Lessons in Workplace Ethics from Chile and Inspiration from Berlin, PA
I had not been following the Chilean mine rescue operation, but now I wish that I had been. I just happened to catch the beginning of the final stages, as the capsule designed to bring the miners up from their half-mile deep tomb was being lowered with a paramedic on board.
From that point, I watched for several hours as the first miners were brought up, and again the next night, until Luis Urzua, the miners' 54 year old shift boss, and the last miner to come out, was escorted into the makeshift clinic at the site of the mine. His first words upon arriving at the surface were most telling, saying to Chile's president, Sebastian Pinera, "I hand the shift over to you."
What a wonderful expression of the proper ethics of the workplace!
For seventy days, including the seventeen that passed before anyone on the surface knew that the miners were alive, Mr. Urzua treated the entire ordeal as just part of his job. He never lost his cool, never lost control of his crew. His calm and rational leadership literally saved their lives.1
The lessons to be taken from the Chilean mine emergency are doubtless beyond counting at this point, but one thing seems certain, that Mr. Urzua's part in this extraordinary rescue will serve as a model of leadership to be studied for years to come.
Then, there is Daniel Henninger's column in the Wall Street Journal on October 14, Capitalism Saved the Miners.2 I just loved his reference to the Center Rock drill bit that made finding and rescuing those miners possible. Center Rock, Inc. is a privately owned company in Berlin, Pennsylvania. It has seventy-four employees. When Center Rock's president, Brandon Fisher, heard about the situation in Chile, he called and offered his company's help. Chile accepted without hesitation. Henninger goes on to make the larger point that private companies are the engines of innovation around the world, and that their number runs into the tens of thousands, just here in the U.S.
My point is that there is simply no way to look at the Chilean miners' rescue as anything other than awe-inspiring and inspirational. God bless you, Mr. Urzua!
And, Rock on, Center Rock!
Until next week,
PATIENCE, DISCIPLINE, and CONFIDENCE in the FUTURE! mh