By Maria Valdez Haubrich


People all over the world watched as the 33 Chilean miners were rescued from the collapsed cavern that became their home for 69 days. When my husband and I watched the first man emerge from the capsule, we couldn’t help but stare in amazement and admiration for the miners and for the people that pulled together to make the rescue happen. If you were like me, you read everything you could about the men during their captivity and how they were coping with the magnitude of their situation. Here are some lessons I learned from these brave people:
Don’t panic—get organized. The miners understood their situation and got organized so chaos wouldn’t ensue. A leader was designated, sleeping arrangements determined, private rooms and bathroom areas planned out, all so some sort of normal life routine could be maintained. Without organization, you spin your wheels and nothing gets accomplished.
Ask for help. When the catastrophe struck, Chile put the word out they needed expertise from around the world. Smart move. Trying to handle a crisis situation all on your own is never as productive as calling in experts who know how to help.
Keep your head in the game. One of the most interesting aspects of the rescue efforts to me was the emphasis the experts placed on making sure the miners’ psyches, not just their bodies, stayed healthy. Steps were taken to make their time down in the dark as un-stressful as possible. Psychologists from NASA helped them deal with their feelings of isolation and confinement. Mental health can take a bigger toll on your success than even your physical health.
Never lose hope. Seventeen days after the mine collapsed, a drill finally found the chamber where the miners were trapped. From that point on the miners never lost hope they would be rescued—it was just a matter of time. Patience and fortitude will prevail. It’s a good lesson to remember—in business and in life.
What lessons did you draw from the miners’ stories? We’d love to hear your thoughts.