For those of us who have never been trapped in a mine like that, we can't even begin to appreciate what those men must have felt. Moreover, I suspect, that events like this have the capacity to change our world - and maybe, that's the point. That's why this story has something for us all.
And, no doubt, during the coming weeks, months, and yes, years, we'll learn more about what those men, and in different ways, their families too, endured while "the 33" were at first seemingly beyond all hope of rescue, cut off from humanity, in the bowels of the earth of the San Jose gold and copper mine in Chile.
When the Ordinary Becomes Extraordinary
Yet while like probably billions of others, while following how the drama unfolded, I've been reminded, yet again, of how seemingly ordinary people anywhere, when the desire for something becomes overwhelming, have the capacity to become extraordinary! People have amazing potential.
From 33 miners, each with their own individual personalities, strengths and weaknesses, would I can only imagine, become transformed during their 2 months and 9 days imprisonment "in hell". Maybe even their brain chemistry has been permanently changed as a result: only time will tell.
With no way to look out and faced with the likelihood of their own mortality, not surprisingly, they started to look in, and perhaps the stresses of their sudden unwelcome situation, helped build bonds that will last for a lifetime.
Certainly, there's something disturbingly visceral, primitive, almost primeval, about the thought of being trapped hundreds of meters underground, in a cavern, for months: cut off from the real world and natural daylight. In such extreme circumstances, I wonder, does our "ancient DNA" somehow get triggered or be "remembered"? And if so, what does that do the modern human mind?
One thing is for sure: certainly, a clamor of emotions must have been felt, including:
- Of shock and disbelief.
- Of despair.
- Of initial acceptance of death.
- Of loss of control and the apparent removal of choice as to how they lived their lives.
- Of thinking about loved ones.
- Of assessing the value of a life well lived.
- Of wishing how if you could have just one more chance, you would have lived your life differently.
- Of regret.
- Of thinking about lost opportunities.
- Of the value of the ordinary, the things we take for granted: light, fresh air, a soft bed, enough to eat and drink.
- Of acceptance.
- Of knowing that you have done the best that you could have done.
- Of the need for leadership, support and role models.
- Of understanding what makes each individual "tick".
- Of having the courage to make necessary leadership adjustments to help someone endure when their mood may have dropped, or plummeted, because in your heart, you believe you know what is best for them at that particular time, even when such actions are almost guaranteed to make you unpopular.
- Of refusing to give in to the darkness.
- Of the ties that bind and the testing of those ties.
- Of choosing to invent or accept a new kind of order, rather than submit to the chaos of "the dark side".
- Of elation that comes with discovery: the difference that a human face can make when it slowly glides in front of the lens of a camera that reaches far down a pilot shaft.
- Of how a simple note can change everything: "Estamos bien en el refugio los 33," "All of us are well inside the shelter".
- Of hope renewed.
- Of working together and learning how to get along.
- Of teamwork and resolve and planning and persistence and staring at a goal that was seemingly impossible, yet committing to do it anyway.
- Of hope renewed from a different perspective.
- Of pooling resources.
- Of doing battle with 700,000 tons of rock, and winning.
- Of kinship and the power of a strong, shared vision.
- Of never, never, never giving up.
- Of how patient competence wins over the desire of now.
- Of the realization that things have changed for ever.
- Of our basic human need for heroes.
- Of the simple wonder of life, of light, the natural world and emotional power of reconnection to the human family.
- Of the perhaps shocking reminder and realization that all humans are ultimately related.
The Hope Virus Unleashed
Yet even amid all of these conflicting emotions, one thing stands out: the hope virus. Hope is one of those words that is hard to grasp. What I mean is, although we can understand what hope means, it's a word that has no definite answer, and that's the problem.
Hope is like trust: you just don't know if it will deliver, and that's unsettling. We like surety don't we? We want definites, not maybes. Yet while hope is "slippery", that's the same reason why it is also contagious. Perhaps the same hope felt by millions - or billions - at the same time has a power all of its own that, as yet, we simply do not really understand.
Maybe the brain waves of millions of people aligned or thinking in a certain way can influence, or can actually affect or alter an outcome. Maybe, we all need each other more than we realize. While that may seem the stuff of science fiction, remember, we live in a quantum Universe: there's a lot going on "under the hood" that we're still working out.
What is astonishing is that as the rescue of these miners played out, around the world, I suspect that billions of people took an almost personal interest, even though, to most, these miners were strangers. Yes, you could say that is the power of the media "cooking up a story", but I think there is something deeper going on. Perhaps human bonds, even with apparent strangers, are stronger than we may at first think. Perhaps that even in times of adversity, most people are not just thinking of "me, me, me".
Folks from all around the world hoped for a good outcome to this epic: that's a true hope virus. Perhaps emotionally identifying with these miners also helped put our bleeding economies during recessionary times into some kind of perspective. That compared with what these men and their families were suffering, our economic woes were but a trifle in comparison.
Perhaps the strongest driver that allowed people everywhere to connect with these 33 trapped miners, is the simple understanding we have about light and darkness - the two polar opposites. About how we can intuitively sympathize with the feeling of being "trapped in the dark", or about the feeling that comes with sudden loss of control; or of involuntary confinement; and ultimately of the shared acceptance of our own mortality.
Even though we couldn't truly understand what these miners were going through, we could instantly, put ourselves in their place and try to imagine. But unlike "the 33", our freedom was always easily achieved: just a different thought away - usually set in motion when the original vision of "the hell of the 33" comparison becomes too uncomfortable for us to picture.
What Can The Heartfelt Story of "The 33" Teach Us as Entrepreneurs, Website Builders, Marketers, Writers, and Small Business Owners?
What I can learn from the remarkable and astonishing story of the 33 Chilean miners who "came back from the dead" is quite a few things, including:
- The obvious one: how life is simply precious. I knew that before, but now it is a belief that has a more poignant understanding.
- How time is something to cherish.
- How we should do all we can every day to move ever closer to our goals.
- Why we shouldn't waste what we have.
- A reminder that human beings really can do amazing things when sufficiently motivated. When a course of action and resolve are combined, the result is surely an unstoppable force!
- How positive thinking and a "Yes You Can!" attitude are vital components in dealing with goals (and setbacks) that seem "bigger than us", and especially when "Our backs are to the wall".
- Why we should persist and never give up (by all means, change direction if we have to, but keep pushing forward).
- Why just because two paths haven't worked out, it doesn't mean the third path can't score hugely!
- People are amazing!
So something to consider dear reader as we send our heartfelt best wishes to the 33 and their families as they are able to live again, and learn to adjust to new conditions.
Some things really are so momentous that they change things for ever. With that in mind, remember, "Yes You Can!" And why not unleash your own "hope virus" starting today? It's your life, and that's a big deal!