Livestrong Includes Livehonest

By October 15, 2012Generations

LivehonestThe Lance Armstrong story is intriguing. Years of denial seem to be unraveling with teammates and testimony about how doping was done during all those cycling years. We all know of Lance Armstrong’s Tour de France wins. We know of his cancer survival, Livestrong initiative, and general good works. We also know of his consistent denial of doping accusations.

Recently, he gave up in fighting the accusations. With the standing down from the fight, there was no admission of guilt.

Jason Gay wrote an excellent article in the Wall Street Journal on how last week was a good day for cycling. Years of cover-up are over, and truth has come through. Many cyclists from his team have come forward, yet Lance Armstrong remains silent.

We can discuss the culture of doping, cover-up, and winning at all costs. We can discuss honesty versus winning. We can discuss sportsmanship and what it really means.

The more interesting question comes to this: What should Lance Armstrong do now?

It is an interesting choice. It is a choice of continuing to deny wrongdoing or seek redemption. Now, I know that denying the charge also means claiming innocence. The evidence seems overwhelming at this point. Most of the characters in this story have told their parts, and there is a consistency in how the questionable events unfolded.

The choice remains. What would you do?

Years of good work cannot be denied.

Character is at question though.

  • Do you continue to live under the suspicion and questionable character traits?
  • Do you finally admit what happened and try to live in a better, honest way?
  • What about all the money gained under hollow wins? What do the sponsors do? What does Lance do?
  • At what point, do people change course by admitting fault and work to correct past deceptions and questionable character traits?

I don’t have all the answers, but it is important to pause and consider how we would act. From other people’s stories, we can learn lessons for our own life.

I do know that living strongly includes living honestly. I know it is tough to admit guilt, but it is the only way a redemptive process can begin. I know that winning carries a cost, but the cost should not include the loss of character and integrity.

I don’t consider Lance Armstrong a hero, never have. I do consider him a human, full of possibility and frailty.

We need to stand up to our choices and actions, embracing the results and consequences. Livestrong means to Livehonest. Maybe it is time to tie this around our wrist as a daily reminder.

What would you do if this was your story?


Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz is one of the Top 100 Thought Leaders in Trustworthy Business and highlighted as one of the Leaders to Watch in 2015 by the American Management Association. He also is the author of Activate Leadership: Aspen Truths to Empower Millennial Leaders. Jon serves as vice president of marketing at Corepoint Health. Outside of his professional life, Jon brings together a community to inspire Millennial leaders and close the gap between two generations of leaders.
Jon Mertz
Jon Mertz

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Join the discussion 19 Comments

  • @skippydetour says:

    Just found this site by ” google ” Around the web ” ads ! The PAST is just that , the past ! However , those athletes now retired that took to Team Management or Coaching/training ” incoming ” Athletes will be influential in the morality of their proteges . So as to try and open the door on the future WITHOUT concealed ” secrets ” this petition was created :

    Do we need ATHLETES with Ability or athletes with supplements ?

    Sign on for a future for Clean SPORT :

  • Randy Murray says:

    Armstrong isn’t a hero any more, but he could become one by stopping, clearing the air, let everything go, and working for the rest of his life behind the scenes to rid sports of the pressure to win at all costs. True heros are rarely seen or recognized. True heros make hard personal choices.

    • Jon M says:

      Making the transition to stepping up to the challenge is the right step. It will be interesting to see if that happens, as this will be his biggest challenge yet. It will require internal strength. Thanks, Randy, for your insights and thoughts. Jon

  • Ed Baker says:

    Jon, well thought out. We all focus on our place, our passion and our desire to make a contribution. It still takes unbridled hard work, dedication and desire to achieve, doping alone does not create performance. it seems we are in a time of bringing down icons. We are all quick to judge Lance using the sword of our character definition. Yes, Lance saw others beat their cycling team and likely used performance enhancing drugs, unbridled hard work, dedication and desire. Then he used his stature to turn ordinary people into heroes in the fight against giving up. Lance you have created heroes and sacrificed yourself, well done!

    • Jon M says:

      Thanks so much for adding your voice and perspective to the conversation. There is no doubt that Lance has used his success to encourage others to step-up to their challenges and not give up. I think this is an important element to this story.

      There is no need to judge at all, in my opinion, too. It is to learn and think about what would we do next.

      Appreciate your insights, Ed. Thanks!! Jon

  • rob white says:

    Hi Jon, that is a great question. I like the interesting angle you have taken with this issue. Indeed, it is said that sometimes we have to separate the teacher from the lesson. Lance certainly has the hardest yards ahead of him now. I have faith in his spirit to meet the challenges head on and leave a legacy that builds on the foundation of his Livestrong initiative.

    • Jon M says:

      Thanks, Rob. Appreciate your insights. I agree that Lance has the spirit to meet the challenges ahead, and he has a created a living legacy with Livestrong. It is a story to learn from in our own lives, and we need to think it through, too. Appreciate it, Rob! Jon

  • Kath Roberts says:

    Jon-Interesting post. When winning at all costs ends up pushing boundaries of honesty, decency and integrity it is time for the truth to come out. I agree that Lance, like many others before him and many who will follow are humans of possibility or frailty. Sometimes a desire at all costs gives us both but ultimately we always lose in the end because when its on our conscience there is no running away.
    Lance has maybe allowed the cycling aspect to define him rather than listening to that wiser inner spirit.

