Lately I’ve burned out on reading business books, for a little while, at least, and decided some biographies might re-energize me. Skimming the stacks of my library recently, I came across Miracle In The Andes by Nando Parrado. It’s the story of the plane crash in the middle of the wilds of Andes Mountains in 1972. 16 young men survived 72 days on a glacier at 12,000 feet high. This new book, published in 2006, is a first person account by one of the survivors.

It is a riveting tale and I literally could hardly put the book down.

Out of 45 passengers, 16 people survived injuries, sub-zeros temperatures, avalanches and had no choice but to eat the flesh of their dead companions in order to survive. When they realized no rescue was coming, the author and a companion scaled a mountain that would intimidate fully equipped technical mountain climbers and walked 45 miles in nine days until they met a shepherd and got themselves and their companions rescued.

The story is wrenchingly honest about the emotions, the constant fear, the questioning of God and of “why me?” and how they used their team training as members of a rugby team to survive.

The story gave me several gifts especially:

1. It gave me renewed perspective about the “problems” and challenges I am facing.

2. It helped me understand that we all have our “personal Andes” story or stories – challenges,
misfortune, and struggles that seem completely against all odds to turn out well.

3. I was inspired by their courage, inventiveness, team work and sheer guts.

I know many of you, like me, have faced some exceedingly difficult situations, where the odds seem stacked against you and you don’t know if you will survive.

Maybe you’re in such a situation now. At times like these, we must use the stories of others to inspire us, help us find our inner hero, and take another step.

Author Nando Parrado wrote that it was his love for his father and his desire to see him again that kept him going against all odds. (His mother and sister who were also on the plane had died.) At one point when he was sure he was going to die, he had an epiphany that the opposite of death was not life, but love. He stated, “only love can turn mere life into a miracle, and draw precious meaning from suffering and fear.” His circumstances, no matter how overpoweringly bleak and crushing, could not stop him from loving. It was an insight that changed his life.

So whether you’re facing a business challenge, an illness, financial crisis, relationship failure or other situation that seems unsolvable and impossible, I hope you are able to claim the courage and insight that will help you weather the dark night and experience your own version of a miracle.

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