What We Can Learn About Leadership from the Chilean Miners (remember this)
By Scott Elbin
Some days it seems like you have to look long and hard to find examples of inspirational leadership lessons in the news. Today is not one of those days. If you haven’t already done so, you must read the front page article by Alexei Barrionuevo in the New York Times on how the 33 Chilean miners trapped in the copper mine organized themselves to survive. In an era where lots of people claim to be leaders but don’t deliver, here is a whole group of leaders doing what needs to be done to facilitate their own rescue.
You’ve probably heard the story by now, but, in case you haven’t, here’s the quick recap. The miners were trapped in a collapse a few montsh ago. They were presumed dead for 17 days until rescue crews on the surface pulled back a drilling tube to find a plastic bag with a note in it that said, “We are fine in the refuge, the 33.” Since then, rescuers have been able to send necessities and communicate with the miners through a very small shaft running into the half mile deep space. The miners know that it will be between two and four months before they can be dug out.
What they’ve done for themselves since the collapse has been both simple and astounding. Simple because it makes so much sense. Astounding because of the grace and discipline they’ve shown under pressure. Through multiple acts of leadership they have organized themselves to take care of their bodies, minds and spirits. The way they’ve done it is instructive and humbling for all of us leading in much less challenging situations.
Here’s some of what we can learn from the miners: Leaders share the role: You might assume that the miners’ shift supervisor would take over the sole leadership role. Yes, Luis Urzua organized work assignments for the crew, assisted with the plan to get out of the mine and ensured that no one eat a meal until everyone’s food had been sent down the shaft. He did not, however, take on every leadership responsibility for himself.
The oldest miner on the crew, Mario Gomez, took the leadership role of attending to the spiritual and mental health of the men. He consulted with psychologists on the surface to monitor the psychic health of his comrades. Yonny Barrios took the lead on ensuring the physical health of the crew by drawing on six months of nursing training he took 15 years ago. Barrios administered tests and health screenings to his friends on behalf of the doctors monitoring the situation above ground.
What a beautiful and impressive example these men are of leaders who share the work of leadership. Leaders leverage their gifts: Each of these three miners along with others on the crew were drawing on the gifts of their life experience and interests to ensure the well-being of the unit. Someone I respect recently pointed out to me that you know you’re in the right leadership role when your heart and body and not just your head tell you it’s the right way for you to contribute. That’s more likely to happen when you’re leveraging your gifts. My guess is that Urzua, Gomez and Barrios felt that kind of alignment with the leadership roles they assumed. Leaders keep the whole person in mind: Every organization has a bottom line. In the case of a mine rescue, the bottom line is getting the miners out alive. It’s one thing, though, to bring the men out in relatively good physical health. It’s another to bring them out with their mental, spiritual and emotional health intact. How fortunate they are to be led by men who recognize those needs and have organized everyone to consistently attend to them.
What difference would it make to the health of our organizations and the people in them if every leader approached their work with such attention and care to the whole person? It’s pretty breathtaking to consider, isn’t it? What’s inspired you about the Chilean miners, their families and the people who worked to rescue them? What other leadership lessons can we learn from these brave and resourceful souls?
Attitude is Nearly Everything in the World of Sales
By Andrea Sittig-Rolf
In this article, I will address the importance of choosing a positive attitude if you’ve chosen sales as a career. Notice I used the word “choosing” rather than the word “having” as it relates to attitude, to make the point that a positive attitude is a choice and not something that is beyond your control. The quote about attitude by Charles Swindoll sums it up nicely: “I am convinced that life is 10 percent what happens to me and 90 percent of how I react to it.” What a powerful statement. It puts the ownership and responsibility of how we react to the world on us. This may feel like an awful lot of responsibility, but at the same time, it gives us control over our own circumstances and therefore offers a feeling of empowerment to make a difference in our own lives.
Attitude is a key element for anyone who has chosen sales as a career. If you are a sales professional, you know that having a positive attitude makes a world of difference in your success. In a profession that is conducive to rejection, you must have a positive attitude to be able to deal with the sometimes negative circumstances that occur simply as a result of being a salesperson.
How many times have you lost a sale and then immediately began thinking about what you could have done differently to win the business? The telling factor in your long-term success as a sales professional is your ability to learn from each “lost deal” and correct those mistakes the next time, which is all part of choosing a positive attitude.
It’s amazing how far a positive attitude can take you in the world of sales. Attitude is a huge part of what makes up your reputation, and often one of the first things people will notice when meeting you for the first time. It’s easy to have a positive attitude when things are going well; the difficulty comes in remaining positive when things don’t go the way you’d hoped.
Because attitude is a mind-set that reveals itself in behaviors, often acting positive even when you don’t feel positive will change the way you feel over time, which means you can change your attitude if you so desire.
Finally, to put a positive spin on the sometimes negative or losing circumstances that occur in sales, just think to yourself, “Yeah, losing stinks, but if it didn’t happen every once in a while, I wouldn’t appreciate winning!” or, as Jimmy Dean once said, “I can’t change the direction of the wind, but I can adjust my sales to always reach my destination.” OK, OK, his quote used the word sails, not sales, but you get the point.