Dear Mr. Armstrong-
Well, there’s no need to pile on at this point. You’re having a tough week. I was never one who idolized you, but I certainly admired your ability to inspire so many. I wonder how that “so many” are feeling today.
I’m writing to offer you a suggestion. Clearly, you have talents that do not require performance enhancing drugs. You built a worldwide movement with a rubber yellow bracelet for goodness sake. You know how to rally people to fight against a dangerous force. The first time it was cancer.
Cancer didn’t seem to have a chance against you. And you inspired others to have that same attitude in their fight against the disease. Now we all see that you should have left it right there. You didn’t need to win another bike race to be an inspiration and to lead a movement. That’s when you got into trouble.
So, what now? I suggest you take all that you learned from your battle against cancer and apply it towards another scourge trying to take over our world:
The increasing absence of integrity.
The world is really struggling with integrity right now and congratulations, you just became the poster child. You might as well make the best of it. It’s time to lead another movement Lance. It’s time to broaden the idea of Livestrong to include leading an honest and ethical life.
And I don’t think you should do this just for the sake of redemption. You should do this for the same reason you created the Livestrong movement – because you can teach us how to deal with the pain. You can instruct us on how to lift ourselves up when we are defeated. You can show us how to find strength in our weakest moments.
None of us are perfect. We all have had ethical failings. The difference is that you tried to build your entire legacy on a foundation of dishonesty. Young people can learn from their friends and families how to choose between right and wrong. But you can reveal to them how tempting it is to risk (and lose) your soul for the sake of winning a trophy.
There is a young person out there starting their business career who may soon be invited to take a shortcut to the top of the ladder. There are likely thousands of young athletes every day who want a championship so badly that their mind has entertained the idea of drugs. There are budding politicians who want to be selfless but see so much power amassed by those who don’t seem to be. They need to understand the consequences through your example.
So do the fraternity and sorority members who deal with their own share of dilemmas and difficulties.
They need to see that integrity matters again.
Instead of letting your example rest as a warning to others, let it set you free. Like your book is titled, it’s not about the bike. It’s about the person who rides it.
So, take that marvelous marketing brain of yours and apply it to this next great challenge. Get ready to tour the country talking about how you are now trying to overcome a different debilitating disease. There are so many self-righteous people out there, and I think we’re more willing to listen to someone who tried to win without integrity and lost horribly.
And if there is a bracelet involved, I’ll wear it.
Big news! Many most-read and beloved posts from this blog have been compiled into a book, Forever Fraternity: Essays to Challenge, Celebrate and Advance the College Fraternity. Discussion questions have been added in order to make the book an educational tool as well.
Order your copy off of Amazon or Barnes and Noble. If you wish to order a quantity of 20 or more to use for a program or Greek leadership class, contact John Shertzer at firstname.lastname@example.org for a discount.