    • Jon M says:

      Thanks, Kath, for your insights to these choices. Winning for headlines may ultimately lead to headlines that strike at our character. Sorting through this during the initial choice make us human in the way we choose.

      The Lance story gives us an opportunity to pause and consider our own life choices and ones to come.

      Appreciate your insights. Jon

  • Heather Maggio says:

    The Lance Armstrong saga is one that haunts me a bit. For a variety of reasons that couldn’t begin to be explained through my comments. But I will come at it from this perspective, we are assuming here that his teammates are now telling the truth and that Armstrong has lied through the process. Test after test, accusation after accusation, Armstrong passed everything thrown at him. He defied what everyone considered humanly possible. Everyone wanted to see him destroyed in order to make ‘excuses’ for their weakness maybe. Maybe just because he was beyond comprehension. But the Armstrong saga simply shows that everyone has a breaking point. When your own teammates begin to turn against you, that could break anyone into silence. I have a friend of mine who was accused of misdoing for many years. The Attorney General of the State of Washington took everything from her because her team of employees turned on her and began accusing her of many misdoings. I began questioning her innocence as well. After months of intensive investigation, she was proven by the same AG to be completely innocent. But it was too late. She lost her entire business, her personal home and belongings fighting the accusations legally because friends who believed her to be guilty. And what was she to do. Shout from the rooftops that she was innocent? Her reaction was to hole up. She had reached her breaking point. I believe these accusations against Armstrong have broken his spirit. I don’t blame him. I would do exactly the same thing. Know quietly that what I did was right. No one would need to know that but me and God. If he is guilty, what would his admittance do? Make us feel better that we aren’t as inferior? That it takes drugs to make us better. His story shouldn’t make us want to tear someone down, but to strive to be as GREAT as God made each of us. But instead we waste our time wanting to tear down others and not spend that energy making ourselves better. Jon, thank you for a great post that makes us think and ponder. The choices we face daily are overwhelming and what I would choose to do in a situation like Armstrongs and what someone else does are so different.

    • Jon M says:

      Really appreciate your insights, Heather. I agree that there is no value whatsoever to tear people down. We can learn from others, just as we can learn from our own choices and actions.

      I also agree there is always a real danger of being accused wrongly and suffering for it. What your friend went through was extremely tough, and I cannot even begin to imagine the pain and suffering.

      Appreciate your voice and experience being added to this conversation, Heather. Thanks! Jon

    • euonymous says:

      Heather, thank you for writing this. I’ve seen people destroyed by lies, too. In fact a stepson was wrongfully accused of something that took time, money, and a smart lady lawyer to demonstrate that the accuser had been set up to perform the accusation. I wouldn’t call Armstrong a “hero” but he certainly was and is someone I admire. Like you I’ve wondered why his teammates are supposedly turning against him, if that is what is really happening. That has to hurt. We may never know the truth. What the world accepts as truth will, to some extent, depend on how Lance handles the rest of his life. I wish him well and hope this experience does not destroy his spirit. He’s been through a lot and what the public has watched has been admirable.

  • Randy Conley says:

    I’ve been wrestling with this same question Jon, although I haven’t been able to express it as eloquently as you have.
    As it pertains to me, I would like to think I would have avoided the dishonesty from the beginning by choosing to do the right thing. As it pertains to Lance Armstrong, assuming he’s guilty, I think he’s painted himself so far into a corner and lived the lie for so long that he probably can’t conceive of doing anything else.
    No one questions his indomitable spirit and courage in overcoming cancer and all the great works he’s done for others. Beyond that, however, I don’t think his character has the same level of trust and respect from others. As you also stated, I haven’t ever considered him a hero from the standpoint of his racing accomplishments and so I’m not surprised nor dissapointed that he probably cheated (because I pretty much have assumed he did just as all the other top riders have done).
    For me it’s one more reminder that we will always be dissapointed if we place our ultimate faith in other humans and not in our Creator.
    Take care,

    • Jon M says:

      Really appreciate your thoughtful comments, Randy. I agree that I wouldn’t have started down the “dishonest” path in the beginning. Although we wrestle with this as humans, sometimes being obscure and live honestly is better than to be well-known and live untruthfully.

      I believe that choosing truth at this point, as painful as it might be, is still the best path forward. His story can become even more relevant for many more in how he handles it from here.

      Thanks for joining in the conversation. Jon

      • Randy Conley says:

        I’m reminded of the old cliche, but it’s true: There’s never a wrong time to do the right thing. I think the public at-large tends to be pretty forgiving of its superstars, and if Armstrong were to come out and admit that he cheated, people would be upset initially but they’d quickly rally behind him (because of all the other great things he’s accomplished) and he’d be none the worse for wear.

        • Jon M says:

          I think you are right, Randy. It will be interesting to see this story unfold more, but it does give us things to think about in our own life, too. Thanks!

  • Dave Carpenter says:

    Awesome post…as applicable to each of us, as it is to Lance Armstrong.

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