 2,900 celebrities.

5. False gods on a pedestal always fall – We worship athletes and celebrities, failing to realize that they are not gods or superhuman. Yes, some athletes can be role models but today most are not good ones, possibly because we have placed most emphasis on the ability and skill and chosen to ignore morality and character. We also often confuse the art and artist; we can idolize the art but should not idolize the artist since he, too, will reveal himself to be human and cannot live up to our expectations of perfection and is not intended to be a role model simply because he is famous or charismatic.

6. Beware of creating a false self-image – When we create a self-image designed to win the people, an image of being almighty and superhuman, we create a lie that eventually controls and destroys us.

7. The truth always comes out – No matter whom we are or how powerful we are, we cannot escape the power of the truth. Without exploring here the explanations or reasons as to how and why the truth always comes out, the key is to remember that it does always come out – even if it is years later. And if much time passes before the truth is exposed, we cannot bypass the power of our own guilt or our subconscious.

Finally, always consider which is the better win – a real and honest one which leaves you feeling proud and fulfilled or an artificially stimulated one driven only by ego and narcissism? If the answer is so obvious, then ask yourself what it takes to always focus on and pursue the real win?

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I wish you the best and remind you “Believe in yourself -You deserve the best!”

Patrick Wanis Ph.D.
Celebrity Life Coach, Human Behavior & Relationship Expert & SRTT Therapist

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