Watching the recovery of the miners in Chile last week created a great pause for us all. It was funny to me that the issue of how many journalists were there recording and celebrating the event was even an issue. In a time of global recession, terrorism and fear, we all wanted to bask in that moment of discovery, connection, and restoration.
It gives me pause to talk about the research I’ve been doing for the last couple of years on resilience. My colleague, Rick Miller, and I have been diligently working on assembling some education—reminders really—on how to access our resilience, even during such long, drawn out down times like now.
The miners’ experience helps us understand resilience at its best. Based on research reported by the Department of Homeland Security (Concept Development: An Operational Framework for Resilience, August 27, 2009) we have been adapting ideas for how individuals become and stay resilient. The miners’ experience is a great example of how it works.
According to the research, there are three phases in resilience: Resist, Absorb, Restore. Looking at the case of the miners, part of resilience is preventing mine accidents and protecting the workers. Once the accident occurs, though, if we can’t move into absorbing the hit, then we don’t have the resources to get to the next step.
While we don’t know the full story, it’s no surprise that emotions were running high, that fights broke out, and that tensions and competition needed to be resolved. It is clear, though, that the miners moved on to the next step, whether it was sharing spoonfuls of tuna or creating exercise routines, they kicked into gear their ability to absorb the hit, and cope with the situation at hand. The fact that all thirty-three of them came up is testament to that.
Now they are deeply involved in the restoration phase. Here is where they recover, regain their strength, and bring stronger resilience skills to the rest of us. There is talk circulating about creating educational institutes to share their experience. How great would that be, to build our resilience skills even stronger by learning from them.
So whatever tough thing we may be facing in our life, we can all learn from the miners. The biggest lesson is to stop and take time to absorb whatever hit you are experiencing, and figure out baby steps to cope. Let that work its course, then you can move on to the restore phase. Patience—69 days of it in the case of the miners—time to absorb, pays off.