In His Own Words
Lance Armstrong’s Advice on How to Face Adversity: Excerpts From His Books
Losing his titles and being banned from cycling are only Armstrong’s latest setbacks. Abby Haglage edits a selection of Lance on losing.
Whether you agree with the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency (USADA) decision to strip Lance Armstrong of his titles and ban him from the sport, or find it cruel and unusual punishment, the fact remains: the king of cycling has lost his crown.
It isn’t the first time the biking superstar has fallen, and he has the books to prove it.
Here is a roundup of Lance’s own words of encouragement—from finding the value in suffering to accepting failure as a means of growth. He’s made it through cancer, divorce, and a plethora of scandals. But with his biggest fall yet, the hardest task is upon him. If there was ever a time for taking one’s own advice, it’s now.
Mr. Armstrong, meet your optimistic other half.
“We have unrealized capacities that sometimes only emerge in crisis. So there is a purpose to the suffering…”
“Make an obstacle an opportunity, make a negative a positive.”
“Things take place, there is a confluence of events and circumstances, and we can’t always know their purpose, or even if there is one. But we can take responsibility for ourselves and be brave.”
“That is the essential truth that you learn. People die. And after you learn it, all other matters seem irrelevant. They just seem small.”
“During our lives… 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.”
“I didn’t do it for the pleasure; I did it for the pain.”
“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place.”
From Every Second Counts
“But near-death cleared the decks, and what came after was a bright, sparkling awareness: time is limited, so I better wake up every morning fresh and know that I have just one chance to live this particular day right, and to string my days together into a life of action, and purpose.”
“It’s about teeing the ball up high and hitting it hard while trying not to lose control. And if you shank it, then go and find your ball and try again … because the way you live your life, the perspective you select, is a choice you make every single day.”
“You just have to accept that someday you’re going to fail…”
“Losing, on the other hand, really does say something about who you are. Among other things it measures are: do you blame others, or do you own the loss? Do you analyze your failure, or just complain about bad luck? If you’re willing to examine failure, and to look not just at your outward physical performance, but your internal workings, too, losing can be valuable. How you behave in those moments can perhaps be more self-defining than winning could ever be. Sometimes losing shows you for who you really are.”
“Suffering, I was beginning to think, was essential to a good life, and as inextricable from such a life as bliss. It’s a great enhancer. It might last a minute, but eventually it subsides, and when it does, something else takes its place, and maybe that thing is a great space.”
“When you think about it, what other choice is there but to hope? We have two options, medically and emotionally: give up, or Fight Like Hell.”