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Finding Power and Purpose in Your Crucible Moment

Warwick Fairfax

April 18, 2019

I have found that when you use a crucible moment to help others, it can be very healing. When we take the focus off ourselves and try to use what we have been through to help others, it can make a huge difference in our spirit and our lives. Living such a life — using the pain of a crucible experience to help others — is what leading a life of significance is all about. But how do we get to a place where our experiences empower us rather than define us?

What is a Crucible Moment?

First, we need to define what a crucible moment is. Typically, it’s a painful experience that changes us. If we choose, it can be like a refining fire, molding us into something new. We can either wallow in our misfortune or we can choose to use our pain to help others and lead a life of significance. How we use our pain depends on the type of experience we have had. No person’s crucible moment is exactly the same as anyone else’s. Rather, each experience is incredibly personal.

A crucible moment can include the following difficult experiences:

  • The loss of a business.
  • Losing your job or being fired.
  • Living with a health challenge such as cancer.
  • Having your marriage end in divorce.
  • Losing a loved one.

Crucible moments such as these can be searing.  How do you recover from losing a job that you have put everything you have into?  What about feeling like you were unfairly fired from your job?  Maybe you have a health challenge, due to the poor genetics in your family.  How is that fair?  Or what about having your marriage end in divorce after years of being together?  How do you carry on with life, alone?  What does each day look like when someone you love has passed away?

Find Time for Reflection

When faced with a crucible experience, the first step to moving beyond it and finding the purpose to your pain is through reflection.  You have to first understand what you are feeling and why, as well as understand what happened, before you can take the next step to moving on.

Here are some steps to help with reflection:

  • Be honest with yourself. Assess how much of the situation was your fault. Perhaps you played a role in being fired.  In a health challenge, assess how much your lifestyle (diet and exercise) was a contributing factor. With a divorce, perhaps it was not all his or her fault.  Maybe your behavior or actions did not help, either.
  • Ask for input. Get input from others who know and care about you. Perhaps some coworkers can give you their perspective as to why you were fired.  Some loved ones, if asked, might be able to help you determine how much of what led to your divorce was your fault and what was not.
  • Take responsibility. This might involve accepting the role you played in being fired, getting divorced, or the impact that an unhealthy lifestyle may have played in your health situation.

Accept and Forgive

Very often with crucible moments, acceptance and forgiveness are key. If you made mistakes that led to the loss of your business or your job, you have to accept it and own it, and then forgive those you might have a grudge against. It is not easy, as I know all too well.  In a health challenge, you might have eaten properly and exercised, and might have still gotten sick.  You might be angry at the world or at God.  Or with a marriage, you might have suffered abuse and, understandably, have a lot of anger.

To be able to move on you have to forgive, whether or not the other person deserves forgiveness.  Forgiveness is as much about helping you move on, as it is about showing grace toward the other person.  Forgiveness is a choice.  It is not about how you feel.  To be able to forgive, sometimes talking to a trained therapist can help.  Prayer or meditation can also be very helpful.

Moving On: Using Your Experience to Help Others

The key to moving on after acceptance and forgiveness is finding ways to help others using your own experience. Losing a business or being fired can give you empathy for others who have been through something similar and perhaps you have some insights that might help others avoid what you have been through. This could mean being a mentor to other business leaders.

Living with a health challenge can give you a degree of empathy to come alongside others, such as those battling with cancer, that other people are not really able to.  Perhaps you could join or lead a group of cancer survivors, for instance.

With a divorce or the loss of a loved one, you could be part of groups that exist to help such people.  For instance, you could join a group of spouses of veterans who have lost their loved ones, or a group for people coping with loss or, depending on the situation, be part of a group who have suffered abuse in their marriage.

Whatever your experience is, there is immense strength in sharing your story. It’s not only empowering, but it can help to light the way for those who are walking a similar path.  Helping others who are going through what you have been through can be incredibly healing.  The pain never completely goes away, but when we use our pain to help others, we find purpose to our pain and to our lives.

If you’re ready to find power and purpose in your crucible moment, I encourage you to ask yourself the following reflective questions. To dive even deeper, feel free to download our free Crucible Leadership workbook.

Crucible Leadership, Warwick Fairfax, Inspiration, Leadership, Coaching, Leading a Life of Significance, Refined


  • What type of crucible experience have you been through?
  • Who do you have to forgive?
  • How can you use the pain you have been through to help others?
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