The Career Comeback Can Be Tough–Just Ask Lance Armstrong

Lance Armstrong has dedicated his career to winning the Tour de France. As we all know, he showed the world that he could master that race and beat anyone who competed in the “Grand-daddy” of pro cycling races–seven times! After a short “retirement” from the cycling world, Lance has been competing again. Last year’s Tour de France was a warm-up of sorts for Lance as he didn’t have a full year of conditioning and training, nor did he have the team built around him.


So this year is different. This comeback has a new team, Team RadioShack, built from the ground up. The press took no time at all to cast some doubt about Lance’s abilities to compete at 38 years old. The Telegraph in the United Kingdom quoted Lance as saying he “suffered a little bit” at the start of this week’s Tour of Murcia, his first race in five weeks. Lance is the ultimate chess player during every race and in the communications leading up to the race. Rest assured, there will be much planning, training, and strategy coming out of the Team RadioShack camp leading up to this year’s Tour de France.


In your career, you may have had long stretches of similar success. Promotions, visibility, industry leadership. Then, the unexpected. Perhaps a layoff or a merger where you’re position was deemed redundant. Set backs happen to even the best. How you respond to the setback is what sets you apart from others. Take some pages out of Lance’s playbook to ensure a solid career comeback:



Some professionals will play the victim and let this bad attitude bleed into their interviews when asked about the details regarding their departure from the company. When Lance’s own teammate won the Tour de France last year with some questionable tactics regarding teamwork, Lance took the high road. He was able to draw positives from a very respectable result.


Build a Team

Lance has built his success on a strong work ethic, but also leveraging a team mentality. He knows he cannot win a Tour on his own. Throughout his career, he has surrounded himself with highly skilled and knowledgeable teammates and coaches. In your career, are you building a network of people you can count on for support down the road? When set backs happen, these people can be your safety net.


Leverage Your #1 Skill

Early in Lance’s career, he was a triathlete. When cancer treatments destroyed his body, he needed to rebuild. When he did, he focused on coming back with a road cyclist’s body, not a triathlete’s body. In a successful career, you may have taken on many different roles. When you need to recover from a bump in the career path, consider which of these roles has the best chance of bringing you future success. You can then put the most time into promoting and building yourself into the industry leader.


Do Your Homework

Lance is known for riding the actual route of the Tour several times before the actual race. He knows every key feature to the route and plans scenarios well in advance. Are you studying the “terrain” of your industry? Do you know the latest trends and technologies that may impact how success is achieved? Not only are you safe-guarding yourself from obsolescence, but if you are laid-off, you might be one of the first in line or most knowledgeable about an emerging opportunity (like this year’s emergence of Green Products).

Although Lance is a rarity in the cycling world, every sport and industry has leaders. Most of these leaders will tell you that they have had setbacks in their career. How will you turn a setback into the best thing that ever happened to you? If you have the heart of a champion, you will find out.

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