Many years ago I heard of a city called Modena. It is found in north-central Italy and is about three times the size of Victoria. You may have heard of it. It is remarkable because of the automobile industry. The factories of Ferrari, De Tomaso, Lamborghini, Pagani and Maserati are (or were) located there at one time.
All of these companies are headquartered nearby, with the exception of Lamborghini. In fact, the Ferrari 360 Modena is named after the city. If you’re not a car lover, but rather a foodie, you might have heard of Modena because of the balsamic vinegar.
None of these reasons was why I read about Modena. I read about Modena because of the city’s motto in a business article about customer service. Since then, I’ve (literally) pondered this city motto every morning for at least a decade.
The city motto is Avia pervia. Avia means “difficult times” and pervia means “easy to walk”. Thus, the motto means, “(let) the difficult paths (make) easy to walk.” For me, this is a leadership mandate and part of the reason I make sure to see this motto every morning.
A deep understanding of this phrase is a humbling experience. I have never met another human being who does not think he is walking a difficult path; 100% will tell if you ask. Difficult means many different things to many different people. When I look at this sentence, it reminds me that everyone walks a different and difficult path today and my job is to make that path a little easier to walk if I can. I have this motto written in marker on a mirror that I look at every morning (therefore, I think about it), and most evenings as well. It has become one of my most profound personal and leadership maxims.
It’s not just about leadership; it also applies directly to teaching. Sometimes learning can be a difficult path for students. Making difficult paths easy for students to navigate is an hour-by-hour, student-by-student pursuit of continuous improvement and adaptability. Each interaction with each student is an opportunity to discover new difficulties and find new ways to make those difficult paths a little easier to navigate. It is an opportunity to connect, to create a sense of security and to establish a common future.
These three elements form an unbreakable bond with another human being. It takes a servant’s heart. I appreciate how the phrase honors the person walking the path and their choice on the difficult path they choose to follow. We all know people who seem to make things harder for themselves than necessary, and that phrase doesn’t mean we rush and put them on a different path by controlling them, but just helping them on the path they are on. find. I love this.
This idea does not only apply to teachers, but easily applies to anyone who works, as many of us work with others.
This has organizational implications. If a website is difficult for someone to navigate, why not make that path a little easier to navigate? If it’s hard to find information, why not make that path a little easier?
There are endless organizational applications for this phrase. The article I read many years ago described the difficult path that customer service is in most places. Making this path easier to walk is worth it.
Without a doubt, this is an area that we can all develop.
This motto has helped me to be a better teacher, a better leader, a better parent, a better friend, a better spouse and a better person. Avia pervia, a path of continuous improvement.
Quintin Shepherd is the Superintendent of the Independent School District of Victoria.