“Sometimes carrying on, just carrying on, is the superhuman achievement.” – Albert Camus 

Resilience is a concept universally understood and deeply valued. It evokes images of strength, endurance, and an unwavering spirit. In every culture, resilience is celebrated as a defining human quality. Persist, “keep calm and carry on,” continue building, and keep growing. It’s a testament to the beauty of the human spirit. 

The Essence of Resilience in Colorado 

Focusing on our own community in Colorado, resilience is an inherent part of our identity. “The West is the best,” as Jim Morrison famously said. But what makes the West so special in terms of resilience? 

Colorado’s ecology is a perfect example. The flora and fauna here have evolved to withstand and thrive under harsh conditions. For instance, mule deer, eagles, and elk must adapt to changing resource availability and high altitudes. The Lodgepole Pine, a tree that only releases its seeds through fire, exemplifies resilience through adversity. Even at 5,280 feet above sea level, humans here develop a unique toughness and endurance. 

Inspirational Figures of Colorado 

The spirit of resilience isn’t limited to nature. The people of Colorado exemplify this trait through their determination to overcome challenges and find innovative solutions. Dr. Justina Ford, the first African-American woman to earn a medical degree in Colorado, faced significant racial and gender discrimination. Despite these barriers, she was dedicated to serving her community and persevered. 

Similarly, astronaut John Herrington, the first Native American to walk in space, has inspired countless individuals to pursue careers in STEM fields. His story is a testament to the power of perseverance and resilience. 

A Modern Symbol of Resilience: Tez Steinberg 

Closer to home, we have Tez Steinberg, a shining example of resilience within our CTLF community. Introduced to triathlons in 2009 to combat depression, Tez’s life transformed. His accomplishments include recognition by the World Economic Forum as one of the “50 Best Young Minds in the World” for his nonprofit work and earning an MBA from London Business School. 

However, in 2016, tragedy struck when Tez’s father took his own life. Despite this, Tez chose to channel his grief into action. He attempted to fund a rowboat race but faced financial hurdles and a heart attack at the young age of 35. Yet, he remained undeterred. 

In 2020, Tez embarked on a solo rowing expedition from California to Hawai’i to raise scholarships for United World College, a global movement that makes education a force to unite people, nations and cultures for peace and a sustainable future. For over 71 days and 2,700 miles, his mantra was,  

“I can quit but not today.”  

He became the first person to row across the Pacific alone from California to Hawai’i with no prior rowing experience. This journey was a success and reinforced to him the incredible resilience of the human spirit. 

The Journey Continues 

Tez’s story didn’t end there. Inspired by his first expedition, he recently completed the world-first solo row from Hawai’i to Australia, 5,000 miles over 126 days. This time his driving mission was to raise awareness and funds to accelerate solutions to combat the ocean plastic he discovered on his first journey through the nonprofit he founded, United World Challenge. He raised over $66,000 and removed over 99,000 pounds of ocean plastic during the journey. His mission and his resilience have made him a beacon of hope and determination.  

“We all have an ocean to cross. And most times our ocean is more mental than anything else. Whatever your goal, cultivating mental resilience is essential. The distance between where you are now and where you want to be is no greater than the space between your ears…Set a goal so big, you have to grow into the person who can achieve it.” – Tez Steinberg 

Reflecting on Resilience in Our Lives 

Not everyone will row across oceans like Tez, but we can all find ways to embody resilience. Will you adapt like mule deer, seeking better resources? Or perhaps your growth will emerge from adversity, like the Lodgepole Pine? No matter how we choose to demonstrate resilience, the key is to persist. Our communities, companies, friendships, and passions flourish when we face challenges head-on.  

Colorado needs changemakers and leaders who are resilient and committed to working together for a better Colorado. Let’s carry the spirit of resilience forward, inspired by the incredible stories from our own Colorado community. Together, we can overcome any obstacle and continue to grow, no matter what paths lie ahead. As Tez would say,  

We can quit…but not today. 

For more on how you can contribute to eliminating ocean plastic and learn more about Tez’s mission, visit United World Challenge.