A sense of purpose is vital to the success of an individual or a team. Sometimes it means the difference between life and death.
When several members of a Uruguayan rugby team survived a plane crash in the Andes mountains in 1972, they originally held out hope that rescue parties would find them. Then they heard on a radio that the search had been abandoned. Some of these young men lost hope at that point. They expected to die in the mountains, far from their family and homes.
A few of the survivors, however, focused not on the horror of their predicament but on a chance to escape. One of these was twenty-two-year-old Nando Parrado, who talked repeatedly of climbing out of the mountains toward Chile and civilization. He could think of nothing else.
Nando’s words provided purpose for the group. They began planning for a three-person trek, setting aside supplies and creating a makeshift sleeping bag and snowshoes. The preparations lifted everyone’s spirits, giving them hope and energy to contribute to the effort.
Finally, Nando and two teammates set out for freedom. One had to turn back, but Nando and his friend Roberto Canessa persevered. Their commitment and desperation propelled them forward when a single slip on the mountains’ slopes would have sent them to their doom. Nine days after beginning their climb, they encountered a hill-country peasant. Soon after, the remaining fifteen survivors were rescued.
A sense of purpose allowed these terrified young men to achieve the “impossible.” It will also allow your team to stretch themselves beyond what they can imagine.
Adapted excerpt from: “Inspired People Produce Results” – Jeremy Kingsley, McGraw-Hill (2013)