Every second counts

It was great to see Lance Armstrong win his sixth Tour last month!

Recently my wife picked up Lance’s second book, Every Second Counts. I’ve read his first book, It’s Not About the Bike: My Journey Back to Life
, and enjoyed it–felt like I got to know the person not just the sports icon. All told round trip I had a half day to kill in the air traveling to Nashua, NH this week–plus my wife recommended her purchase to me; so, I read Every Second Counts at 34,000 feet. It’s a fairly easy, relatively quick read during which the following points are noted:

  • What it [the Tour de France] teaches is this: pain is temporary. Quitting is forever. Later in the book, Lance details this sentiment in a bit more detail: The real reward for pain is this: self-knowledge. If I quit, however, it would have lasted forever, that surrender, even that smallest act of giving up, would have stayed with me for the duration [of the final mountain stage of the 2000 Tour]. When you feel like quitting, you had to ask yourself which you would rather live with.
  • My illness [cancer] was also my antidote: it cured me of laziness.
  • Cancer survivor Sally Reed: My house is burned down but I can see the sky.
  • Lee Walker: Schedule is how we make out intentions manifest in the world.
  • How you behave in those moments [of loss] can perhaps be more self-defining than winning could ever be. Sometimes losing shows you for who you really are. I also appreciated Kik Armstrong’s perspective on the example a parent sets to his child during a loss–how incredibly important and honorable setting the right example of handling failure graciously is.
  • Kik’s following remark to Lance reminded me that it all too easy for me to get wrapped up in my thing forgetting that my wife has her thing too: Wherever my strength comes from [i.e. Catholic faith], you should be happy for it. Because you rely on me a lot, so you rely on that strength.
  • Spanish: Miramos, esperamos, decidimos, atacamos. English: Let’s see, let’s wait, let’s decide, and then attack.
  • If you want to do something great, you need a strong will and [sustained, focused] attention to detail.
  • A far more difficult test of endurance than a bike race is how you handle the smaller, common circumstances of your days, the more mundane difficulty of trying to make your life work.
  • If you truly invest yourself [i.e. make a longer-term commitment that’s not shallow or ephemeral] in a team, you guarantee yourself a [long-term] return on your investment, and that’s a big competitive advantage over other less-committed teams [i.e. ones that spend themselves rather than investing themselves].
  • The definition of a team is a group of people who share the share aim, experience and values.
  • Anyone who imagines they can work alone winds up surrounded by nothing but rivals, without companions. The fact is, no one ascends alone.

Update 12/1/2008: For more of my book reviews and to see what else is in my book library (i.e. just the business-related or software-related non-fiction therein), please visit my Books page.