Right now Lance Armstrong is riding in the Tour de France after a three year retirement. Can he win an unprecedented eight Tour de France? We'll know this time next week. What we do know today is that Lance Armstrong has overcome every obstacle, including cancer, to become a symbol of hope and inspiration for millions of people all over the world.
He continues to be a leader and activist on behalf of cancer survivors around the world. The Lance Armstrong Foundation has become among the most influential organizations of its kind and today provides practical information and tools people need to battle cancer and live strong through education, advocacy, public health programs, and research grants.
But none of this would have happened if Lance hadn't made the decision not to quit after he finished dead last in his first professional race in Europe.
Here's the story about how he almost used a plane ticket from Madrid back to the United States. It illustrates in a big way how we should never quit on a dream.
Over time, Armstrong began to focus entirely on cycling. He experienced success in the United States, but he wanted to ride in Europe, where the best athletes competed. HIs first professional race, the Clasica San Sebastian, was memorable. It was a bitterly cold day with pouring rain. He finished dead last, a full twenty-seven minutes behind the winner--a terrible finish. The Spanish crowd lining the course jeered him. He recalled his humiliation:
"A few hours later, I sat in the Madrid airport, slumped in a chair. I wanted to quit the entire sport. It was the most sobering race of my life; on my way to San Sebastian, I had actually thought I had a chance of winning, and now I wondered if I could compete at all. They had laughed at me . . . I pulled a sheaf of unused plane tickets out of my pocket. Among them, I had a return portion to the States. I considered using it. Maybe I should just go home, I thought, and find something else to do, something I was good at."
What carried him through was natural ability, a fiery competitive nature, and an incredibly positive attitude. The words of his mother were constantly in the back of his mind: "Make an obstacle an opportunity. Make a negative a positive. If you can't give 100 percent, you won't make it. Never quit!"
Bill Witcher is co-founder of Computer School for Seniors (http://www.cs4seniors.com/)