Goals That Bypass Success

Lance Armstrong rode into history Sunday by winning the Tour de France for a record sixth time, an achievement that confirmed the cancer survivor as one of the greatest sportsmen of all time. President Bush called Lance Armstrong on Sunday to congratulate him on a sixth straight Tour de France title. “You’re awesome,” Bush told Armstrong. President Bush “congratulated him on behalf of the nation, and told him his country was proud of him and that he was an outstanding athlete.” We all wish for this kind of spectacular success – or do we?

In the movie The Bridge on the River Kwai, the lead character is Colonel Nicholson, a prisoner of war. Nicholson was directed by his Japanese captors to build a bridge. Being an officer dedicated to excellence and well trained to complete any mission he set his mind to, Nicholson led his men in building a beautiful bridge. But by the end of the movie he finds himself in the painful position of defending the bridge from destruction by fellow officers who want to destroy it to prevent Japanese trains from using it. He was so focused on the goal – even under enemy control – that he lost sight of the larger mission of helping his country win the war.

I love having goals and see what it can do to transform results in people’s lives. But a goal obsession can blur our view of a larger mission. As Lance Armstrong held his trophy high over his head Sunday, he said, “This is more important than anything.” That appears obvious. His former wife Kristin still lives in Texas and did not respond to interview requests from The Associated Press. Probably busy taking care of Lance’s three children, Luke, aged 3 and the twins, Isabelle Rose and Grace Elisabeth, not yet 1. My own son was a professional bicycle racer – we know what winning requires. But if Kevin had raised the trophy yesterday in Paris and along the way opted out of being “daddy” to my six grandkids – I’d grab the trophy and melt it down as a paperweight.

I continually stress that “success” involves more than just career and finances. The next promotion, the next financial home-run, the next athletic victory, cannot be justified if other areas in your life get trashed. Don’t let any one goal deter you from ultimate “life success”.

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