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Winning in Business - Lessons from Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong this week won an unprecedented 7th Tour de France victory, confirming him as one of the greatest cyclists of all time. The fact that he won more Tour victories than anyone else in history is remarkable. But more incredible is that had to overcome life threatening cancer to dominate the Tour de France like no other athlete has ever done. From the Lance Armstrong story, there are many lessons we aspiring business champions can learn.

What are you capable of?

In beating cancer, Armstrong discovered within himself a depth of capability that he realised he had not been using. After recovery he was more aware of that capability and set himself a much greater challenge - to win the most prestigious cycling race in the world. We owe it to ourselves to make the most of our opportunities and capabilities. What are you capable of and have you set yourself a big enough challenge? Most of us are far more capable than we think and could achieve much more if we decided to.

Where is your focus?

Armstrong's goal was always to win the main event. He was not so worried about winning the daily stages. He knew when to put in extra effort and when to hold back, how to keep energy in reserve for the ultimate victory, rather than waste precious energy just to win the day. In business our focus is all too often on the short term. We are worried about getting through the day rather than being confidently working on our long term strategy. If we are not clear enough about the long term goal, we default to putting in all our effort to win the day. This short term focus sometimes takes us away from long term success. Is your long term goal clear and in your constant focus? Most of us need to decide what it is we really want and then to focus clearly on that long term goal.

How committed are you?

Armstrong learned that when the going gets tough, there is always a bit more you can find within yourself to give. Most people would have given up had they faced many of the challenges Armstrong faced. His life challenge taught him to keep going when he felt like giving up. Commitment to your goal means never giving in. How do you respond to challenges and difficulties in your business? Do you have the courage and commitment to keep going when it gets tough. Ultimate victory is never easy. But we can dig deeper and find the resources we need to keep at it when we feel like the effort is beyond us.

Do you really believe you can?

Armstrong, like all of us, had to overcome self-doubt. If anyone had an excuse to achieve less than the norm surely it is Armstrong. After all, how much do we expect from cancer victims? Just living to tell the tale is surely enough. So despite the new awareness of his capability, Armstrong still had to overcome the self-doubt that told him that it was too much to expect that someone like him could achieve more than most healthy people would aim for. Self-doubt is normal, but you don't have to believe the doubts. Armstrong chose to live above the doubts and chose to really believe he could achieve. What about you? What will you choose?

Do you match your tactics to the situation?

Armstrong mastered the art of clever tactics to suit each situation he was in. He didn't always go into a race with the same game plan. He was not totally predictable. He outfoxed his competition by using his brain as well as his efforts. How often do you think about your approach to business and how you compete? Are you predictable? Do you keep trying the same things, expecting different results? How can you develop tactics to keep you ahead of the pack? Do you spend enough time working on your business rather than just working in your business? We need to spend time to develop winning tactics, rather than spending all our efforts just trying to keep up.

Are you prepared to win?

Armstrong learnt that the race was never won in July, when all the riders were on the road competing. For Armstrong, the race was always won well before the event, by riding when others weren't willing to be on their bikes. Armstong puts his dominance down to the preparation he put into each event. He says, "If you want to do something great, you need a strong will and attention to detail." Armstrong learnt that nothing could compete with the hours of training and preparation he put in before the race began. How often do we go to work in our business not properly prepared? Have we spent enough time to learn the skills of selling, of leading other people, of managing our time, of managing our finances, of monitoring our performance? Have we prepared the tools to enable us to work at our best? Have we set up systems to monitor our results, so that we can see if our performance is improving or getting worse. Armstrong credits his success to all of these details. How can we expect to succeed in our business unless we are prepared, by putting in the time an effort that our competitors are not willing to give? Give yourself a fighting chance, by being prepared to win before you go to work.

Do you lead a great team?

You can't win the Tour de France by your own efforts. It is very much a team sport, even though there are individual winners. The team must be inspired by the leader to sacrifice their own efforts to put the leader into the best position to win. The leader tries to win for the sake of the team. Everyone on the team invests themselves in each other and inspires mutual belief. How much do you invest in your team to assist you on the road to success? Does your team understand and work for win-win outcomes? How important is your leadership in getting the best out of every member of your team? Do you enrich the lives of those around you? Or are you trying to win by your own efforts? We can't win the business race on our own. We can build a winning team to assist us to greater heights.

We can all learn lessons from Lance Armstong. We are all extremely talented, but we choose what we do with that talent. We can choose to cruise and achieve less than our full potential, like Armstrong before cancer. Or we can choose to give life our best shot, because we only get to do it once. What a shame if we don't make the most of it. We all have a gift that is our unique contribution to this planet and its people. Why not learn the lessons Lance Armstrong can teach us, to make every second count and be your best? Who knows what you could achieve?

Greg Roworth is the Managing Director of Progressive Business Solutions Limited, a business development consultancy firm with branches in Wellington and Auckland, New Zealand. Greg has created a unique business development program that assists business owners transform their business from a state of total dependency on them to a state where the business works so well they don't have to.

Greg is also the author of "The 7 Keys to Unlock Your Business Profit Potential," which describes the fundamental keys a business needs to achieve this transformation. Find out more, get 2 free chapters, or buy the book online at

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