Sometimes people just get so wrapped up in thinking about how dire their work situations are and how difficult people can be that they lose perspective on what is really in front of them. That’s why contributing columnist, Jeff Dearduff, advises companies to put current challenges into perspective. 

For the past few months, the world watched a group of people take brotherhood to a whole new level with a side order of determination, perseverance and spirit. I am talking about the 33 gold miners who were stuck 2,000 feet underground, and the hundreds of hard-working individuals working above ground to set them free. Together, they all faced some of the most difficult days and weeks that anyone could imagine.
Then you flash back to reality and all of a sudden, your own personal problems don’t seem so problematic anymore.

That’s because the miners’ teamwork efforts set the bar at a new height when it comes to “one goal, one team.”

Have you ever been stuck in a proof box breakdown for three or four hours? Didn’t it feel like a lifetime? It was hot, humid and based on our typical maintenance priorities, it was probably dark. The work was tough, nerve racking and stressful. However, you were only going to get out when you and others worked together to solve the problem. As bad as a situation like this may have been, after watching the events unfold with the miners in Chile, you might have a different perspective the next time you encounter a situation like this.

Determination is key to the completion of any task or project, and is the tool that gets you out of a jam. The dictionary has many definitions for the word determination, but the one that best applies to this message is, “a firm or fixed intention to achieve a desired end.” Whether you are stuck in that proof box or in an underground mine, you must remain focused on the tasks that guide you to a successful completion. Keeping your mind clear and occupied with the right thoughts can be a very difficult task in itself. Former Los Angeles Dodgers manager Tommy Lasorda once said, “The difference between the impossible and the possible lies in a man’s determination.” It’s as simple as that.

Another key to our overall success in a difficult situation is perseverance. According to the dictionary, this word is best described as, “to persist in a state, enterprise or undertaking in spite of counterinfluences, opposition or discouragement.” We can best relate to this word when we think about that nagging equipment issue that just won’t go away, or a product quality shortcoming that we just can’t get a handle on. We know that if we give up on a difficult situation, the problem will persist forever. As much as we might desire, a problem won’t disappear just because. When we persevere, we can overcome the most difficult of situations; then we can move onto the next one. Henry Ward Beecher, a 19th century Congregationalist clergyman, social reformer, abolitionist and speaker once said, “The difference between perseverance and obstinacy is that one comes from a strong will and the other from a strong won’t.” It’s as simple as that.

In addition, to overcome those challenges we face every day in the workplace, we must have a special, positive spirit within that allows us to maintain our composure and provide a level of trust and hope that the right things will happen in the end. The definition for this is best described as, “a mental disposition characterized by firmness or assertiveness.” Anytime we face adversity, we make a conscious choice to either possess a positive or negative attitude, which comes from an inner spirit. Vince Lombardi, former Green Bay Packers coach, said, “The spirit, the will to win and the will to excel are the things that endure. These qualities are so much more important than the events that occur.”

But how does all of this philosophical mumbo jumbo relate to the miners and even the workplace?
Sometimes we get so wrapped up in thinking about how dire our situations are at work and how difficult people can be that we lose perspective on what is really in front of us. There are very few situations we will face in a lifetime of baking that will ever compare to being stuck in a deep hole with virtually no chance of ever seeing daylight or our loved ones again.

We, need to take a step back and measure the difficulties we face on a daily basis against the realities that those Chilean miners faced for nearly 60 days. Putting your current challenges into perspective can truly help you get through your next day better than you might have imagined.

Stop digging your own holes as you may one day be stuck in a place you can’t get out of. Life is too short.

It’s as simple as that.