Change or Grow… The choice is yours.
As my classmates and I leave school and re-enter the real world, many of us will be joining new teams and taking on new roles. We will be expected to apply what we learned in school to the goals and aspirations of a new firm. We will report to new leaders, have new collegues and some will manage new groups. In almost every case, we entered school at the top of our respective games and will now be emerging from a two year hiatus with more potential than ability. Much like an athlete emerging from retirement, we must choose to seek past glory or look to the future for new achievement. We have all changed over the past two years, but our opportunity to grow will come as we begin on our new path, and will depend on our ability to understand our circumstances and recognize our limitations as well as our abilities.
On the second page of the Sports Section in Monday’s New York Times, there was a short article about the Giro d’Italia and Lance Armstrong’s role as a support rider. The article mentions Armstrong fetching water bottles for his teammates and riding out in front in mountain stages. It is clear to most that Armstrong will not likely play the support role in July, but his willingness to re-enter the sport as a domestique on a world stage shows his capacity for self-evaluation and commitment to a long-term view of success. His teammates see his efforts as a chance for Armstrong to payback for all the support he had during his push for 7 Tour titles. I see the true spirit of a champion in his efforts and a deep respect for the meritocracy of (clean) cycling, the institution that has given him so much. Lance is once again showing the world how to accept change and grow from it rather than fighting to return to a past that is no longer reality.
Armstrong has a well-documented history of moving forward and growing in the face of adversity. However, I find his role at the Giro to be equally inspiring and to offer a much more tangible lesson in personal growth. My interpretation of the 4th verse in the I Ching tries to capture what Lance is currently teaching with his actions:
CHANGE IS PASSIVE. GROWTH IS ACTIVE. Change will occur but growth must be actively pursued. To grow you must move forward and evolve with awareness of self and of your environment. You must be observant and able to identify sources of trouble disguised by their unfamiliarity. When change causes confusion, grow by delegating responsibility and accepting help but do not neglect your duty to learn from these situations and those who help you. If you do this, you will remain sure of yourself and you will not only change, you will grow.
Lance has ridden a similar route before and I would not be surprised to see him grow into the Maillot Jaune by the time he reaches Paris this year. My hope is that my classmates and I can find inspiration in this example and make the choices that lead to growth and our own Yellow Jersey.