"My pulse is thirty-eight?" I asked as I squinted at the monitor in the oral surgeon's office as I prepared to have my wisdom teeth removed. The medication they were giving me at the time had the side effect of making people speak their mind, so I was a bit more chatty than usual. "Lance Armstrong has a resting heart rate of thirty-five and his heart is one third larger than a normal man's. I must be in good shape."
Armstrong's athletic ability alone is not what makes him an appealing role model, but his work ethic as well. In order to race faster than all of the best cyclists in the world, he knows that he has to train harder than any other cyclist in the world.
While I may not currently possess a world-class ranking in anything, I still believe in the principle of putting in the work in order to get results. I know that if I want to accomplish anything-a personal record on the track, a certain grade on a physics test, or mastery of a piano piece-I have to do the corresponding work.
Armstrong also possesses a certain degree of what some may interpret as arrogance. In truth, Armstrong's outgoing bravado actually reflects a very necessary trait: confidence. Teenagers often downplay their accomplishments and good qualities, in an effort to either appear humble or "fish for compliments". However, the game often goes too far and my peers end up truly believing the negative statements that they once offhandedly tossed around.
I used to fall victim to this cycle as well. I convinced myself of all the things I had no talent at, all of the reasons people should not like me, and all of the dreams I would never reach. But now I know that no one should even consider those thoughts. I now recognize my own achievements and take pride in them, acknowledging my own good character and my abilities and exploiting them so that I can work to my full potential. I have also stopped worrying about whether or not I am being overly conceited, and have found that I am infinitely more successful with confidence on my side.
In 1996, Armstrong found out he had testicular cancer. In normal cases, detected early, doctors can treat the disease with relative ease. However, Armstrong, so accustomed to dealing with high levels of pain, had ignored the symptoms of his illness up until the latest point. When he was diagnosed, PET scans showed cancerous tumors in…