Do What You Gotta Do
I can barely read the predictable Lance Armstrong stories.
Basically, everyone is saying:
We are all disappointed. Sure, none of us is actually surprised that he could’ve dominated so much without doping but it’s still a big bummer. We’re crushed that it’s actually true. The guy beat cancer, for crying out loud! We all got these yellow bracelets. You have one in a drawer or tacked to a corkboard. You proudly wore it to a birthday or funeral. How could Lance have let us down? We all believed in him!
And, reading these things is depressing because we’re all so damn used to Heroes Letting Us Down. It’s the same damn story over and over, complete with our collective crestfallen shock and dismay.
Look, heroic people are flawed. They aren’t perfect and we all know it. Flaws in heroes actually make them human. Flaws are complicated, wonderful, and terrible-- an irrefutable fact of existence. They connect us.
However, Lance Armstrong’s flaw—the need to cheat to win—isn’t actually a flaw. It’s a cherished value. Lance giving up on fighting the charges of him doping did not expose a “problem” or “mistake” or “failure” on his part—at least, not as a heroic competitor.
That’s because everyone knows: in our culture, you need to cheat to win.
Don’t crunch up your nose. You believe it. I believe it.
Politicians and sales people need to lie to us.
Bankers need to cook the books.
Business owners need to do stuff under the table.
I can relate. When I drive, I sometimes get in the turning lane and then jump over to the straight ahead lane. It's freakin' faster, man. Is it different? By degrees, yes--but not by anything else.
Success through the back door, a wink, breaking a rule, stretching a truth, getting away with something—it’s what we call "getting ahead."
The only thing that Lance Armstrong did wrong is that he got caught. And that’s the truth that none of us really wants to talk about.