Chart Your Own Course to Shake Off the Holiday Blues #49

Warwick Fairfax

December 23, 2020

It’s the most wonderful time of the year, right? Except it doesn’t always feel that way. The holidays can bring on some serious emotional crucibles — from tensions among family members, sadness over those who are no longer with us, even struggling to overcome our disappointment in decisions made by loved ones. That’s what BEYOND THE CRUCIBLE host and Crucible Leadership founder Warwick Fairfax  faced after a long-ago picture of his late father gave rise to emotions he wasn’t expecting.  How did he move beyond those feelings? As he discusses in this episode, he focused on the blessings of the present and the opportunities of the future.

Highlights

  • The old family photo that prompted Warwick’s sad holiday reflection (3:38)
  • Warwick’s sense of loss and sadness over his father’s decisions (7:25)
  • How crucible experiences carry similar emotions even with different circumstances (9:09)
  • The challenge of maintaining happiness during the holidays (12:49)
  • Charting your own course means processing your past (16:55)
  • Learning from the good and not-so-good lessons taught by your family (18:08)
  • Charting your own course means focusing on the blessings you have, not the pain of your past (20:00)
  • How Warwick charted his own course as a parent (25:23)
  • Focus on what you have, not what you lost (28:51)
  • Warwick’s professional blessings — even without running a multibillion-dollar media empire (28:59)
  • It’s never too late to chart your own course (33:08)
  • The importance of forgiving yourself (37:42)
  • Warwick’s final thoughts (42:14)

Transcript

Warwick F:
Welcome to Beyond the Crucible I’m Warwick Fairfax, the founder of Crucible Leadership.

Warwick F:
Over the holiday period, I guess the question we want to ask ourselves is, especially for those that maybe aren’t following a course, aren’t charting a course that they really excited about, that they believe is meaningful, what one decision you’re going to make this holiday period, this Christmas season, this New Year’s season, that will move in a positive direction. I’m not a huge believer in new year resolutions, because you make them and then you forget them. But maybe a life resolution or a… What’s one small step that will take you in a direction that’s positive?

Gary S:
Now, that’s a question to ponder at this time of year. And it’s a question that was prompted for Warwick by something many of us, maybe even most of us, are experiencing right now, dealing with the challenges that come with a holiday season. This is, after all, the time of year when we’re supposed to be singing about tidings of comfort and joy. But what if instead, were struggling with sadness and broken relationships? Instead of auld lang syne, we’re dealing with old wounds. Hi, I’m Gary Schneeberger, co-host of the show and the communications director for Crucible Leadership. Today, in what I’m going to go ahead and call, I’m going to do it, I’m going to call this a very special holiday episode of Beyond the Crucible.

Gary S:
Warwick and I discuss the reality of those feelings that are anything but holly and jolly. We talk about moving beyond the disappointments and heartache of our past, and charting a new hopeful course for the future. How do we do it? We’ve got wisdom from everyone from Abe Lincoln to Bono, to inspire and inform us along the journey. And the first step, as Warwick explains, is just that, taking that first step into a bright new future of significance.

Warwick F:
It’s interesting, the holidays… And in the US, there’s a few of them: Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Years. Australia, of course, we don’t have Thanksgiving. But yeah, the holidays can be a joyous time with family. And with Coronavirus, for many of us, our family gatherings are not as big as they normally are, which obviously there’s that sense of loss there with grandparents and cousins and extended family. And it can be a joyous time, but it can also be a time of loss, or maybe there’s conflict, maybe broken relationships with family, maybe friends. So, it’s…

Warwick F:
Often, during the holidays, there are mixed emotions, conflicting emotions. And it’s often a time of reflection, a time of contemplation. And… Yeah. I guess, for me, that was the case. And what triggered this … And I’m a reflective person by nature, full disclosure.

Gary S:
Our listeners… I think, by now, our listeners are well aware of that Warwick. And I mean that in the best possible way.

Warwick F:
Like with any quality we have, sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad. I mean, there’s always a positive and a negative side for any of our traits. And so, I am reflective. And so, really what triggered this time of reflection for me… I was just going through some old photographs. And by old, I mean really old. As listeners will know, when I was born, my dad was in his late 50s. So, he was actually born in 1901. Yes, that’s 1901.

Gary S:
Wow.

Warwick F:
We’re talking like 120 years ago, or something. Whatever the math is, it’s a long time ago. Obviously, he’s passed away a long time ago, both my parents have now passed. And so, I was looking at this photograph. I think it was probably when he was about 20, 21. It was somewhere around 1922. And YouTube, you can see it, maybe we’ll put it in the show notes. So, see if I can kind of hold it there. So, for people that can see this on YouTube, my dad is sort of the young guy in the jacket. He is the youngest guy there. His mom is to the right of him. She was pretty tall. And… So, obviously this is very old people are wearing this, the early 20s kind of clothes. And it’s funny. This came in this kind of wild… this Kodak film wallet. See if I can hold this up here for people.

