On October 13, 2010, the last of 33 miners trapped nearly half a mile underground for more than two months at a caved-in mine in northern Chile are rescued. The miners survived longer than anyone else trapped underground in recorded history.
Can you imagine how terrifying that would be? They were working away in the mine when suddenly, a single block of stone as tall as a forty-five-story building broke off from the rest of the mountain and fell through the layers of the mine, causing a chain reaction as the mountain above it began collapsing too.
And thirty-three miners were sealed inside the mountain by a mega-block of stone that weighed twice as much as the Empire State building. Imagine that you work for the rescue crew that had gathered to perform this tricky and time-consuming rescue. You were one of the brave first-responders with a prestigious rescue company.
Imagine the leader of this rescue company was out of the country but was confident in you and the rest of his crew. He would maintain constant communication with you through text, email, and other forms of communication. He would give regular instructions until he was able to return in person to check on your progress.
He often writes during the weeks that follow, communicating his instructions and concerns to properly execute the rescue of these thirty-three miners. Finally, some months later, he returns. He walks up to the site and immediately discovers everything is in a mess—the equipment is in disrepair, the drills aren't working, and broken parts litter the ground. Not only that but there is evidence that you and the crew have been spending your time on meaningless things while the miners are dying underground. Fast-food bags are strewn around the site. Crew members are reclined, and sleeping everywhere with hard hats pulled over their eyes to block out the sunlight. Elsewhere, there is music blaring, some makeshift volleyball games are in progress.
The boss calls the whole crew together indignantly, "What happened? Didn't you get my emails? There are 33 people down there dying! What you are you guys doing? Didn't you get all the messages I sent you?" One of the crew members speaks up, "Oh, yeah, sure, boss. We got your emails. We even bound them in a book. In fact, we have an 'email study' every Sunday. We have even divided the crew into small groups and discussed many of the things you wrote. Some of it was really interesting. You had some great ideas in there. A few of us over-achievers have actually memorized some of your sentences and paragraphs."
The boss says, "That's all fine, but what about the rescue mission? What about the people who are dying down there? You got my instructions; you studied them, discussed, and even memorized them. But it all means nothing unless you DO what I said!"