Saturday, October 16, 2010

Lessons From the Chile Miners

The human spirit is sometimes a wonder to behold, as the news this week of the rescue of the Chilean Miners from the San José mine made headlines all over the world. I watched some of the live pictures on Sky News and couldn't help feel joy for the miners and delight for the Chilean nation. 

Photo from The Santiago Times.
Two months is a long time to spend in the same place - let alone 700 metres underground in the company of 32 other men. The photo to the right of the last miner rescued Luis Urzua with Chilean President Sebastian Piñera shows what it means to be free after such an ordeal. A fantastic story that the Chileans themselves, despite the cost. It is estimated by The Santiago Times  to be about $20 million US dollars - this is $1 million more that the company (San Esteban Primera) which runs the mine owes in total debt.

I looked for an educational angle in the miners experience - did they use the time to learn some new skill, take classes, or teach one another new ideas and concepts? I have not found that they had any formal education underground. I think this would have been a wonderful opportunity for learning from each other as well as from above ground. This would have been the ultimate test for Distance Education - a virtual classroom underground would have been some story

I took a brief look around the Web for some stories and learnings from the miners. Steve Tobak writes in BNET (CBS's Interactive Business Network) on 4 Leadership Lessons From the Chile Miners. Like us all, Steve is inspired by how they organized, supported each other, and in my mind, demonstrated the very best of what the human race is capable of doing under extremely challenging conditions. He also gives us four leaderships lessons as follows (read article for full details):
  1. Humans really are at their best under extreme adversity
  2. Leadership, management, and organization are not just business concepts
  3. Embracing emotion aids survival
  4. Democratic organizations or “social collectives” where everyone has a voice are inherently problematic

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