Like a Phoenix

We’ve all got origin stories and some of those come with overcoming great adversity.

You’ll find across the world different images used to rep that.

For example…

The image of a phoenix is many times used as a symbol for overcoming adversity.

From research days I delved into PTSD (post traumatic stress disorder) and then PTG (post traumatic growth). The focus of the research was upon the expierence of three generations of families in the context of the forced removals and return to District Six, South Africa during an apartheid and post apartheid South Africa.

Interviews were conducted with families (+my own). The first year used PTSD as an interpretive framework and laid a foundation for further fasincating work into PTG (Post Traumatic Growth).

Reminds me of Seligman who first studied learned helplessness and then later went into learned optimism and then some.

Over weeks and months many narratives were shared which were raw, filled with emotion and authentic.

There was one thread that kept ringing consistently....

The remarkable capacity to grow through adversity…over time.

One of the most powerful intergenerational interviews was with a centurion (100 years old). Father who had been foricebly removed and was now returning to District Six.

I’ll never foget the depth of widsdom he brought to that interview…especially his gesture at the end of the interview.

My supervisor at the time guided that as a gratuity token to provide a small monetary donation to each interviewee - a small token of appreciation. At the end of the interview when it was time to give him the token of apprection, he smiled and placed it on his shelf and said "I’ll keep this a reminder of when you graduate."

I also interviwed his daughter whom ended up becoming neighbours for many years in District Six.

This is where the torch was passed…

She phoned me one day and expressed that her experience of post traumatic growth was:

"Like a phoenix rising out of the ashes".

We’ve all got origin stories, that phoenix ready to emerge and re-emerge.

What’s your phoenix right now? That is - your opportunity to grow?


How will this make you a better student of potential?

More 'Phoenix', More POTENTIAL.



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