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Lance Not-So-Strong

January 24, 2013

Lance has been a bad, bad boy (see “You Cheated, You Lied….”).  That’s the summary and the bottom line.  The time spent on analyzing and discussing the entire soap opera could be better used to see what we can learn from it.

There are perhaps many millions of Lances.  Each and everyone of us in some way has Lanced ourselves to a victory.  He is just the most visible, on a grander scale, and on a bigger stage.  If everything happens for a reason, and it does, then perhaps a reason for Lance’s inevitable downfall is an opportunity for us to look at ourselves and the world around us.  Do we cheat and deceive to get the results we want?  If we cheat, we are cheating ourselves and we are cheating others.  We all cut corners in some ways to get the desired result.  We then find ways to rationalize our behavior.  One of our rationalizations, is the “well everybody does it”.  Remember the parental answer is….  “If everybody jumped off the bridge……”

 “We call ourselves ‘products of environment’ forgetting that we are also its producers.”   —   Rabbi Shraga Silverstein

If you acknowledge that we live in an “everybody does it” culture, a culture that values that which isn’t ultimately valuable, then be a part of changing it.

In the movie “Rocky Vl”, the reigning heavyweight champion has all the houses, Bentleys, bling, and entourage and yet his life feels unfulfilled. He visits the first boxing coach he had when he was a boy. Sitting in the old and run down inner-city gym he explained his feelings of emptiness. The coach responded by saying

“You have everything money can buy, except what it can’t.” – From Rocky VI

The world we all want can begin here, and now, and…..It begins with you.

A true champion has the strength and courage to do what’s right and good in all circumstances.  Granted, that is a significant challenge for all of us.  That challenge is the goal we strive for, and strive for and strive for.

“Today’s mighty oak is just yesterday’s nut, that held its ground.” – David Icke

“Everything can be taken from a man but one thing: the last of the human freedoms—to choose one’s attitude in any given circumstances, to choose one’s own way”. – Dr. Viktor Frankl from “Man’s Search for Meaning”

 If a great athlete can persevere all the mental and physical rigors of training, then certainly he/she can resist the temptation to do what is wrong.  That begins with looking at the real underlying desire for being #1.  If it’s primarily for the acclaim and fortune, then with the wrong goal will come some wrong choices.  Like the athlete, when we climb our mountain and experience the struggles, we can get stronger and are better able to resist the temptations to do wrong.

“The beginning is embedded in the end, and the end is embedded in the beginning”. –  Sefer Yetzirah 1:7

“The entire purpose of our existence is to overcome our negative habits.” –  Vilna Gaon

Let’s look at another great athlete and juxtapose his goal versus Lance and/or ourselves

In 1991, Jason Wenning at age 16, set the first of his six world records in disabled swimming. He was born with multiple birth defects and doctors amputated his feet in childhood leaving him with stumps just below the knees.  He also had some deformities in his hands.

When asked why he does it, he said,

“For the simple pleasure of forcing the body and mind I was given to the absolute edge of my capabilities. And when I do, I get for just a moment a vision of the limitless potential of the human race.”

To find and express your purpose in life, you have to be you all the way through and in all that you do.  You can’t be true to yourself if you cheat.  If you have to cheat to win/succeed, then you have entered the wrong race, or for the wrong reason.  If you cheat, you haven’t really won.  If you cheat, we all lose.  Life is a team sport where each of us plays our position to the utmost of our abilities.  Challenge and test your “limitless potential”.

 “The measure of who we are is what we do with what we have.” – Vince Lombardi

 “I do not try to dance better than anyone else. I only try to dance better than myself.” – Mikhail Baryshnikov

 Even if that means not coming in first.

 “Lose with truth and right rather than gain with falsehood and wrong.”  — Maimonides

“Truth is like the sun. You can shut it out for a time, but it ain’t goin’ away.’ – Elvis Presley

We can no longer look to Lance as a hero or role model.  The good news is, if we pay attention, we will see that there are many, many heroes and role models all around us.  People who do the good and right thing because it’s the right and good thing, in all that they do.  We don’t necessarily see them or recognize them.  We may not see them because we don’t place the proper value on the good they do.  We may not see them because the nature of a hero is to do things quietly and humbly.  A true hero doesn’t even realize that he is doing anything extraordinary.  It comes naturally.  The best news is, it’s in all of our natures.

 “Nothing leads to good that is not natural.’ – Friedrich Shiller

Choose your path

“In life there are two paths; the shorter longer way or the longer shorter way.” –  Rabbi Schneur Zalman of Liadi, The Alter Rebbe (1745-1812)




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