If you were anywhere near a television, search engine or coffee shop last week you heard about Lance Armstrong’s interview and his confession about using performance enhancing drugs and blood transfusions to improve his Tour de France results and win seven times.
Now I’m not going to choose sides in a debate, but instead I’d like to open a dialogue about making amends. Whether it’s about making amends with yourself or others, the reasons must be genuine or it doesn’t benefit anyone. Calculated amends for self-serving reasons is not the same as genuinely asking for forgiveness.
I am a huge advocate for self-care and self-compassion when it comes to living an emotionally and physically healthy life. I truly believe your lies will catch up with you at some point and I have experienced the pain and suffering that inauthentic behavior causes us and other people. I openly admit to being the giver as well as the receiver of that suffering. As part of a 12-step recovery program, you are encouraged to make a list of the people you have harmed and make amends. Apologies are an important part of the process, but for the long term, amends are about a genuine change in behavior rather than the immediate act of an apology. A new way of life is required to live in rigorous honesty for many addicts. When we are honest we are completely present and real. When we tell the truth there is tremendous freedom in that.
Another aspect of the Lance Armstrong story that sticks with me is the idea of who we put on pedestals. We can have a tendency to believe athletes are better than they are – they are not human, they are gods. Lance was a god in the cycling world because of his success, his cancer recover, and his creation of the Live Strong foundation. He did a lot of good with his brand, but unfortunately it was built on a shaky foundation. Now, in order for it to continue to thrive, he had to remove his name from its good work. His lies had a ripple effect and I am sure we can only see a small portion of how many people have and will be affected by it.
Lance’s story, as disappointing as it may be from an outsider’s perspective, is a good lesson for all of us. There’s a difference between lying to protect someone and lying to move our careers or our lives forward at the expense of others. When someone finally tells the truth and asks for forgiveness it should not be a calculated amends. It should not be for selfish gain. If you’ve ever had a colleague take credit for your work you know how that feels. The trust is gone. It will take a lot to rebuild it and we can give people a second chance and not hold resentments, and yet, something has taken place that breaks an emotional bond that will need mending.
Approach your life, your relationships and your contribution to the world with genuine honesty and care. You’ll be amazed at how many people you help along the way and how much richer your life will be.
Love and blessings,