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All glory is fleeting

Tom Wall Published on 28 June 2013

I’m not a big cycling guy, so I never really followed the Tour de France. But I love to see people overcome adversity and achieve greatness.

So, like many people, I admired Lance Armstrong’s courage to beat cancer, and I paid attention to his cycling career. Year after year, I wanted Armstrong to get the yellow jersey and win the Tour.



And until last fall, I truly wanted to believe that Lance Armstrong legitimately won each of his seven consecutive Tour de France titles. But last year, the truth came out: Armstrong cheated. And as the saying goes, cheaters never win.

Well, actually that’s not completely true. Cheaters often do win. It’s just that their victories are typically short-lived. And in the case of Armstrong, his winning streak came to a shameful end.

Last October, he was stripped of all seven titles and banned from the sport for life; his sponsors walked away from their endorsement contracts, and he is no longer the chairperson of his own charity, Livestrong.

Although he made it to the top of his profession, his “success” will forever be tainted by his dishonesty.

So here’s my question … If someone would’ve asked you in 2002 to predict where Lance Armstrong would be in 2013, is this the ending you would have guessed?


No, Lance Armstrong’s story of incredible success and subsequent failure is nothing new. There have been countless “success stories” that have sad endings since the beginning of time.

So why do you think that is? Whether it’s a person, a company, or a nation, what makes the “mighty” fall?

If I had to choose just one word to explain why the mighty often fall, without a doubt, I’d pick the word hubris.

Sure, some successful people and businesses fail as a result of poor strategy, poor execution and poor timing. But often, it seems that many people’s very own success becomes their tragic downfall.

As one success leads to another, many winners seem to forget how they got to the top. Eventually they become arrogant, out-of-touch and complacent.

In the final scene of the movie “Patton,” four-star general George S. Patton is seen walking with his dog after being removed from his command of the U.S. Third Army. The movie ends with the following dialogue …


“For over a thousand years, Roman conquerors returning from the wars enjoyed the honor of a triumph – a tumultuous parade.

In the procession came trumpeters and musicians and strange animals from the conquered territories, together with carts laden with treasure and captured armaments. The conqueror rode in a triumphal chariot, the dazed prisoners walking in chains before him.

Sometimes his children, robed in white, stood with him in the chariot or rode the trace horses. A slave stood behind the conqueror, holding a golden crown and whispering in his ear a warning – that all glory is fleeting.”

Whether you find yourself enjoying the view from the top, or you’re struggling to pick yourself up from the bottom, the reality is that nothing lasts forever.

And although you might have a lot of “still-frame snapshots” of success, your life’s story is more like an “ever-changing filmstrip.”

Regardless of where you’re at today, where do you predict you’ll be in the next 10 years? Will you stay grounded as you climb to the top, or will you let hubris bring you down?

Take a look at what you’re doing right now. Is it working? If it’s not, do you have what it takes to start making changes? Hopefully it’s not too late to rewrite the ending of your success story. Live strong. PD


Tom Wall
Dairy Coach
Dairy Interactive, LLC