Yesterday the Tour de France finished on the Champs-Élysées in Paris.
Like all sports, cycling has a book of official written rules. But cycling also has unwritten rules. These unwritten rules are about the sportsmanship of the competition. The unwritten rules honor the traditions of the sport. They are known and understood by the individual riders, the riders’ teams, and the event organizers. The unwritten rules are very much a part of the sportsmanship and traditions of the Tour de France.
Life also has unwritten rules that we all tend to follow.
Families have unwritten rules that they follow.
The workplace has unwritten rules that you are expected to follow.
To willingly follow the unwritten rules is to live with integrity.
Unwritten rules honor traditions and play the game (or live life) with sportsmanship.
I enjoy seeing good sportsmanship at the end of a tough competition.
Here are four examples of sportsmanship and the honoring of tradition from yesterday’s Tour de France final stage – and the corresponding life lessons.
- Pacing. The tour is three weeks of grueling competition. At the start of the final stage of the tour, the winner is already known. The first three-quarters of the race is completed at a leisurely pace. The winners pose for photographs while riding. There is lots of friendly talk and laughter amongst the riders who’ve competed hard against each other for three full weeks. Mutual respect is paid. The final stage is paced. It’s a celebration.
- Team over individual. The team whose rider wears the yellow jersey is traditionally honored with the privilege of being allowed to ride first on to the Champs-Élysées. Sky, the team with yellow jersey wearer Bradley Wiggins, did ride first on to the Champs-Élysées. The other teams paid tribute to the winner.
- Honoring Individual’s Legacies. The Tour always has many past champions at the finish lines of individual stages. Those who came before are honored. Knowing those who came before, their accomplishments, and their legacies is part of being a professional cyclist. This year, the retiring George Hincapie was honored for competing in his seventeenth Tour – a Tour record. Hincapie was allowed to take a turn at the front of the peloton on the Champs-Élysées.
- Finish Strong. While most of the day feels like a celebration, the finish of the race is still serious business. The leisurely pace ends. The celebration is temporarily halted. Honorees are forgotten. As the riders complete their eight laps on the Champs-Élysées, the friendly atmosphere gives way to the competition – all have a desire to win. The riders finish strong.
It occurs to me that these four examples of sportsmanship and honoring traditions mirror daily living.
- Pacing. We pace ourselves each day. We alternate between competing hard and pacing ourselves through our journey of life. We regularly take the time to celebrate.
- Team over individual. We achieve more when we place team success over our own individual glory. When our team (or family or workplace) succeeds, our individual accolades naturally follow.
- Honor those who’ve come before us. We honor those who have come before us – grandparents, parents, founders, heroic individual contributors. We honor those who are great when with us – mentors, leaders. And we honor those who leave us better because of their contribution – spouses, children, coworkers, teammates.
- Finish Strong. We run across the finish line daily. We never give up. We cross the line with pride, determination, and a sense of self-satisfaction. We finish strong because it’s the right thing to do.
To do so is living with integrity.
To do so honors tradition.
To do so shows good sportsmanship.
Do you follow the unwritten rules of living a good life?
Are you a good sport?
Do you regularly honor the traditions of your world?
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Next Blog Date: July 26, 2012