All eyes are on Thailand now, as we can’t stop watching the Thai cave rescue. Our hearts go out to the boys, the soccer coach, their families, and the divers who are risking their lives to make sure they bring all of them to safety. But, what you might not know is why these kids were able to remain calm through the rescue process and do something that no kid in human history has done before. Keep reading to discover the unknown story behind the soccer coach and the Thai kids.
If you are not following the #ThaiCaveRescue story, you are missing a story of true human resilience, courage, and optimism.
The story is that 12 young footballers (soccer players for us Yanks), aged 11 to 16, and their 25-year-old coach rode bicycles to the Tham Luang cave complex on June 23rd.
As part of an initiation ceremony, they journeyed into the cavern to write their names on the inside of the cave. Scrawling their names on the cave wall would be material proof that they had completed the test.
Shortly after the boys went in, the sky opened up and a torrential downpour flooded the cave entrance.
The kids and their coach were already too deep into the cave to come out against the rushing waters–their exit route had been cut off. Their only choice was to go deeper into the cave.
So they forged ahead…
They traversed sharp upward bends and downward slopes. Eventually, they found dry ledge nearly two miles (4 km) into the cave. This stranded them in total darkness and ultimately made any chance of a rescue extremely treacherous.
After it was realized they were missing, a team of international divers, law enforcement, and military assembled to find the young football team and their coach.
After a grueling search through tight and dangerous passageways, a miracle happened. The 12 children and their coach are found alive by a British cave diving team after many hours of searching.
The crowds at the rescue site rejoiced at the good news. But the celebration was short lived.
Now, the real challenge began.
How would they get the boys and their coach out safely?
Much-needed food and medical supplies are delivered to the boys and rescuers go over their options. At first, it’s believed that the boys would be able to stay there for a while–possibly even months–to wait out Thailand’s monsoon season. They decided that as long as supplies are delivered, the kids would be safe.
Then an increased sense of urgency started to build as authorities realized that weather conditions were expected to worsen. This could potentially flood the area where the boys have been staying. That would make the rescue even more dangerous at best or drown the boys at worst. So talks begin about the possibility of diving the boys and their coach out.
A former Thai navy SEAL who came out of retirement to aid in the rescue dies. He runs out of oxygen on his way back from delivering supplies to the kids.
This raised serious doubt about the possibility of getting the young boys and their coach to dive out of the cave. None of them have any diving experience and some of them can’t even swim.
Expert after expert made media appearances warning against diving the boys out. They say it can’t be done and will inevitably end in tragedy.
And these weren’t just any experts. We’re talking former American navy SEALs and expert cave divers.
They all repeat the same message over and over…
“IT CANT BE DONE AND SOMEONE WILL DIE.”
Despite overwhelming odds and experts warning against it, all 12 boys and their coach have been successfully rescued.
Think about that for a moment.
Young boys with no scuba diving experience (and some can’t even swim) and under immense pressure dive through a tight cave that twists and turns. At one point, the cave is only 15 inches wide.
This is a feat that would challenge the most experienced diver. Yet these boys made it.
How is that even possible?
Why didn’t they panic when they made their way into the cold darkness through tight junctions that would make anyone feel claustrophobic?
I’ll tell you the 3 reasons why these boys were able to achieve the impossible.
1. They Were Mentally Strong
One thing that you probably haven’t heard about in the Thai Cave Rescue story is that the kids’ coach was trained in meditation as a Buddhist monk for a decade before becoming a soccer coach.
When the boys were first discovered by the British cave diving team, they found the boys meditating.
The coach taught the boys to meditate in the cave to keep them calm and to help them
preserve their energy while they waited to be rescued.
If you’ve paid any attention to the increasing attention meditation has been getting, It shouldn’t come as any surprise that the practice would be very useful in a situation of extreme duress like being trapped in a cave.
Buddhist meditation has been around for over 2,000 years. Buddha began teaching it as tool to achieve clarity, peace of mind, and ultimately, to liberate people from their suffering.
Not only has it been around for millennia, but recent scientific research has proven the power of meditation to fight depression, reduce anxiety, boost your immune system, and even help to alleviate back pain.
It’s one thing to lift weights or go running. And both strengthen the body as well as the mind.
Exercise is great and you should be exercising.
But, it’s also common to also see people in the West use exercisers an escape. Some people are so addicted to the stress-reducing effects of their workouts that they get depressed when they can’t exercise.
I’ve been there before and it’s not a good thing.
What happens when you can’t go for a run or hit the gym?
How do you stay mentally strong without the need to rely on the hormones and brain chemicals produced by exercise?
Meditation is one powerful way.
I’ve personally used meditation to calm my mind during stressful situations, to fight off panic attacks, to deal with injuries. And I’m not even talking about how it helped me with my productivity and work performance.
In fact, I’ve spent over 7000 minutes meditating using the Headspace app and I can personally attest to how powerful this ancient practice is.
There’s no doubt in my mind that this meditation was key in helping those kids endure and achieve the unimaginable.
