The Chilean Trapped Miners: What can they and their rescue teach us about our life?

The Chilean Trapped Miners: What can they and their rescue teach us about our life?

Chilean Trapped Miners

What Can the Chilean Miners Teach Us?

What does the near epic tale of the Chilean trapped miners – underground since August 5th – have to do with you and your day-to-day life?  A lot actually.  Their story is one of unexpected events, hope, fear, uncertainty and triumph; probably words that you and I could use to describe parts of our lives too.

For the Chilean trapped miners, their underground ordeal included:

  • 17 days in isolation where the world did not know if they were dead or alive and the miners did not know what the world was doing to rescue them, if anything.
  • Even if the trapped miners were alive, nobody knew exactly where they would be.  As it turns out, the Chilean mine was a honeycomb maze and there were no accurate maps.
  • Not knowing where exactly to drill, the senior planner came up with three different plans to rescue them – Plans A, B and C.
  • No one had ever drilled so far to reach trapped miners.  This was an unparalleled rescue.
  • The first shaft drilled to reach the trapped miners missed the tunnel and refuge where they stayed.  It was so close; they could hear the drill pass them by.
  • Even after a lifeline shaft reached the miners, it took another 52 days for the rescue to happen.
  • They spent 69 days trapped underground – the longest underground entrapment ever – by a long shot
  • NASA psychologists were called in to help the miners deal with the tremendous mental aspect of their entrapment
  • Most of Chilean miners are working on book, endorsement and move deals.  Did anyone notice that they were all wearing the same model of Oakley sunglasses? (nice job Oakley)

The Chilean miners taught us to never miss an opportunity

Sure, we talk a lot about living every day as if it is our last – that’s almost a proverb.  But do we do it?  How many of the miners kissed their wives goodbye that morning before going to the mine.  How many held their children and told them that they loved them and that they were the best thing in the world.  How many had unresolved arguments or disagreements over petty things.  How many of the Chilean miners expected the events of August 5th to unfold the way they did?  It’s so easy for all of us to go about our daily lives, with all the distractions, concerns, headaches and stresses and miss out on the truly most important things.  What happened at the mine in Chile is a gift to all of us.  It’s the gift that reminds us of our mortality and reminds us to play bigger in life – Every Day.  A friend of mine, my age, was just diagnosed with cancer – for the second time.  That makes me think.  And it spurs me approach my day with joy, hope, passion and urgency.

The Chilean trapped miners taught us that sometimes things in life aren’t going to look the way we think they will

Nobody thought what happened on August 5th was going to happen.  Nobody thought the day was going to end the way it did.  I can’t imagine that any of the miners truly thought that something like this could ever happen to them.  But that’s the way things are in life more often than not.  How often do things happen in your lives that are unexpected?  And more importantly, how do you react and what do you do about them.

The trapper miners were proactive and provided guidance to the surface for rescue efforts … they didn’t play the role of helpless victim.  They thought about where the rescuer’s might look for them and made sure that was where they were.  Even when the first drill came agonizingly close but missed their tunnel, they didn’t succumb to despair.  They established a hygiene and fitness regime; which is why after being underground in cramped quarters for 69 days they emerged in remarkably good condition.  Leaders emerged and they all worked together to buoy each other’s spirit.

Even before the first Chilean miner’s emerged from their entrapment, the book, endorsement and movie deals were already flying and – good for them.  Events like this galvanize humanity and show us more our similarities than our differences.  Undoubtedly, it was rough to say the least for the miners.  Their story is a feel good story of human triumph and our world certainly can always use more of those.  If the Chilean miner’s can make a great living off of that, all the better.  I hope they do.

Hope, fear, uncertainty and triumph; probably words that you

and I could use to describe parts of our lives too.


The rescuers of the trapped Chilean miners taught us that failure is the fastest path to success

When the man who would eventually affect the rescue of the miners arrived onsite soon after the mine collapse, what he found was an uncoordinated effort by multiple drills to reach the miners.  What he also found is that the mine had turned into a honeycombed maze and there were no accurate maps of the mine.  He methodically interviewed the last miners who escaped from the tunnel during the cave in to determine where the remaining survivors had been.  Then, he looked at the maps and talked with other miners to figure out where the trapped miners might go.  Even then, he wasn’t sure where the miners would be.  And isn’t this EXACTLY like life.  How often are we absolutely sure about anything?  How often do we wait because of our unsureness and miss great opportunities?  In the case of the Chilean miners, they were going to die if somebody didn’t make a decision.  So the rescuer’s drilled three different rescue holes to three different areas in the mine where they thought the trapped miners might be.  They were called Plans A, B and C.  And wouldn’t you know it; it was Plan B that worked.  How often is it in our lives that Plan B is the one that works?  How often do we give up after Plan A doesn’t work?

The trapped Chilean Miners lived by a mantra, and it helped keep them alive

While I don’t know exactly what the Chilean miner’s mantra was, I absolutely believe they had one and used it every day.  Their mantra kept them positive, focused on their eventual release and proactive in doing the things they needed to do to survive.  Imagine the crushing despair they would have felt.  Imagine how debilitating it could have been – but it wasn’t.  The miners worked together and guarded against it.

How often does this happen to us in our daily lives when things are tough, when things go wrong, when things aren’t going the way we want them to?

My personal mantra is Live Adventurously and I work to live by it everyday.  It’s not just about being trapped in a mine or climbing the world’s highest mountains.  It’s about how to approach every day life.  Some of the principles of Live Adventurously are:

  • Never miss an opportunity,
  • Often things in life aren’t going to look the way we think they will,
  • Failure is the fastest path to success and
  • Choose a mantra that speaks to your heart and live by it every day.

The Chilean trapped miners and their rescue taught me a lot about how to live life every day.  It’s a lesson we can all benefit from – every day.

, , , , , ,

One Response to The Chilean Trapped Miners: What can they and their rescue teach us about our life?

  1. Tom Haupt October 20, 2010 at 9:20 pm #

    Ridlon- This is an absolute parallel to life. I couldn’t agree with you more. My mantra: Sometimes we don’t find our greatness until we’re challenged.
    I believe many people during this ordeal HAD to step into their greatness. Thanks for your insights!

Be Adventurous and Join the Conversation! Leave Your Comment Here.