Congratulations to the great Lance Armstrong on his third-place victory in Paris yesterday.
I’m aware that third place is not a real victory. Lance knows this too, and said so himself in the post-race interviews. However, when you’ve been out of the tour for four years, you broke your collarbone a few months ago, and you’re more than a decade older than the teammate who ended up winning, I think that third place is pretty good.
Lance is still a winner in my book. He’s already planning to come back next year, and I’m pretty sure he won’t settle for a mere third place out of 180 riders in 2010.
I talked with someone recently about Lance, and he brought up all the reports of drug use that Lance has had to deal with over the past decade. “I was glad when he was finally proven innocent,” he said. “Now, everyone knows he is clean and no one can falsely accuse him again.”
I really do wish it were that simple.
Unfortunately, there are still a great number of people who think that no one can be awesome without having an unfair advantage. When Lance said he was coming back, the head of the Tour de France said he was “embarrassing” the tour. How can a 7-time champion who’s never been proven guilty of anything illegal embarrass the tour? Personally, I think the embarrassment will come next year when Lance kicks everyone’s ass and wins the whole race at age 38, but I digress.
There are still groups that believe man did not walk on the moon forty years ago. Some people think climate change is hype. Obama couldn’t have been born in the U.S.
It’s a hard battle against these kinds of mindsets. Facts and logic will not change their minds. No amount of negative tests will convince some people that Lance doesn’t need drugs to win.
Or, You Could Just Knit Socks
You don’t have to be a champion athlete to find your share of nutcase critics. Go and read this post from Stephanie Pearl-McPhee (the Yarn Harlot) to see another recent example of insanity.
Some people were skeptical when I wrote earlier this year about how you can be planting flowers for world peace, and someone will get highly pissed off. Is it really that bad?
Well, Stephanie writes about knitting. No offense to the knitting community (I know from close exposure to one of their tribe that they take themselves seriously), but from the outside I view knitting as a pretty tame activity. I don’t quite understand why anyone could become so enraged about sock-making, but I’m also not completely surprised.
When people ask why I don’t write very much about my family or home life on this site, I say it’s because of situations like this. One nutcase can do a lot of damage, unfortunately, and not everyone asks for a public life.
Getting People to Hate You
This quote from Hugh MacLeod puts it well:
“To get a lot of people to hate you, all you need to do is make a lot of money doing something you love.”
You can also replace “make a lot of money” with any number of other phrases that reflect success:
“…all you need to do is have a lot of fun….”
“…all you need to do is help a lot of people…”
“…all you need to do is be better than everyone else…”
This week the New Yorker tells the story of a man who decided to donate his kidney to someone he didn’t know. In the recovery room after the surgery, he answers the phone to an irate caller. The caller tells him she hopes his other kidney will fail because he should have donated to her husband instead of the stranger he chose. He gets the hospital to turn off the phone, but before he’s discharged, the newspaper publishes an editorial questioning whether it was ethical for him to be a voluntary organ donor.
To me, this is the height of absurdity. Someone checks into a hospital, has part of his body cut out and given to someone he doesn’t even know, and then someone else says he should die because he helped the “wrong” person. But again, I’m not that surprised.
I don’t wish to scare you off from doing great things and winning your own battles. Please, please, don’t stop doing what you’re good at.
I remind you of these things because winners need to be supported, not attacked. Specifically, here’s why this is important:
- Criticism is often motivated by the discomfort some people feel when others succeed. It’s easier to bring winners down a notch than it is to rise to their level. Winners who possess self-confidence and focus are often labeled as arrogant by those who lack both qualities.
- Winners attract other winners. I like hanging out with winners, including many of you who care about what I have to say. In addition to the nutcases, you’ll also attract a lot of fun people when you win.
- The thing about proving people wrong – be aware that it can be a dangerous motivation. As mentioned, many of them will never be convinced no matter what you do. When you’re lying in a ditch after crashing your bike and breaking your collarbone, you’d better have your own motivation to recover enough to come back to the Tour de France three months later.
Congratulations again to Lance Armstrong and the Yarn Harlot for shaking off their critics and continuing to be awesome.
Also, congratulations to YOU. You’re a winner, right? Be prepared for the things that some people will say. But don’t give in.