The Importance of Being Third

July 27, 2009

I’ve been watching the Tour de France every day, and watched

Lance Armstrong

come in third.

I once read an internet forward to the effect that one should always be first, as no one ever remembers who came second in anything.

My own father-in-law also tried to inculcate this value in his children, and in the one grandchild that he dealt a lot with in her formative years…my daughter. I remember him saying, “You must be first..and so far in the lead that the others must be far behind!”

Winning is, obviously a good goal to aim for. To be the best is eminently satisfying.

But often, it’s not important to be first…and it’s very, very important to be third, the way Lance Armstrong came in third in this race.

Lance has won other races..the race with cancer, the race with the media about drug abuse, the race with the falling physical fitness that aging brings.

How many people could win an extremely tough race for seven years? How many could take a break from such a gruelling race for three years, and then come back to get placed third? How many would be cheered in a country where, just a while ago, he was booed as a drug user?

Contador won because he deserved to win, and he has the laurels he worked very hard for. But Lance, whose “Live Strong” campaign started long before this, is…to me…the true winner. Endurance, patience, persistence, the will and the spirit never to give up….those, for me, sum up the indomitable human spirit that Lance Armstrong embodies.

If I do my best, it’s not important where I place in comparison with others…I am a winner to my own conscience. I have given it 100%, and that makes me a winner.

Here’s a sign from a bus stop in St Louis, which gives the Lance Armstrong motto:

ride strong live long cycling 260609

And here’s what I like about a cycle, in general, it’s being said as the sun sets on the Tour de France:

lean clean green machine scenery

In case the words were not clear, here they are:

lean clean green machine sign 260709

So…there’s a lot of greatness in being third…sometimes it’s even more important than being first.