Be Like Manuel

The Chilean miners have dominated international headlines and captured our hearts. The storyline was irresistible—hard-working men facing desperate circumstances with grace and passion.

With millions of others, I watched breathlessly as they pulled the miners from the capsule. But one question kept nagging at me. Who voluntarily puts themselves into a 26” diameter tube and jettisons themselves deep into the earth?

Meet Manuel Gonzalez: the first rescuer into the mine and the last one out. And while we don’t know much about him yet, it struck me that he (and the rescue team) may well be a more ruggedly physical version of a great advisor.

Think about it. You are an expert. You work first at the surface with a team of specialists—strategy if you will—to define and solve the problem. At the same time, you continually monitor your client’s condition—and work steadily to equip them for what is yet to come.

You prepare for the descent. You research the best people and tools for the job and then do what you must—beg, cajole and horse trade—to get them to you in time.

And then you go in. As the lead, you are the first one into the mine. You calmly reassure your clients, attach their protective gear and help them get ready to rescue themselves. Because even when you build and power the chute, it’s the client’s choice whether (and how) to use it.

You communicate with your team at the top and you keep morale going as, one by one, your clients shoot up to the surface.

Finally, you wait, alone, until you’re sure everyone is up safely. Then—and only then—do you hop into the escape pod.

Perhaps your clients will say about you what Manuel’s wife said about him “He’s a very chilled person, very systematic. He doesn’t get stressed, he’s not impulsive. I think it’s those characteristics that you need to cope with the kind of conditions they found down there.”

Every assignment isn’t a bet-your-life gig. But when it is? Be like Manuel.

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