Lessons Entrepreneurs can Learn from Lance Armstrong

24th Jun 2012
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“Pain is temporary. It may last a minute, or an hour, or a day, or a year, but eventually it will subside and something else will take its place. If I quit, however, it lasts forever. That surrender, even the smallest act of giving up, stays with me. So when I feel like quitting, I ask myself, which would I rather live with?” This is what Lance Armstrong, the man who won the Tour de France seven consecutive times after being diagnosed with testicular cancer in 1996 with less than 40% chance of survival says in his autobiography “It’s not about the bike – my journey back to life”. Here are some of the lessons which entrepreneurs can learn from the legend of cycling.

Quitting lasts forever

This is the main reason why investors pay most attention to the founding team. In the initial days of a startup when you have to do everything by yourself and unnecessary delays dampen your spirits this is what keeps an entrepreneur going. You have to learn to hold your patience and keep moving forward in times of pain and there should not be a moment in future where you say “I wish I could have done that”. Had Lance Armstrong quit after being diagnosed with cancer he could not have been the legend he is today and neither this article would have existed.

Get the yellow jersey in early stages and retain it

In Tour de France, race leader at the end each stage gets a yellow jersey. In entrepreneurial context it translates to shipping your product fast and iterating it with improvements and features by the means of user feedback and continuing this cycle.

Celebrate with peloton

A peloton is a large group of riders in the cycle race which helps in reducing air drag for overall group. Cyclists in the middle face up to 40% less air resistance and thus save a lot of energy. Lance used to reward his teammates at the end of tour who worked hard to increase his efficiency and thus helping the team win the tournament. Same way you must recognize the contribution of each member which helps building high motivation level of the team and thus increased efficiency of the team.

A boo is a lot louder than a cheer

Lance Armstrong famously said, “A boo is a lot louder than a cheer. If you have 10 people cheering and one person booing, all you hear is the booing”. When you reach new heights you will get admirers as well as people who brainlessly criticize your every action. You will have to learn to carefully filter signal from noise, to differentiate good criticism from negative criticism. And how to ignore boos and not get taken away by the cheers.

A clean conscience

Tour de France which is considered to be the most difficult cycling tournament in the world is something which is the hallmark of French traditions and a foreigner who is a cancer survivor winning it multiple times is not something acceptable to French authorities. In spite of multiple allegations of doping, he has come out clean. In the race to grow fast it may be tempting to use unethical means to get the job done. But what matters is how you deal with the temptations and stay clean. And in the end we have to be answerable to no one but our conscience.

These are some of the lessons which will help entrepreneurs in riding the wave and staying put throughout their journey.

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