Last month, Lance Armstrong took the beat down of the year after the U.S. Anti-Doping Agency published a 1,000-page report alleging Armstrong organized an elaborate doping scheme.
From a branding and career perspective, many are saying that this is it for Armstrong. He was stripped of his seven Tour de France titles, lost many of his sponsors, and resigned from Livestrong.
Well, time will only tell if Armstrong will bounce back from this controversy. But for everyone on the outside, Armstrong has provided an ideal opportunity to dissect some career lessons. Now I’m not trying to kick him when he’s down, but from every mistake there is a lesson to be learned.
Lets all take a step back and consider the following lessons from Lance Armstrong.
Dishonesty has a way of resurfacing.
Obviously, I don’t know if Armstrong is truly guilty of the doping scheme. But I’d say that someone has been dishonest somewhere in their career — whether that’s Armstrong himself or any of his confidants. Regardless, dishonesty has a way of creeping up on you. And that’s why we should all avoid being dishonest.
When cultivating your personal brand (or any brand), the point is to gain an employer’s interest and trust in what your brand offers and represents. Dishonesty on your resume, cover letter, referrals, or on the job can ruin your chances of working with that employer ever again. This unfortunately holds true for Armstrong in his cycling career and with his involvement in Livestrong.
Know when enough is enough.
After the doping scandal surfaced, Armstrong had a choice to make. He could either give in to the allegations or go to arbitration, which would have meant a hearing for witnesses to testify for or against him. Armstrong chose the former of the two options.
He was quoted in saying, “There comes a point in every man’s life when he has to say, ‘Enough is enough.’”
In our careers, we’ll be confronted with situations that consume our days, such as feisty clients, difficult coworkers, unethical job situations, or failing business proposals. Just as Armstrong said, we have to know when to say “enough is enough” and move on.
Remember that the past can’t be changed.
It’s easy to become discouraged among layoffs, demotions, and poor career choices. But don’t forget that the experiences you’ve gained in past jobs cannot be taken away from you. If you have a great personal brand with solid experiences under your belt, you can bounce back.
Armstrong was quoted in the New York Times stating, “I know who won those seven Tours, my teammates know who won those seven Tours…Nobody can ever change that.” In all honesty, he’s right. Particularly with his work at Livestrong. This brand may be shaken now, but because of the strong foundation Armstrong provided in the past, it will likely live on and “live strong.”
For now, Lance Armstrong seems to be moving on to greener pastures. But the real lesson for all of us is this: Career blunders are bound to happen — but how we react that will set the tone for our career comeback.
What other lessons did you take from Lance Armstrong’s doping blunder?
Heather R. Huhman is a career expert, experienced hiring manager, and founder & president of Come Recommended, a content marketing and digital PR consultancy for organizations with products that target job seekers and/or employers. She is also the author of Lies, Damned Lies & Internships (2011), #ENTRYLEVELtweet: Taking Your Career from Classroom to Cubicle (2010), and writes career and recruiting advice for numerous outlets.