Poor old Lance Armstrong has been all over the news lately. But let’s put aside our feelings for the man, and look at the important corporate lessons the Lance Armstrong scandal brings to the forefront that can improve anyone’s career.
Look At the Big Picture
I’ll spare preaching you the importance of honesty, ethics, and taking ownership for your actions. We all know this. That’s the reason for the outrage. But besides the obvious, one key takeaway from the Lance Armstrong scandal is the importance of looking to the big picture.
In fact, many of Armstrong’s defenders urge the public to do just that in regards to Lance. Many argue that his drug use doesn’t even come close to negating the good of his philanthropic efforts, Livestrong organization, or work as an advocate for cancer.
All the same, it was Armstrong’s narrowed focus and “ruthless desire to win at all costs” that got him into this mess in the first place. Without considering the repercussions of his actions, he used illegal performance-enhancing drugs, and what may be even worse, denied it for 13 straight years.
Had Armstrong remembered at least at one point during the past 13 years the importance of looking to the big picture he would have been able to mitigate, if not completely eliminate, the problems he is facing today.
We all have heard every HR person’s favorite phrase: “people need to have work-life balance!” What this really means is that perspective is important. Keep your goals in mind when you make a decision. Ask yourself what you really want in life, and decide if that action will help or hurt your progress there. Do you want complete projects on-time and on-budget with minimal micromanagement? Well then, try a project management software. Do you want to be a world-famous athlete, role-model, and health advocate? Well………
You get the point.
Focus on What’s Important
Remember Pareto’s Principle, and ask yourself whether this is part of the 80% or 20%. Is it really necessary for you to work through lunch to finish that extra project? Or would it be more worthwhile to go out to eat with a client (or boss!). Sometimes when we focus too much on short-term progress we make decision that will actually hurt us. Likewise, when we get too caught up on the minutiae of the day-to-day we can find ourselves ten years later in a place we never wanted to be.
Remind yourself of the overall goals of a project you’re working on. Refer to the goals and make sure your actions are still in alignment. Even more broadly, keep your life goals in mind. Don’t waste 80 hours a week at an investment banking job, if what you really value is relaxing at home with your family.
Making decisions with perspective to the big picture and your individual goals make you happier. And guess what? Studies suggest this happiness can lead to an increase in productivity, and likewise, wage. So despite the huge publicity you could get from making a mass apology on Oprah, instead heed to these life lessons and reap the rewards of Lance’s errors for your own benefit.
Image credit, Cain and Todd Benson, Flickr