4i Newsletter Masthead 439

Underground lessons.

Four i 439 Underground Lessons small

Four years ago, I bet all of us were totally gripped by the Tham Luang cave rescue, of 12 young footballers (aged 11-16) and their coach (25).

To recap, after a football practice session for the youths, the team went on a bonding trip to a nearby cave network in northern Thailand. Shortly after entering the caves, heavy rainfall flooded the system, blocking any way out.

The rescue attempts were hampered by high water levels and strong currents, resulting in a series of fruitless attempts for two weeks, during which time there was no contact with the stranded group, nor any evidence that they were still alive. Eventually, when most had given up hope, British divers John Volanthen and Richard Stanton found them all; incredibly still alive and relatively well, 4 kilometres from the cave mouth on a raised rock.

John Volanthen, subsequently wrote a book: ‘Thirteen lessons that saved thirteen lives’, and their application to business and life in general – let me share a synopsis of Lesson One.

“Start with Why Not?”

John knew he had the technical competency and experience to assist with the rescue, but why do it?

About 1,000 people were already involved in the rescue operation, including navy divers, military personnel and civilian volunteers.

The risks were enormous: One former Thai navy diver, Petty Officer Saman Gunan died while taking part in the rescue efforts.

Even getting permission from the authorities to join the rescue mission in the first place would require time – which was running out of there was to be any chance of finding the boys alive.

John could have left it there. Why get involved? Why take the risk? But, recalling his cave diving career from the earliest days as a Scout, when he accomplished things that required a combination of bravery and pushing mental and physical limits. He knew that he was one of very few people who could accomplish what seemed to most to be a real life “mission impossible”. He felt he had a responsibility to put himself forward.

Instead, whilst always thinking “safety first”, John’s mindset is then to ask the question “Why not?”

To my mind, it is this juxtaposition that leads to pushing new boundaries and achieving the seemingly unachievable.

How many times in business and in life would asking the question “why not?” lead to better results?

Asking “why not” and moving forward with “one hand on the rail” so to speak, enables the exploration of new levels – in John’s case this approach led to the discovery and then remarkable rescue of thirteen lives, but it is just as applicable in business too.

Meet John Volanthen in person and hear his first hand account of the thirteen lessons that led to the rescue of thirteen lives at EA Masters on 21st September 2022.

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