A Business Lesson from Lance Armstrong: Quitting vs. Moving On
Is there a difference between quitting and moving on? Perhaps. If the difference is not one of substance but merely one of spin – what we tell ourselves and others so that we can sleep soundly – then it’s personal and therefore nobody else’s concern. If there is a difference, then we should ask Lance Armstrong about it.
I won’t descend into the public judgment plaguing Armstrong’s decision not to continue challenging the US Anti-Doping Agency’s accusations against him. Let nobody who has never had to be blasted by chemotherapy judge how Lance Armstrong treats his own body, much less call him a quitter as Donald Trump did. Fortunately, nobody has the emotional capacity to care about the opinion of a man with hair like that.
Pictured: Donald Trump’s better half, unfortunately accompanied by Donald Trump.
You know what? Forget it. Just forget the seven Tour de France titles. Forget the doping allegations. Hell, forget that Armstrong has even triumphed over death. Forget everything you ever thought about Lance Armstrong and replace it in your memory with one statistic: 500 million.
Say it aloud. Let the sound of the number envelop you. Five hundred million.
That’s how many dollars his Livestrong foundation has raised to combat cancer. Nothing else in his life can erase that statistic. That is his legacy, Mr. Trump, and it is incompatible with my definition of quitting.
Based entirely upon a wealth of presumption and a preponderance of no evidence whatsoever, it is my professional opinion as an attorney that Lance Armstrong feels the same way about quitting as I do – because that is how blog logic (blogic, if you will) works.
So if somebody were to ask Armstrong the difference between quitting and moving on, I think (and therefore know) he’d tell them that quitting is inert. It’s despair. It’s ennui. It’s a failure to even try. Just having a verb – a word that describes an action – to encapsulate the resignation to inaction that defines quitting is brutally ironic.
Quitting isn’t crumbling halfway through the race; it’s never even mounting the bike. Quitting isn’t succumbing to cancer after battering yourself with radiation; it’s curling up into a ball and hiding from the diagnosis. Quitting isn’t starting a business and watching it collapse in on itself; it’s not even applying for the loan to start it.
Moving on is fighting persistently and then facing the reality that you can’t fight forever. It takes wisdom to realize when that time is and maturity to accept it gracefully. There’s not an ounce of shame inherent in it.
It’s not easy when you’ve always been a fighter but whether your company is hemorrhaging money or your body is hemorrhaging life, at some point you must simply move on to something else. In a struggling business, an owner thinks, “One more month, one more month and I can turn this around.” In a hospital bed, it’s the “Do not go gentle” mantra that’s repeated. Both have a place; both have a cost; and both have a down side at the end. I’ve seen both lately and you don’t forget it when you do.
You think Armstrong is going to lie down and quit altogether just because people think he cheated at racing bicycles? He’s already given four different kinds of cancer a black eye, along with 500 million jabs to think about. So on behalf of my friends in hospital beds, I have only one thing to say to Lance Armstrong: Thank you!
Here’s to 500 million more and never quitting – only moving on.
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