Live Responsibly

by Robert Rizzo | Twitter, Facebook,

Image: Cyclists

“In the long run, we shape our lives, and we shape ourselves. The process never ends until we die. And the choices we make are ultimately our own responsibility.”―Eleanor Roosevelt

Most of us have seen the media hype about Lance Armstrong. In January, he confessed to Oprah Winfrey, and the world, he used performance enhancing drugs to dominate the sport of cycling, including seven Tour De France victories. Some people applauded his decision, while others suggested he only came clean because of a looming investigation. Armstrong said he couldn’t allow his children to grow up believing a lie. Especially, his 13-year-old son, who frequently defended him.

A small step in the right direction

Many pundits have commented about his noticeable lack of action following his confession. Early on,  Armstrong suggested to the United States Anti-doping Association he would share specific details, and possibly even names, in an effort to salvage his image and that of cycling.

But yesterday, he started stonewalling, suggesting such disclosure is pointless unless he addresses an international committee which doesn’t currently exist.

Admittal is not ownership

Even during his interview with Oprah Winfrey, Armstrong found it difficult to take full responsibility.

I deserve to be punished,” Armstrong told Winfrey. But, he said: “I’m not sure that I deserve a death penalty,” comparing his punishment to the lesser punishments of other cyclists who doped.”I’m not saying that that’s unfair necessarily, but I’m saying it’s different,” Armstrong said.

What’s different?

You will believe your own lies

The truth is, if you tell yourself a lie long enough you’ll believe it. He told himself doping was justifiable because everyone was doing it. He said it was simply leveling the playing field. OK, that addresses the doping, but what about all the lying and bullying.

Bullies eventually get a beat down

Armstrong admits using fear and intimidation to coerce other riders to dope. Thereby, affirming his own misguided decisions.

Frankly, I think that’s what brought him down. Many people will turn a blind eye to cheating but everyone hates a bully. And we love to see a bully get some payback.

I don’t want to beat up Armstrong. He’s a person and people make bad decisions. Not all bad decisions effect so many people but they all effect someone. Even if  only you.

Doing the right thing, the wrong way

A couple weeks ago, I took my daughter to a fast-food restaurant. As we walked in, a man stumbled and fell at my feet. I’ve seen similar things before and they were often the result of low blood sugar, a health concern or simple misstep. My compassionate side saw someone in need.  I helped him to his feet but then he stumbled out the door to his car.

As we got in line, I realized the man was intoxicated. Some twenty people in the restaurant watched him get into his vehicle. In an effort to “do the right thing,” I called the local police department to report him. He pulled out of the parking lot and hit the curb to avoid an oncoming car. By the time I spoke with the police, he was driving away and all I could offer the police was a license plate number and a vehicle description.

I stood there ashamed, not knowing if this man would injure himself or some innocent bystander down the road. In an effort to “do the right thing,” I did little or nothing. Looking back I should’ve confronted the man in a friendly way and offered a ride, or a least detained him until the police arrived. Instead, I allowed him to potentially injure himself and others. I’ve accepted my bad decision and made a plan how I will react if that happens again.

Armstrong made a bad decision to dope, but what made it worse is he made more bad decisions to support his first bad decision. We’re all guilty of that. We do things in our life that we shouldn’t, then we find ways to hide them and cover them up. We convince ourselves that they’re OK, because they don’t hurt anyone. Except us.

What we can learn from Armstrong’s fall from grace

Below are several things we can learn from Armstrong’s fall.

  • Everyone makes bad decisions. -No one is immune. If you think you never make bad decisions you are lying to yourself.
  • Confession is the first step to redemption. – If you have made a bad decision admit to yourself.
  • Remorse is not repentance. – Just because you feel bad doesn’t mean you accept responsibility. Recognize the difference.
  • Refuse to believe your own lies. – If you are constantly justifying a decision, you may want to ask yourself why?
  • Bullies eventually take a beat down. – If you are a bully, stop! What you sow, you will eventually reap. In spades!
  • We cannot relive the past. – ‘nuf said.
  • It’s hard to regain trust. – It’s far easier to lose trust, than to win it back.

If you’ve already made some bad choices, here’s what you can do.

  • Admit it to yourself.
  • Forgive yourself.
  • Forgive others.
  • Make good choices today.

The choices you make today effect the life you’ll have tomorrow.

“I will spend the rest of my life … trying to earn back trust and apologize to people.” – Lance Armstrong

Image: Team Traveller
edits:A half-truth, a partial confession, a small step in the right direction.

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Robert is the founder of | Mediocrity-Free Living. He is passionate about helping people discover the rewards of daily giving.

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