Integrity deficit

I’m not a cycling fan, and I have never worn a “Livestrong” bracelet, so it’s not surprising that I really was not interested in whether Lance Armstrong was guilty of doping. I was not interested in his interview with Oprah admitting his guilt. However, the husband had the news on this morning and I couldn’t help but hear snippets of the interview.

It caught my attention because his words have been repeated many times. Lance Armstrong is the current object of disgrace, but not too long ago it was golfer Tiger Woods. The field is not limited to athletes. Consider the former governor of California, Arnold Schwarzenegger, former presidential candidate John Edwards, and for those of you old enough to remember, former presidential candidate Gary Hart. Go way back in history and you find Israel’s King David with a serious integrity issue when he sleeps with another man’s wife, gets her pregnant, tries to cover it up, and eventually has her husband killed.

In a revealing comment, Armstrong said, “My ruthless desire to win at all costs served me well on the bike, but the level it went to, for whatever reason, is a flaw. That desire, that attitude, that arrogance.”

Armstrong admits that not thinking it was a big deal was scary, not thinking it was wrong even scarier, and not feeling bad about it the scariest.

“There were plenty of other reckless things,” admitted Armstrong. “That would be a very good way to characterize that period of my life.”

Maybe I’m over-simplifying it, but it appears it only takes two steps to remove integrity from our character. The first step is not keeping desires and motives in check and the second step is to justify ones behavior. The two steps keep repeating, each stride lengthening and taking you further and further away from your goals, while you are firmly convinced you are achieving your goals.

Perhaps the deception is the saddest part as Armstrong revealed, “I didn’t know what I had. Look at the fallout.”