2. We Are More Capable Than What We Think
The first thing I want you to understand is that you’re capable of far more than you know. In fact, I bet you have no idea where your limits truly lie.
But why do we think so little of ourselves?
Because we sell ourselves short. We place limitations on what we can accomplish. And the most interesting part is that most of these limitations are imaginary. We’ve never tested them.
Maybe it comes from the society we live in.
Maybe it comes from out fearful parents.
But many of us just visualize ourselves being in that situation and our hear rates increase while our palms get sweaty. And the feelings of fear it brings up causes the little voice in the back of our minds to cast doubt on our abilities.
“I would freak out and probably drown.”
“I’d have them leave me there instead of trying to escape. I just couldn’t do it.”
We’re not talking about doing something impossible. This isn’t about holding your breath for 30 minutes. Or enduring freezing cold water that will cause hypothermia in a matter of minutes. Or going out into space without a space suit.
We’re talking about using diving equipment and staying calm under pressure.
Yes, it’s easier said than done.
Yes, it’s a tremendous challenge for someone diving for the first time.
In fact, it’s already been proven.
As I said, all 12 kids and their are already safe.
The talking heads on TV were wrong about this one.
3. They Were No Stranger To Challenge
Maybe the experts would’ve been right had it been about some white American kids from the suburbs.
They might’ve been right if it was your kids stuck in that cave.
Because, I’m general, Western children (and the parents who raised them) are weak.
Weak in mind and weak in body.
Their parents don’t discipline them or instill respect.
They play video games instead of sports.
They get a trophy just for participating.
This isn’t a judgment. It’s and observation. And it’s the truth.
In fact, in the West, we’re lucky enough to live the sedentary and self-indulgent lifestyles that we do. It’s a sign of wealth and abundance.
I say the West but that’s not true. The same rich kids from Hong Kong, Tokyo, India, or Dubai are in the same situation.
No matter where you live in the world, a life that lacks mental and physical challenge while also being full of pleasure and indulgence will have consequences.
Let’s compare the above with the Thai kids who’re stuck in the cave.
And the journey into the cave was team-building exercise that they had undertaken many times. This group adventure they would embark on was considered crucial to the team’s training.
It was a challenge and a rite of passage.
The goal of the cave trek was to scrawl their names at the end of the tunnel as proof they had completed their journey.
What challenge have you or your child been through lately?
No I’m not talking about the challenge of paying your bills, getting your kids to school on time, or keeping your cool when you get cut off in traffic.
I’m talking about a challenge of personal growth.
For many of us, graduating college, starting a career, or having kids is what we consider life challenges. But the reality is that those things aren’t the challenges you need to evolve into a better version of yourself.
That’s why so many college graduates are unemployed, living at home and frustrated.
Finding a way to pay the bills is something everyone has to do if they live in modern society.
It only takes a man and a woman with working reproductive organs to bear children.
While some may argue that it’s a challenge to be a good mother or father, it’s obvious that many are failing in that task.
And it only takes the threat of getting beat up by a much tougher driver or the possibility of spending some time in jail to dissuade us from starting some road rage.
My point is those things aren’t enough.
You must engage in challenges that help you to grow into a stronger version of yourself.
All indigenous societies had rites of passage because they understood through experience that they were necessary to survive and thrive in life.
We’re missing that in modern life. That’s why so many of us get crushed by the unexpected ordeals that life throws at us.
Find your own rite of passage. And do it BEFORE life’s inevitable twists and turns challenge you to your very core.
Since I’ve spent 5 months in Thailand, there’s so much more I could say about the Thai people and this incredible story.
We could also talk about the divers and how they were able to teach these kids what they needed to know fast.
We could talk about the amazing connection that Thai people have with their families and the respect they have for their ancestors.
We could also mention how their deep Buddhist faith gives them a sense of peace and calmness that I’ve only experienced in Thailand.
We could also talk about how Thai kids grow up practicing Muay Thai, which is a way to embrace Thai values such as respect for elders, love of grace, and bravery.
But what I mentioned above paints the best picture of why I believe these boys have accomplished this incredible feat under some of the toughest circumstances imaginable.
We shouldn’t look at this event as a miracle that could’ve only happened with great luck and perhaps some divine intervention.
We should see this as an opportunity to ask, “What exactly gave these kids the resilience and fortitude to overcome overwhelming adversity with such composure?”
Here’s the question that I want to leave you with: “Is there any goal that you’re not achieving because you are telling yourself that you’re not capable of it or that you don’t have the mental toughness to do it?”
If you answered “yes” I want you to think about these kids and what they’ve throug in the past 15 days. No kid in human history did what these kids did until now. Now, please think again about your goal and the stories that you’re telling yourself about why you’re not achieving this goal.
I need you to change your perspective and see for this for what it is: an expression of the untapped potential we all have inside ourselves.
Always remember that you are capable of amazing things and go and take action towards the body, the health, and the extraordinary life you deserve.
P.S. If you have friends, clients or colleagues who can get inspired by this story to conquer their fears and achieve more in life, please share this post. 🙏 It only takes a few seconds!