SOFT SKILLS AND RESILIENCE, HERE IS AXEL ALLETRU’S TESTIMONY
Portrait of a multidisciplinary champion with multiple commitments. Testimony of Axel Alletru, former high-level athlete now a successful speaker.
If you liked the article, leave us a comment.
Multiple European champion and vice world champion of junior BMX, the activity of professional motocross, the medals of world champion, and especially in hope in the field of motocross is more intended for me than the activity of speaker that I did not know and that did not hold out arms to me. I was known in the sport and destined to be a high level sportsman until the 2010 world championships when I had my accident in Latvia. Until then, I didn’t look in the rear view mirror. When I woke up and listened to the doctors, I didn’t see myself never walking again, nor playing sports at all. As a paraplegic, I would never walk again.
I decided that I could stand, walk and practice. I became a champion in non valid sports such as swimming afterwards.
In a few words, why do your programs and conferences exist ?
As a professional sportsman I was a member of the BPCE Caisse d’Epargne Team as an Olympic sportsman. I was asked to tell my story as a Paralympian, but I wasn’t interested. If I had to tell my story, I wanted to do so by telling my story, my career, not because of my disability. My way of telling my story, all the resilience that I put into my testimony, what I could say in the BPCE interventions and vice versa, brought to light and gave me the taste for this experience and the desire to tell it, always with authenticity, speaking to everyone regardless of the number and origin of the people in the audience.
I naturally do as if I were talking to each of them for 1h30 or more. And sometimes I get feedback, not always direct, on the change my words cause or the impetus it gives to some. I didn’t have that insight or awareness as a high-level athlete.
Now I have a real confidence that I transmit with a key message that is also in my book. With the conferences “Sans rancune la vie” I transmit the impulse to surpass oneself. After BPCE, I wanted to do this beyond the employees, for more people, it has become a life mission, to be in the sharing, the transmission, with humility and sincerity.
I have the impression that the messages I share can change people on a daily basis. There are sometimes reserved people in the audience, and others who, by listening, dare to tell their story, their doubts, and do so afterwards with confidence.
Since the creation of your activity as a speaker, has your speech/approach changed your view of people and those of the people you meet ?
In my talks at the beginning, I wanted to avoid tackling the subject of disability, because of its taboo side, which makes employees uncomfortable in particular, so I preferred to share my story, my career as an athlete and my passion for sport, my commitment in my career and since my accident in Latvia, without taking the time to think but by putting myself into action to bounce back. Without really talking about disability.
Have the views of your interlocutors on the challenges of professional life changed? What do your conferences create in your audience ?
I like it to be interactive, I intervene and I ask questions, people sometimes intervene or come to see me afterwards. I remember once a company manager who came to tell me that a person in his team had the potential to go beyond his current position but refused or did not dare to take on the new functions that were proposed to him in order to progress. After one of my conferences, the person attended and it was a shock to him.
Some people tell me that they are in their daily life, and I talk to them about the fact that the main thing is not to move away from life, from happiness and that my approach is to be happy. For this person, for example, it had the effect that she said why not me, we only have one life, let’s try. And she has succeeded enormously in this new way. Since the Covid, companies have been looking for this type of intervention, authentic to the life story, my story. Listening is more important.
My audience has not changed, but their intention and need to hear the real thing has. In fact, I have written “The 28 Principles for Bouncing Back”, a book to allow people to share my story and what I have done with it with their loved ones, to help others get through a difficult time (bereavement, accident, layoff, depression, etc.). I have the impression that the people who attend also adhere to this desire to share the message beyond the intervention, in relation to what it triggers in them, whether they tell me about it or not. It’s a way to keep a little bit of that moment and spread it.
According to you, what are the characteristics/skills of a project leader who has gone through personal hardships? Is he/she different from the entrepreneur trained by management, business or engineering schools?
I have always been someone who was into sharing, listening, even when I was world champion, I think the key is to share, to spread the message that everything is possible. I had this capacity to be aware of my body, my limits, my assets, and I shared, I share what I put in place, knowing myself well to work on my rehabilitation and not to remain blocked in front of the walls that the doctors described. Limiting beliefs prevent us from taking action. But there is no time when you have to deal with it. I think you have to say to yourself and act like this: I can’t stay here, give up, accept this. Otherwise, you get into a spiral that doesn’t help.
what mindset have you developed? what aspects have you developed as a result of your situation, in terms of behavior, relationship with people, relationship with professionalism, between your first professional activities (sports)? Do you have the impression that there are two distinct worlds that clash or coexist?
I don’t know if there is a world of the able-bodied and a world of the handicapped as such, but I am surprised since I can use crutches in particular, by the change in the way people look at me and in particular by the “surprise” of people, when I’m on my bike, passers-by see me as an able-bodied person, as a handicapped person in an electric wheelchair or on crutches, it depends, or in a car, according to what I need to do, I can use different modes of transport and I am put in one category or the other. Depending on the situation, I go from a world seen as valid to a world seen as disabled and I am not necessarily expected to be in one or the other. For me, it depends on the travel time, on the practicality, on what it can generate in terms of fatigue or not, it’s mostly logistic. In all cases I remain the same person.
How do you envisage your practices and what are your future objectives?
I am attached to making people aware, and I have the feeling that I have a challenge of transmission to pursue. Sometimes I learn through people that my testimony has had an impact, inspired in a career, allowed to open potentials. It is a life mission to be able to help someone to say that from a trauma or a life incident we can do something. By testifying, I give a little of that and I tell myself that if I had not done so, my silence would have been selfish. I found inspiring people in 2010 when my accident happened, and I had to, I owe it to myself to share what I put into action. I would now like to expand the conferences internationally, in a conference room more than by video but both are possible. Spreading this message is a great challenge for me, I want to take it up.
What words would you like to share with aspiring talents who are carriers or contributors to projects following an incident in life, or who are motivated by these events that change you to make them an asset in their professional trajectory(s)?
People put limiting beliefs on themselves so as not to act, or their entourage, society, conditioning,… I learned by acting that life incidents allow us to refocus, to empty our minds, to listen to this inner voice that says, “and yet I want to do this”, I can now say that we must hear it and say and act accordingly “this is what I want to do, rather than following or apprehending people’s judgement, their gaze, that is not you. To the question, “Are you in your place, in your head?” in relation to the image you have of your possibilities, if the answer is “not yet”, then act.