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Saturday, February 6, 2010

Success mantras from Lance Armstrong, a world champion

Lance Armstrong

Success mantras from a world champion

The champion cyclist Lance Armstrong's secret weapon is not his genetic gifts or his killer instinct, for these endowments are shared by many of his competitors.

Instead, it is his pure joy for living life and riding his bicycle.

Imagine a top athlete during an exhausting fish-out-of-water corporate sponsor day in the off-season. Not many would want to squeeze in a tough workout during their precious downtime. Instead, they would probably choose eating a proper meal, relaxing, and summoning the energy to "get through" the rest of the obligation.

As everyone he touched during these events can attest, Lance was in the moment, enjoying himself and his company at all times. Developing the ability to go with the flow and enjoy every experience that life has to offer, even when things don't go exactly as desired orhoped for, is the essence of "how Lance does it."

Lance Armstrong's approach to life is remarkably simple and clean, devoid of the psychological "issues" that make life a bitch for ordinary people.

It just so happens that he became the ultimate sports celebrity, so the world has been able to deeply appreciate the results generated when he did what he loved on his bicycle.

The qualities that make Lance a great champion are a mysterious blend of genetics, background, attitude, and behavior molded by years of life experience. We will have a ball analyzing the particulars to bring meaning and generate inspiration from his example.

Yet for Lance, everything must remain ridiculously simple. No one ever won the Tour de France by contemplating winning the Tour de France.

To get insights about what motivates this champion, read on. . .

Excerpted from: How Lance Does It: Put the success formula of a champion into everything you do by Brad Kearns.
Kearns has been a friend of Armstrong since their days as teammates on the pro triathlon circuit in the late 1980s. Kearns is a noted speaker, author and coach.
Price: Rs 299

When it's raining, put on a rain jacket and go

"When it's raining, I just put on a rain jacket and go." This was Lance's metaphoric answer to the question of how he dealt with vicious treatment at the hands of the European cycling media, who dogged him with unsubstantiated drug rumors for the duration of his Tour de France reign.

There is simply nothing that can compromise Lance's positive attitude and total focus on his goals -- whether it's literally inclement weather or the emotional storms that come from being a celebrity, team leader, and top dog in the highpressure world of professional cycling.

"When it's raining, I just put on a rain jacket and go", the champion says

Close your eyes for a second and imagine Lance waking up, looking outside, seeing rain, getting dressed appropriately, and heading out the door to train without hesitation. Behind this simple but highly symbolic image lie secrets that his competitors and everyday folk would kill for. You might not face a six-hour training ride in the freezing rain of Europe in February nor newspaper headlines that attack your character and accuse you of the worst sporting transgressions.

However, each of us faces the "bad weather" of stress, negative emotions, and personal conflict in our daily lives. Do you put on a rain jacket and carry on? Or do you complain, explain, and blame?

Get rid of the bad weather of your life fast

One thing that becomes clear when you learn about Lance's story is his total refusal to consider any alternative but the best: survival, perfect preparation, victory, good sportsmanship, total honesty, and giving to something bigger than himself in the cancer community. Lance's story is pure Hollywood. He and his mom brazenly take on the world.

He becomes a precocious world champion, gets cancer and nearly loses everything, and then comes back to achieve a victory so profound that he transcends his sport to become the American icon of hope.

However, you would have to cast someone else as Lance for the movie, for Lance himself has no "glam factor."

As an athlete, Lance was much more like a surgeon than a flamboyant crowd pleaser. There was no unnecessary waste of emotions, no empty rhetoric with high shock value, no anxiety whatsoever with carrying on his back the hopes of an entire team (an enterprise that grew to sixty-plus employees and a budget of more than $15 million annually) and an entire country in striving to win the toughest individual athletic event on earth.

Lance's seven Tour de France victories were a testament to his mechanical preparation and refusal to let outside influences demoralize or distract him. With such a focused approach, he was able to perform successfully even while surrounded by a pandemonium that dwarfed anything other athletes have faced.

Think of screaming Super Bowl or World Series fans unrestrained by stadium seats so that they may swarm the edges of the playing field and scream or spit in an athlete's face. Repeat the scenario every day for three weeks, and you end up with the estimated fifteen million roadside spectators in the Tour de France, enough to fill three hundred World Series stadiums

Simplicity is the key to happiness

It's easy to forget context when talking with Lance. In our interviews for this book, it felt like I was in casual conversation with an old friend about sports and life instead of having discussions -- booked after months of waiting for a spot on his calendar -- with one of the world's most recognizable and beloved athletes, one who achieved the greatest comeback in the history of sports, becoming the greatest cyclist of all time.

Lance is not the least bit self-important, long-winded, introspective, or mystical?he's just simple and straightforward. Of course, therein lies his secret.

To be exposed to Lance's unique perspective may be particularly valuable because many of us struggle with an overly complex, self-absorbed approach to life.

When things do not unfold exactly how we want and we get bogged down by mental demons like insecurity, peer pressure, and emotional baggage, we lose?whether it's a bike race or an attempt to live a happy life.

Many of us have read personal growth or self-help books before, each with an interesting take on how to achieve happiness, personal power, wealth, balance, peak performance, leadership?whatever the particular hook is.

In fact, one could spend a lifetime sitting around and reading book after book?filling the eager mind with winning strategies and success acronyms while accomplishing nothing.

Alternatively, you could set a goal that you would love to pursue and achieve, figure out precisely what it takes to achieve it, and head down that path with no hesitation or wasted energy.

4 factors that determine success

Success Factor 1 -- Positive Attitude: Lance has an intensely positive attitude about life, the key to overcoming difficult circumstances like cancer and winning the toughest bike race in the world seven years in a row.

He constantly maintains a winning environment for himself and everyone around him by choosing to interpret his past experiences and present circumstances in a positive manner.

Success Factor 2 -- Clarity of Purpose: Lance had a deep conviction and commitment to realize his potential as a cyclist, which resulted in his winning the Tour de France every year from 1999 through 2005.

He was motivated by his love of cycling and desire to give his absolute best effort after surviving cancer and being given a second chance in life.

In daily life, Lance consistently displayed the work ethic, focus, and prioritization skills that matched his clear life purpose every day.

He was willing to make the tremendous sacrifices necessary to become a champion and prevent outside influences (competitors, the distractions of celebrity life, and so on) from impeding him.

Success Factor 3 -- Specialized intelligence: Lance has extremely high intelligence narrowly applied and perfectly suited to his chosen endeavor as a pro cyclist. He developed his specialized intelligence by learning and improving from mistakes, cultivating an intuitive approach to training and life decisions, and adopting a big-picture perspective about his athletic goals to account for all performance variables.

Success Factor 4 -- Pure Confidence: Lance's greatest source of confidence was "doing the work"?preparing fully and competing in high-pressure situations.

He was focused on achieving peak performance and was not afraid to lose. This pure confidence transcends external variables that cause many to succumb to the negative influences of competitive pressure and the expectations of others.

I will support the success factor theory with never-before-published anecdotes from my extensive interviews with Lance, those in his tight inner circle, and other key observers.

We will see where Lance heads in the future, but it's no doubt that he is poised to apply his success factors in whatever direction he chooses -- cancer advocacy, working with the Discovery Channel cycling team he partly owns, business and corporate sponsorship affairs, or just being a mellow dad raising three kids in Austin, Texas. You, too, can apply these success factors to pursuits such as raising a family, running a business, pursuing an education, competing in cycling competitions, uncovering dinosaur bones, repairing shoes, or any other endeavor you might have a passion for.

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