Ten weeks in a small dark space. I can imagine an hour, maybe a night, but two and a half months is difficult to phantom. The Chilean mine workers managed to maintain their perspective and stay alive under extraordinary conditions. While the experience is an inspiring example of human spirit and faith, is there something that we can all take away from this event.

People are sometimes forced to adapt to experiences that are off the main path of life experiences. Working in a mine, on a space shuttle, or under miles of water in the gulf, are all experiences that tend to trivialize the day to day routine of traditional office work.
The labor figures for last week are a reminder that there is a large and growing number of people who have left or been forced to leave their positions. The national unemployment rate remains at about 9.6%. There is still reluctance on the part of employers to advance projects and begin new initiatives.

While it is unfair to compare life threatening situations to employment concerns, there is a need to raise one’s spirit to meet the challenges. A positive attitude, in spite of the media headlines and news reports, is a tough thing to maintain in today’s job market. How does one keep their hope or faith high? How does one endure the transition period? Where do we seek our sense of value? Where do we find our sense of community?

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When I reflect on the Chilean Miners who endured 10 weeks together, I wonder how the paradigm shift occurred for each and every one of these thirty three men. They were in a situation that was not planned and one that required them to work collectively to endure and survive. Their ordeal exemplified human resilience and endurance.

According to Merriam Webster, resilience is “the ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change” and endurance is “the ability to withstand hardship or adversity; especially the ability to sustain a prolonged stressful effort or activity.”  Some believe resilience is a process and not an individual trait. In the medical field, a trait is an inherited characteristic. Do some of us have an instinctual leaning towards resilience and endurance?

 “I think I had extraordinary luck. I was with God and with the devil. And I reached out for God”
Mario Sepulveda, Chilean Miner Survivor

Resilience is how individuals positively cope with stress and adversity. Making a choice on your mind set and attitude is critically important in succeeding towards your goals. Resilience when combined with endurance is a powerful combination. Think about your college days, were there not days when you thought I just need to get through this paper or this exam? And you did what you needed to do to accomplish this task. 

Think of the Chilean Miners and how they collectively endured their days of captivity. Life has unexpected moments that can change your direction in a split second. How you respond, what support you have in place, and how you decide to move forward are the keys to overcoming your fears and not giving up.