The whole world held its breath for days! Ten days! The search was intense for 12 young Thai soccer boys and their coach. The world was captivated as they watched and prayed for this team—stranded by rising waters that drove them further and further into subterranean passages. And then they were found. Everyone took a deep breath. And then we all watched as frantic efforts were started to figure out a way to remove them from over two miles deep inside a mountain. It took 8 more days to get the 13 safely out.
During the interlude between discovery and rescue, my attention was captured by a news network editorial by Dr. Marc Siegel, author of the book, False Alarm: The Truth About the Epidemic of Fear. Dr. Siegel wrote his editorial about the trapped soccer team before the rescue began. He predicted:“I believe there are already several good signs that the rescue will ultimately be a success.” Why did he have such confidence? Dr. Siegel stated, “In the first place, the young soccer players are a cohesive team, already skilled in relying on each other, and are working with experienced divers to set up a well-organized, panic-free escape.”
Dr. Siegel went on to give another key reason for his confidence in a successful rescue: “Consider that the trapped boys have already shown bravery and mental fortitude in the way they survived for nine days without knowing when or if they would ever be found. Yet when they were found they were calm, several were laughing, and they assured rescuers they were in good health.” Here’s the main point Dr. Siegel was making. The above evidence “is a very good sign that the boys can control their negative emotions.”
Both fear and courage are contagious. Dr. Siegel’s book is grounded in research that demonstrates both fear and courage are strong emotions that engage the same primitive centers of the brain. However, they can’t both engage these brain centers at the same time. Laughter is an antidote for fear. As so is comradery. Both were clearly displayed in a video rescuers captured during the first few minutes of finding the soccer team.
I’ve been thinking about this concept of both fear and courage being contagious. I’ve observed it and experienced it as a pastor, a board chair, a soccer coach, a police chaplain, a husband and a parent. As a leader, my choice of courage or fear, was contagious. Sometimes I unintentionally chose fear and it spread through those around me. Other times, I chose courage. And those around me caught it and spread it. Both are contagious. Strong emotions. Mutually exclusive. Today, I choose courage. What will be your choice?
QUESTION: Do you remember a time when you saw the result of a leader choosing courage? Fear? Would you be willing to share it in the comment section below?