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Lance Armstrong is inspiring. His story is one that encourages you to fight to reach your goals. The story is so good that you almost think it can’t be true. Think of the sporting accomplishments alone. Before Lance Armstrong, no one has ever had more that than five Tour de France victories. Not only did Lance win five, but he went on to win number six and number seven. Far more than anyone had done before. Now he’s made a comeback, showing that he is still one of the best in the world at 37 years of age, and with three years off from professional cycling. It is inspiring!
And then there is the other Lance Armstrong story. This is the story of the cancer survivor. Lance went through a battle with testicular cancer that had spread to his lungs and brain. When he was diagnosed he was given a 20% chance of survival. Not only did Armstrong survive, but he went on to become a world leader at raising money and awareness in the fight against cancer.
No combine those two stories. Each on their own could make a movie, together they are spectacular. Armstrong’s fight with cancer came in the middle of his professional cycling career. He was out for two years and came back better than ever. The following year he won his first Tour de France, winning the three week race by a substantial margin, over 7 minutes. Some called it a fluke victory, so Lance came back and won again and again and again…. proving to be one of the best cyclists of all times.
Below, we’ll look at some lessons we can learn from Lance Armstrong. To give you a clear picture of Lance’s story, check out this video:
There is a lot we can learn from Lance Armstrong and the Tour. Lance himself tells us that we can learn life lessons from the Tour. He writes,
“It’s not about the bike. It’s a metaphor for life, not only the longest race in the world but also the most exalting and heartbreaking and potentially tragic. It poses every conceivable element to the rider, and more: cold, heat, mountains, plains, ruts, flat tires, high winds, unspeakably bad luck, unthinkable beauty, yawning senselessness, and above all a great, deep self-questioning. During our lives we’re faced with so many different elements as well, we experience so many setbacks, and fight such a hand-to-hand battle with failure, head down in the rain, just trying to stay upright and to have a little hope. The Tour is not just a bike race, not at all. It is a test. It tests you physically, it tests you mentally, and it even tests you morally.”
Here are some lessons that we can learn:
1. Persevere Beyond the Competition
Whether it is in his fight with cancer or in battling to win the Tour de France, Lance Armstrong is a great example of perseverance. The fact that he made a cycling comeback at all required significant perseverance. He didn’t need to go back to cycling. Success in any goal requires that you persevere.
In the Tour, pain builds from days of racing and mountain after mountain to climb up. What makes Armstrong successful is that he fights through the pain. Cancer taught him how much pain he could endure and cycling can’t match it. Now he pushes through the pain. Perseverance towards your goals will mean that you need to push through pain, and do so more than your competition.
Lance knows that if he keeps pushing on through the pain the competition will eventually fall behind him and he will ride on to victory. The same is true if you are in business. Your competition won’t keep up with you if you keep doing the things that you need to do to become successful even when you don’t want to – perhaps ESPECIALLY when you don’t want to.
2. When You Fall, Get Up and Keep Going
In one of the most impressive Tour de France performances ever, during the 2003 Tour on the important mountain stage to Luz Ardiden, Lance crashed after clipping a spectator with his handlebars. As with everything else in his life, Lance didn’t stay down. He got back up and powered his way back to the leaders catching and eventually blowing past them to take a commanding lead in the Tour.
When something happens in your business or life that gets you down, you need to get back up and keep going. Dust yourself off, get back on your bike, and ride. We will all face obstacles on a daily basis as we work towards our goals. Don’t let them slow you down.
Aside: To watch this impressive comeback visit:
3. Prepare, Prepare, Prepare
No one prepares for the Tour de France like Lance Armstrong. Certainly Lance prepare physical by getting into peak condition, but what really sets him apart from the others is the other things he does. Armstrong goes to the important mountain stages before the Tour and examines the climbs. He then rides them over and over again making sure he knows exactly where the steepest parts are, where to attack the field, and where to rest.
What kind of preparation can you do that will help you reach your goals more quickly? Perhaps extra practice before you give the big presentation, more research into your potential clients so you can specifically address their needs, or maybe going the extra mile to make sure your blog article has all the facts. Take the time to prepare well. Know that those who prepare and then take action will reach the top, they will get the big client and make the big sale. Do your preparation.
4. Surround Yourself With a Great Team
One of the ironies to professional cycling is that it takes a team to win, even thought there is an individual winner. Lance has consistently surrounded himself with an excellent team that helps him win the Tour. As the team leader, Lance would rely on others to set the pace, block the wind creating a draft, and help him defend the lead.
Whatever goal you are working towards you need a team. This may be a support team that encourages you on, challenges you, and holds you accountable to your goals. It might be a team that you work with on a day-to-day basis trying to achieve a common goal. Look to build a team that compliments your skills, encourage you, challenge you, and help you move on to victory.
5. Don’t Listen to the Critics
If you are attempting to do something great you will face critics. There will be people that will tell you that you can’t do it, or that it can’t be done. There will be people who look at your weaknesses and focus on those, and there will be people who simply try to pull you down because they want to keep you where you are.
As a champion, Armstrong has faced a constant berrage of critics. They said he couldn’t win and when he did, they said he couldn’t do it again. Later they turned to accusations of cheating and anything else they could do that could hurt his image. Time after time, Lance rose up and showed the critics that he was a real champion.
So ignore your critics; or better yet, use their criticism to energize you and provide the fuel you need to push you over the top.
6. Life Is Short, Use it Well
Cancer attacked Lance Armstrong as a young athlete in the prime of his career. This should be a reminder that life is short. We never know when our time will be up. Make every day count. Be thankful for the health you have, enjoy every day, and use it well.
As we leave, check out this inspirational commercial from Nike.
Use today, set your goals, and just do it!
(Last year I wrote about Success Principles from the Tour de France. Check it out here!)
Danny Gamache – The Success Professor
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