Gary S:
Oh wow.

Warwick F:
And this is Kodak. It says… This is from Oxford, where my dad was. On the back, it says, “Kodak film is the best film for Kodaks and Brownies.” Brownies was a very old fashioned form of camera. So, this was like…

Gary S:
Back in the days before your phone was your camera.

Warwick F:
Yeah. This is like way way back, before then.

Gary S:
Right.

Warwick F:
So, okay. It’s just a photograph. So, it’s kind of like, “So what?” And so…

Gary S:
But that photograph… Right? That photograph triggered some reflective emotions in you.

Warwick F:
It did, because here’s this guy who… Hold it up again. A pretty good looking guy, seemed to be relaxed, at ease, obviously came from a well-off family. My family has had significant wealth for generations. So anyway, I guess the point is, as I looked at that, it triggered a bunch of emotions. I remember thinking, “Okay. He doesn’t know what is to come.” But he was to be married three times. While the family seemed pretty happy back then, there were rifts within the family which is… variety of reason… between my cousin, or a cousin of my dad and my dad’s eldest son, who was by his first marriage.

Warwick F:
And any time there’s divorce, it absolutely affects the kids. I was fortunate because I was from the last marriage of my dad and my mother, who was married before. She married my dad. So, I didn’t grow up with… a child of divorced parents. I was fortunate. But it takes an effect. And so, I looked at that, and it was almost sort of wistful. It’s like… I knew, obviously, who my dad was and my grandmother. But I have no idea who these other people are. It’s too long ago. There’s nobody alive who would have a clue who these people are.

Gary S:
Right.

Warwick F:
So, part of it was this wistful sense of, for generations in my family… Certainly, as the listeners know, the founder of the family business, John Fairfax, was a person of great faith. So, it seemed like there were good marriages, no divorce. As far as I know, happy marriages. It was just really close knit family. And then, this is about 1922 or something. Over the decades, somehow, maybe it was more power, more money, more marriages… Somehow, the family… There were rifts within the family. Children of divorced parents, that has an affect. It was a tendency back then, if you were wealthy, to raise your kids with nannies. That would be true in Australia, in the US, in the UK, in that time frame.

Warwick F:
So, I kind of looked at that. I was almost partly wistful, partly it’s like… My dad was a good man in a lot of ways. But it’s like, “Gosh dad. Did you have to get married three times? Couldn’t you have been a bit more thoughtful?” And the devastation in the family, and just… Both my parents have gone. The house where I grew up, in Fairwater, which was a pretty amazing house, that’s gone. So, it was a sense of loss of what’s no longer here, and a sense of sadness, a little bit of anger at my dad for maybe some decisions that could have been better, and rifts in the family. Not all of them were his fault. But there were some things he did that probably weren’t helpful.

Warwick F:
And so, there was mixed emotions of wistfulness, sadness. Why couldn’t things have been like they were prior to my father generation? Really a complex set of emotions that kind of almost saddened me, depressed me, a little bit. So, it was a… That one photo set off a flood of emotions and thoughts, as photos often do.

Gary S:
Yeah. And it’s not… It’s interesting. You described some things about your family. Your great-great grandfather started this media business, and he was a man of faith. And I know what you know, not as intimately as you know it. But I know what you know from reading his biography written by another member of the family that his relationship with his wife was very strong. We say often on the show, when we’re talking to guests, that it’s amazing how crucible experiences, even though the circumstances of what you’re going through may be different, the emotions are the same.

Gary S:
And I think, perhaps in neon lights, what I see here is… No. Not many of our listeners have grown up like you grew up, with a family that had that kind of legacy of influence, and money, and power, and all of the things that come with it. But that legacy of broken relationships, and divorce, and decisions made that have ramifications down through the generations… That is a fairly common, unfortunately, thing in many families. And I think it comes to a sharp focus for us at this time of year. This is… As I said in the beginning, this is the time of year that we’re singing about tidings of comfort and joy. But we’re not always feeling comfortable and joyous.

Warwick F:
No. Sometimes, it’s memories of sadness. Sometimes, it’s happy memories that could also cause us to be sad, which sounds strange. But they’re times that we’ve lost like with my parents, who they had their foibles like we all do, but they dearly loved each other, and just memories of growing up at Fairwater on the Sydney Harbor. And Christmas Eve, we would gather around the piano and sing Christmas carols. And he would always be amusing because none of us could really play the piano. And my dad would attempt to play. And I think he probably learned how to play the piano in school 50, 60 years before, but hadn’t played much ever since, except at Christmas Eve, once a year.

