There is no question that Lance Armstrong has one of the most unique comeback and sporting histories of all time. He was a little known triathlete, cancer survivor, turned seven time Tour de France winner, and founder of an extremely successful non-profit foundation, before dramatically falling from public grace by virtue of the U.S Anti-Doping Association (USADA). As a fellow cyclist and racer, I held Lance’s accomplishments in very high regard, adorning my office with Lance posters and a picture from our meeting after his 7th tour victory.
The first lesson that I learned from Lance, and the inspiration for my office poster, was his outlook on what it takes to be successful. Lance said that one has to be fully committed to self improvement and take responsibility for their training as the sole pathway to their improvement. He claimed that if a person could put aside daily distractions and invest just one hour per day of dedicated training in their desired area of improvement of physical fitness, learning a language, playing the piano, becoming a stronger business leader, etc., they would see dramatic improvement. This one hour per day investment over the course of 1-2 years, would likely result in that person becoming an “expert” in their local area. A two hour investment per day would advance them into “regional expert” status. Continuing with this exponential success equation, four hours of training per day would make them a “national expert” and eight hours a day of committed training is what it takes to be “world champion.” This simple concept that one gets results commensurate with their dedicated training investment is real and his poster was a daily reminder of its power. It helped motivated me to invest in training and the results followed….just as he had promised.
Then, shockingly, Lance’s 15 year history of success came under extreme scrutiny by USADA and eventually led to his fall from public grace. This fall prompted the second and more important of the two lessons I learned from Lance. How we accomplish something is more important than what we accomplish.
We, at Woodland, O’Brien & Scott, have been teaching this important 2nd lesson to home building companies for many years in our Voice of the Customer and Customer Satisfaction requirements and strategies. We originally credited Dov Siedman and his book “How: Why How We Do Anything Means Everything….in Business (and in Life)” where he points out that we are not defined by what we do (i.e. building or selling homes), but by HOW we do it. In Lance’s case, he didn’t get in hot water for what he did – i.e. winning the Tour de France seven times – he fell from grace for HOW he did it – cheating – according to the USADA.
I had considered taking down the Lance poster when his verdict and penalties were announced, but now the poster’s purpose has changed – now it reminds me that the “How” is even more important than the “What” we do in life. Thank you Dov and Lance for teaching us this lesson from both ends of the spectrum.
With a New Year and its tradition of resolutions upon us, perhaps it is a good time to recognize that there is ample time in our work and home lives to become better if we desire it and take ownership of it.
Management meeting question of the week: “Are we investing in committed training to improve our vocation (and avocations)?”