I was the leader of the team.” – Lance Armstrong to Oprah Winfrey

No you weren’t…you were a toxic bully/coward. But that quote was one of the most commonly uttered phrases in Armstrong’s pathetic attempt to re-direct his manipulation for his gain.

His contrived grovelling before the entertainment high priestess of all things scarred was not an embrace of failure. In fact, its true aspiration was to avoid the embrace of failure. To restore Armstrong’s ego and opportunity. In actuality, it was a cagey, tentative, guarded, defensive, evasive (eg. Andrieus), hair-splitting manoeuvre to revive the Livestrong-fueled dream that so many avid fans cling to.

The embrace of failure needed now is one I have explored extensively…the death of the dreams. The dream of ‘a superhero athlete that cures cancer’ is so powerful that many devotees cling to it fervently despite all indications that he was nothing more than a manipulative cheater whose pious cover got extra lucky with bands of rubber. Anyone who defends Armstrong is basically saying that their principles can be bought off for a high enough contribution to charity. Sanctimonious graft, in essence, based on the age old Faustian rationalization that ‘ends justified the means’ somehow.

Yes, the pseudo-confession will cost him millions, but his conniving gamble is that it is the lowest cost get-out-of-jail option (you know like playing Monopoly where you have the choice of paying $50, using a Chance card or rolling doubles). Out of his $125m amassed fortune, many millions will be left once he pays his penance fine and he will have ‘purchased’ the opportunity to go back to gathering up more millions.

Armstrong’s saga is not just apropos here from the perspective of embracing failure and death of dreams, but it also sheds light on the allied subject of Leadership and Management. Armstrong’s biggest ‘confession’ of the night was that he was ‘the leader.’ A leader of the USPS Team, a leader of Livestrong, a leader of the pack. In reality, Armstrong was nothing more than the worst form of politician. He has ticked all the boxes for Leadership poison…

  • Cheat to win
  • Spread the venom by commandeering accomplices
  • Camouflage with piety
  • Bully people who fight back for principles.

Lots of execs are killing companies and politicians killing countries with a similar modus operandi. Lance only killed a sport at least (or dealt it a near fatal blow). No, Armstrong was neither a leader nor a manager, nor did he embrace failure. All he did is create dream bubbles for millions that now are or should be popping around the world.