Warwick F:
He’d play with two hands. And he’d start off playing Hark the Herald Angels. And it would be like, “Hark… hang on, hang on. The… okay, almost got it. Herald…” He tired to do two hands. And then, he would remove the left hand, because it’s far easier to play the piano with just one hand. And so, he’d play the piano with one hand and we’d sing a few Christmas carols. But every single year, it would be the same ritual. It would be like, “Dad, give it up. You know you don’t play the piano that well. Just go straight to one hand. Why do the two hand ritual?” But, in some strange way, it was this nice memory or… Every family has its own traditions. We’d have a lot of extended family would come over. And we have a huge dining room table, the mahogany kind of deal.

Warwick F:
But we wouldn’t open our presents until after lunch. Not only after lunch, after the adults had coffee. And because, in the English/Australian tradition, you eat lunch at 1:00, it could be 2:00, 2:30, or later. And by that point, my cousins and I… There’s a lot of kids. It’s like, “Seriously? Can you hurry up with the food and the coffee? Let’s get on with it.” So, you’ve got some happy amusing memories. But when I think about this sense of reflection about the holidays, yes, you’ve got the sad and the happy memories in the past which are gone, and mixed emotions. But then, not only do you have the past, you have the present. It’s like a Christmas Carol, the ghost of Christmas past, present, and future, all that kind of thing well there’s the present.

Warwick F:
And sometimes, that’s great. Right now, as I’ve mentioned and we’ve discussed with COVID, there aren’t too many people that are having a normal Christmas Holiday gathering this year. And sometimes, it can be a sense of joy. Other times, it can be broken relationships with siblings, or cousins. Or maybe we have relatives that made choices in life that we think aren’t as helpful for them, but we don’t say anything. Or if we have, it doesn’t go down well. And we try and love and accept, but we feel sad, sorry, frustrated. Depending on the relationship, it could even be angry. Here we go again. They’re going to push my buttons for the 53rd time. And I’m going to try and smile and pretend it didn’t affect me. And…

Gary S:
And sometimes, it can be… And I’m going to do… Here’s a picture I’m going to hold up. I posted this on Facebook today. This is my family, me and my two brothers and two sisters. And you can see I’m the little guy in the… clearly wearing… I’m the little guy getting held up over there on the far side by my big brother.

Warwick F:
That’s awesome.

Gary S:
And we’ll show this in the show notes too, so people can see what I’m talking about But there, you see all kids… We were all kids around the Christmas tree. We were all younger than probably… Well, let’s see. My brother’s 14 years… All younger than 18, most in just early double digits, me in very early single digits. And half of the people in that photograph, or half of my siblings, have passed away, in addition to my mother. I have eulogized half of my family: my mother, my older sister, my older brother, and my stepfather.

Gary S:
And holidays can also bring about the longing for situations like I just showed. Right? There’s a lot of people who go through that, people who you’ve celebrated with before not only aren’t there because of COVID, but because of life’s… They’ve left this life. They’ve departed this life. And that kind of sadness can ring as well at this time. And you can think back on those moments. And you can get reflective about…

Warwick F:
Right. You look at that photo, and you go, “Why couldn’t life be like that now? Why couldn’t I have my siblings at Christmas, my mom, my stepdad? That was a nice memory. Why does that have to go? Can’t we have that again somehow?” And it inevitably, for most people, it triggers those sea of emotions. Yeah. So, it’s a time of reflection, a time of frustration. And I guess the challenge with all this is, it’s fine to be wistful and maybe remember some of those things, but don’t let either the happy emotions or the sad ones pull you down.

Warwick F:
But how can happy emotions pull you down? Well, because they can be a sense of… like that photograph that you showed, a sense of loss. And if it does… It sounds simple to say this. But if it doesn’t serve you, remember it, but don’t… As one of our guests, Professor Badaracco, Joe Badaracco, said, “Ruminate versus reflect.” If it’s ruminating, as in, “Gosh, that’s unfair. And why did that have to happen?” It’s natural but you don’t want to dwell on there and just live in it, and let those emotions flood. You’re not dishonoring folks by not letting it pull you down. So, treasure those memories. Try to not let the negative ones pull you down. And part of the whole chart your own course is, each of us has our own memories, our own path, our own new beginning, if you will.

Gary S:
Right. And the idea of calling this episode Chart Your Own Course… It’s very similar, again, even though circumstances are different from the crucibles that we have on, or the crucible situations that we talk about mostly on the show, or usually on the show, in that you need to “learn the lessons of your crucible.” You need to learn the lessons of that wistfulness, of those setbacks, those tragedies, those traumas, those things that we’ve been discussing that have happened to you. You need to learn those lessons.

