A Question of Resilience

Avanza is the result of the coming of minds, of a group of individuals at different stages in life, having different academic backgrounds and professional experiences. But, one thing in common brought us together – a passion for life, for living and for being. Avanza has grown out of the belief that learning takes place when people are passionate about what they do. Passion grows when people genuinely come together to create meaning.

Our time spent together has allowed us to bond, both personally and professionally. Our diversity is our strength and we are driven to engage together so as to provide learning experiences that can make a difference to people’s lives.

“You don’t grow old; when you cease to grow, you are old”

Charles Judson Herrick

It is with this intent that we have decided to set up this Further and Higher Education Institution and start our initiatives with a motivational session involving a world-renowned personality – Alex Zanardi. Zanardi represents values that we uphold and truly believe in – resilience, a belief that life is worth living in spite of adversity; a belief that pain and suffering (and who hasn’t had his fair share of it) can make us mentally stronger. It is an opportunity to share our stories, our narratives.

Our belief in certain attributes/traits such as authenticity, care, commitment, collaboration, dialogue, respect and trust are spearheading all initiatives being designed and introduced by Avanza over the weeks and months to come. They all place the individual and the community at the centre of our discourse.

We aim to focus on issues that we feel are central or should be central to our work practices, such as work-life balance, sustainable development, authentic leadership. Our intent is to focus on purpose and meaning. As people engage in different ways they are asked to question their beliefs and practices. It is only in this way that we can grow.

This evening with Alex Zanardi is all about courage, the will to survive. It is a story about the act of bouncing back, resisting to crack under pressure, to give up on life. Zanardi’s story is about resilience, the process of adapting well in the face of adversity, tragedy.

Today’s session with Alex Zanardi helps us to show that resilience is not for the ‘genetically gifted’ but anyone can train themselves to be more resilient in life. The key, as Southwick (2012) points out is “knowing how to harness stress and use it to our advantage. After all, stress is necessary for growth. Without it, the mind and body will atrophy”.

Zanardi’s experience, whilst unique, helps us to reflect on life and understanding that life is full of challenges. Whilst we cannot avoid them we can learn how to confront them, remaining open, flexible and willing to adapt to change.

By surviving through pain and suffering, we can become mentally stronger. Our ability to adapt to challenge decides how resilient we can be. The power is in you to not only bounce back but to surpass heights you never thought you could achieve before. There is strength in your pain waiting to be cultivated.

“The perfect life is the combination of great moments and bad ones, and under that point of view, my life is fantastic, because I’ve certainly hit more than one bump.”

Alex Zanardi