And so the 33 miners from San Jose mine in Copiapo, in Chile were brought to the surface after 69 days.

In order to stay alive, they needed to build a community and without this peer group support that gave vital encouragement from the stronger to the weaker, when it was needed, they would never have survived the ordeal.

But as soon as the first bore-hole broke through, the trapped miners knew that there was contact with the outside world, the eventual miracle began. This link gave them the will, strength and courage to endure their deprivation underground.

This story caught the world's imagination. And as soon as the first miner Florencio Avalos was hoisted to the surface in the rescue capsule, we heard the words from the Chilean President, "Welcome to the surface and life", and he was right. The rescue mission was a resounding success. It worked like clockwork; like a precision military strike.


The rescued miners will now have to manage the potential psychological problems that will affect many of them in the years to come, as a result of their ordeal. Probably, there will be those who will suffer from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) which can, in some instances, last for years. Maybe some will go back underground, as this is all they know, but then they will have to manage the triggers that they will experience every time they go back underground. Others will try and start a new life with a new career.

And as I watched the television screen, my mind went to the rescuers who risked their own lives. For me, they are the ‘heroes of the overground' — those that made it happen and those we don't necessarily see ‘on camera'.

We heard one of the miners say that "they have given us our lives back". The 24-hour effort of the drilling crews in this rescue mission was extraordinary. And it is to them that those of us around the world who watched the drama, day after day, extend our thanks and gratitude.

And for me, as ever, the learning comes from the resilience, the faith and the basic survival that we have as human beings. It is easier to survive if we know there is someone on the other side and yet we have seen cases of people in prison camps who never knew if anyone was still waiting for them, but yet had the will and determination to survive.

They all have needed to possess this strong belief in personal survival and to have a ‘can-do' attitude. This attitude, that I speak about so often in my keynote presentations, has been really put to the test in this Chilean mining disaster that ended with a miracle.

This ‘miner miracle' has been a test of survival, ‘can do' and resilience to the extreme. Can you think of a time when you were put to the test. What was your learning from the experience?

Salient features

  • It is easier to survive when we know there is a loved one waiting and praying.
  • Resilience, faith and a ‘can-do' attitude can strengthen the will to survive
  • Global fame brings with it its own challenges.

The author is a BBC guest-broadcaster and motivational speaker. She is CEO of an international stress management and employee wellbeing consultancy based in London. Contact the consultancy for proven stress strategies: