Ride Your Own Tour de Leadership

 In Helping Others, Leadership, Leadership Development, Team Performance, Uncategorized

Leadership isn’t always about winning … or even making everyone happy. Sometimes it’s about furthering your own personal values and purpose. When you choose that kind of leadership, you’re simply not going to listen to your critics. In fact, the people who aim to taunt and challenge, might even inspire you to achieve more.

You know who inspires me this summer?

Lance Armstrong.

He hung tough throughout the Tour de France by finishing in third place. And at age 38, after a four-year hiatus, that’s pretty remarkable in my book.

What leadership does Lance show us so powerfully?

His determination, training, and giving it all he has in the moment—especially among a much younger crowd anxious to defeat him—beautifully embodies how to achieve more than we ever thought possible.

Lance joins plenty of other iconic athletes trying to come back to achieve a major victory. Michael Jordan and Magic Johnson both tried. And last year, Dara Torres, the 42-year- old mother and competitive swimmer, finished second (three times!) in the 2008 Summer Olympic Games in Beijing. Not one of these accomplished athletes achieved first place again. And this year, at least, Lance didn’t either.

Is success measured by coming in first?

It is for many people. They would conclude that Lance is driven by his oversized ego. And be critical of him coming in third after earning seven consecutive yellow jerseys. Say he should have quit while he was still on top.

But others would disagree. Maybe that’s not what it’s about for him. Maybe Armstrong was fighting to come back to publicly represent his indefatigable optimism that cancer can be beaten – and raise money and awareness for prevention and a cure.  Two huge, positive goals.

Lance Armstrong always has been criticized, analyzed, and characterized as having a big ego. Though he placed third while his teammate Alberto Contador ended up in first place, their team won the coveted team award. While the press made a great deal of the tension between these two team members, we wouldn’t know what conflicts existed for Lance, as he was so professional in all of his interviews.

What we can see is his determination to use his fame to help others in big ways; not for the sake of sound bites. This was hard work. I think that’s the legacy he leaves. That he is going to give it all he has for his personal satisfaction and for the greater good of others.

What can you learn from Lance Armstrong?

Create your personal mission and work hard to achieve it.  If you find yourself in a team environment, remember that your team can accomplish a great deal together, even with conflict.  Along the way you may encounter bumps in the road where you will need to get creative to achieve your goals. It pays to stay professional throughout your journey — no matter what.  Sometimes you have to live with second or even third place. Learn from that moment to move ahead.

As Lance Armstrong crossed the finish line on the Champs Élysées on Sunday, after three grueling weeks on the road, I would argue he accomplished what he set out to do.

Most important, he inspired us.

Get in the race. Then give it all you’ve got to achieve your goals.

That’s a personal tour we can ALL aspire to as leaders.