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Thai Soccer Team Overcomes Obstacles

If you turned on the TV in July, you saw Thailand in the news. While a Thai youth soccer team sat trapped in a cave from June 23 to July 10, many wondered if they’d get out alive. But instead of tragedy, you saw YE Foundational Values lead to the rescue of 12 young boys and their coach. Let's examine the three Foundational Values that led to their safe return.

Led by their coach, the team ventured into the cave after a soccer game on June 23, and cave flooding kept them trapped until they were found on July 2 by two British divers. When news reached global media, many pointed their finger at one person: the coach who took them into the cave. But true character is revealed in the aftermath of mistakes (that we all commit).

The team’s coach, Ekapol Chanthawong (Coach Ek), wrote a letter from inside the cave acknowledging his mistake, but promised to keep the boys safe. Instead of self-pity, he exemplified the Foundational Value of “Responsibility.” He helped the team remain calm (Coach Ek “took responsibility for his own life” and became a monk after his mother, father and brother died while he was young), which transformed the boys’ mindsets before being rescued.

Thai Navy SEALs, US Military and rescue experts from six different countries traveled to aid the team’s rescue. The Foundational Value of “Sound Judgment” was exhibited by each rescuer involved. They needed to “use economic thinking to create the greatest benefit while using the least resources” before more rain flooded the cave - extending the operation weeks or even months. Sound judgment fueled the rescue - if members of the team acted before calculating and deliberating, the boys and other divers might not have made it out alive.

Although the rescuers played hero, it was the lost boys who inspired a watching world. Next time you’re upset with a low phone battery, think about the Thailand soccer team who survived days without food, natural light and family. Think about letters they wrote from the cave based on one Foundational Value: “Freedom.” The mere thought of freedom delivered each boy through adversity. After being rescued, the boys were once again free to pursue their dreams.

Unlike the Thai cave situation, most of your decisions won’t result in life or death. But do you apply the Foundational Values of Responsibility, Sound Judgment and Freedom to small decisions? In the end, it’s lots of small decisions that lead to big impact.

Through this blog it is easy to see how the Foundational Values are present in everything that we do. We should use them as a lens to view the world to critically think of solutions to problems we see in society.

Conversation starters:

- Have you ever been lead astray by someone in a leadership role?

- What Foundational Values did the leader demonstrate on this occasion?

- What Foundational Values did the leader not demonstrate, that would have been valuable for them to use? Explain why.

- If you found yourself in a situation like the one the soccer coach was in, how would you demonstrate Foundational Values to create value for yourself and others? Tell your story.

To foster student’s progression along the path of personal transformation and self-actualization, we want students not to just recite the Foundational Values, but to go a step further by internalizing each value and reflecting on the connection between their personal experience and the values.