So I just got in from work, and the ONLY thing that has been on my mind all day was when would I get the chance to watch the recording of Oprah interviewing Lance Armstrong about his use of doping throughout his career. I have been completely baffled and confused by all the reports in the news and wanted to hear from the horse’s mouth what his justifications were. He was prepared to destroy himself, his friends, his family and destroy the reputation of his sport; something which so many people over the years would have worked passionately to build up.
Like many of you…. I didn’t get it.
I was absolutely fascinated by the responses he gave to probing questions from Oprah. He seemed extremely calm, I sensed a little remorse, but he seemed far too in control of his emotions and was able to find some justification in his actions, making clear his motivations all the way along were to win at ALL costs. Watching at first made it very difficult to connect with him. I was expecting tears, some real outburst of emotion and begging for forgiveness, but in part 1 so far, he hasn’t given it to us.
All that was running through my mind is how could he keep this sustained lie up for so long? He would have been more than happy to go to his grave with this secret if no one ever found out. All he cared about was winning, which led him to 7 Tour de France titles where he openly admits to achieving through lying, cheating, bullying and of course…doping. He became so immersed he could not even see the potential consequences of his actions and his little secret has become one of the biggest scandals in sporting history.
After the interview I went off for a bath and a glass of wine to try and digest what I had just watched.While sitting in the bath something came to me that made me see the whole interview in a different light.
I remember the first day of my NLP course run by amazing teacher called Louise, who explained to the group the presuppositions of NLP, which are statements you had to buy into to make sense of the whole course.
The first one that stood out was:
‘ Every action or behaviour has a positive intention’
I remember thinking to myself that the statement was complete rubbish… well not just thinking, I made it clear to many around me I thought it was complete nonsense! I knew that people do horrific things to each other with negative intentions. I wasn’t prepared to buy into it.
Louise took the time to explain what the statement means. All our actions have at least one purpose – to achieve something that we value and benefits us. NLP separates the intention or purpose behind an action from the action itself. A person is not their behaviour. When a person has a better choice of behaviour that also achieves their positive intention, they will take it.
It has taken me a long time to fully understand that statement, but as years go on (and I would like to think I am maturing 🙂 ), learning to view things this way has helped me to make sense of situations that are sometime difficult to digest. Going through the course, I slowly started to understand this concept. Admittedly, it didn’t mean that I had to like or agree with negative actions, but it helped me separate the action from the purpose behind it and find a way to move on.
The more I thought about Lance Armstrong the more I started linking up other principles I have learnt. In a book by Dale Carnegie called ‘How to win friends and influence people’, Dale Carnegie explains his theory that ALL of us have a desire to feel important.
He goes on to explain his theory and hence why he believes criticising people has no impact whatsoever. Criticism does not help us achieve our ultimate intention and therefore we never buy into it.
I agree with this point from Carnegie. The desire for importance in life is something we all seek and is as simple as wanting to feel like our life has purpose, meaning and value. That when we eventually pop our clogs, we will be remembered for contributing something of substance to the world. I believe this can be demonstrated by the mother who desires to bring beautiful children into this world, to something as simple as wanting to giving money to a charity. Most actions stem from a desire for our life to have importance and purpose. Without doubt I know I this desire is my ultimate motivation in life … all the talk of my life goals of seeking success and happiness and blah blah blah blah is solely linked to the fact that I want my life to mean something when I die. It all helps us to feel like we have given something back to the world and a purpose for being here … and I believe there is absolutely nothing wrong with this motivation and it is pure.
Abraham Maslow in 1943 introduced the world to his theory on human motivation. That our motivations in life go through basis stages of trying to achieve firstly safety needs, belonging and love needs, esteem and respect needs and finally self-actualization. Ultimately we are all on the same path whether we realise it or not.
But maybe the most interesting point he makes… is that sometimes us humans will go to any length to achieve the importance we seek. We have all either been or witnessed the micromanager in the workplace who tries to take control of everything to make themselves feel important, or people who take the opportunity to criticise, belittle and judge others to achieve the same effect. Although the action on the surface seems negative, if we can separate the purpose of the action to the action itself, it starts to be something we can all relate to, but sometimes just go about it in the wrong way.
Humans will lie, cheat and steal to obtain this simple goal. On reflection of the interview I believe Lance Armstrong’s win at all costs motivation was simply someone who took a major U-turn, developing a clear obsession with achieving importance and in the process also developed an unhealthy mentality whereby he was prepared to lie, cheat, bully and destroy the reputation of his sport. No doubt he WILL suffer the consequences for his horrendous actions.
I am sure many people may disagree with me and feel that Lance Armstrong is just a horrific man who has bought shame to cycling. But I think if we dig down deep enough and ask more questions, we may find his motivations behind his actions may be something we all possess, but without doubt he is a human took a wrong turn and maybe we can find a way somehow to forgive him.
Thanks for reading and feel free to comment or share!