The Armstrong Factor: When Talent & Ambition Are Not Enough


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Lance Armstrong on how he could do what he did:

I think this just ruthless desire to win. Win at all costs, truly. 
Serves me well on the bike, served me well during the disease, 
but the level that it went to, for whatever reason, is a flaw. 
Then that defiance, that attitude, that arrogance, you cannot deny it.

I remember a mentor of mine said that to succeed you needed ambition and talent, and of the two ambition was more important. Because ambition could make up for lack of talent.

Certainly I have met plenty of ‘successful’ people who had achieved great results because of their drive, despite not being the most talented of their peers.

But is there something missing here?

Is Lance Armstrong just a reflection of what has been going on in the world large scale? i.e. that using whatever talent you have with ruthless ambition to win at any cost really ends up damaging everyone in the long run.

He mentioned in the interview with Oprah that it broke his heart to tell his son the truth. To stop defending him to his friends.

Can you imagine what that would feel like to do with your child?  Or indeed to be the child hearing it?

If only he’d spent some time really thinking about that possibility many years before now. Indeed, as leaders, it’s a useful thought to keep in mind with our actions. Being ethical may not always win you the gold medal, but at least it makes it easier to look your son in eye.  And maybe the world needs a bit more of that…

Food for thought.