Gary S:
And then, it comes… The idea of charting your own course is, how do you move beyond that? It’s the same thing that we say about any crucible. You need to learn the lessons. It doesn’t happen overnight, in most cases. But once you learn those lessons, then how do you… To go back to a very impactful statement you made in the podcast a few episodes back, how do you take one small step at a time, one small step followed by another small step by another small step, to begin to chart your course beyond the crucible of those holiday woes, depression, sadness, broken relationships, conflicts? How do you do that? And that’s what we really want to spend most of our time talking about here.

Warwick F:
Yeah. You said a very interesting thing which was, learn the lessons of your crucible and indeed the crucibles you grew up in, maybe other family member’s crucibles. Because we can learn, from our family, things that we admire. And I admired my dad’s integrity and doing what he felt was right. But we can also learn from our family’s mistakes. Doesn’t mean we dishonor them by saying that. But we’re going to make our own mistakes. But at least maybe we can hopefully avoid some ones that other family members have made. So, as I mentioned, my dad was married three times.

Warwick F:
And when I was growing up, I was pretty paranoid about that. Because I saw the… Devastation is maybe too strong a word, or maybe it’s not… but the impact it caused on my older half siblings. And I didn’t want that to be me. I didn’t want that to be my kids. So, I was very very paranoid. I wanted… Because I’m a person of faith, I wanted to marry a woman of faith and character. Character was the single most important thing to me. And by, from my perspective, the grace of God, I met a woman of character and faith, wasn’t really… didn’t care about money or that kind of thing, which, when I met her whilst in the middle of the whole takeover thing, she was American just visiting Australia at the time.

Warwick F:
And we’ve been married a little over 30 years. And that, as I’ve maybe mentioned before, is such a blessing. And I loved her very much when we were married. And I love her more now. I loved her a lot back then. So, that… So, I don’t take that for granted. Like with any relationship, you’ve got to be humble and help each other, serve each other, and all of that. But… At least that’s a different course than my father had. My kids have not grown up in a broken home. So, that’s a big difference.

Gary S:
And part of what is undoubtedly helping you right now work your way through what you described as the frustration, the wistfulness, even the anger a little bit, that you felt when you saw that photograph of your dad and you thought about some of the decisions he made in life. Part of… A huge part of what’s helping you through that is focusing on, changing your perspective, getting your gaze off of what went before that you couldn’t control, and then putting your gaze on those things that are before you that you’re living in right now that are blessings.

Gary S:
And I want to share with listeners, because I think this fits with that. And that’s… This isn’t the holiday that we’re in now. It’s passed. It was Thanksgiving. But Abraham Lincoln was the president who established a national day of Thanksgiving. And it’s not widely known. It’s not talked about every year at Thanksgiving. But he issued his proclamation for Thanksgiving on October 3, 1863. That was just two weeks after more than 34,000 Americans were killed or wounded in the Battle of, I’m going to pronounce it wrong, Chickamauga, in the Civil War. And this is what he wrote in his proclamation. So, as you think about those things behind you, those things that have gone bad, those things that feel hard, think of what Lincoln’s saying here, and then what he says in the end.

Gary S:
But this is what he wrote. “The year that is drawing toward it’s close has been has been filled with the blessings of fruitful fields and beautiful skies.” So, he’s already looking ahead. He’s seeing things that aren’t that terrible devastation of war. “To these bounties which are so constantly enjoyed that we’re prone to forget the source from which they come, others have been added which are of so extraordinary in nature, they cannot fail to penetrate and soften even the heart, which is habitually insensible to the ever watchful providence of Almighty God. In the midst of a Civil War of unequal magnitude and severity, peace has been preserved with all nations, order has been maintained, the laws have been respected and obeyed, and harmony has prevailed everywhere, except in the theater of military conflict.

Gary S:
“Needful diversions of wealth and of strength from the fields of peaceful industry to the national defence, have not arrested the plough, the shuttle or the ship; the axe has enlarged the borders of our settlements. And the country, rejoicing in the consciousness of augmented strength and vigor, is permitted to expect continuance of years with large increase of freedom.” This is how he ends it. “It has seemed to me fit and proper that these gifts should be solemnly, reverently, and gratefully acknowledged as with one heart and one voice by the whole American People.”

Gary S:
That, to me, is just incredible, that at that point in the Civil War, two weeks after one of the bloodiest days in the Civil War, he could see those blessings, those positive things. And I think about that when you say, despite what you’ve been going through, as you’ve looked back and you’ve felt remorse and regret over some things that were in your past, caused by your forebears, you look at your wife and your family, and you see those blessings. You see those things that give you riotous thanksgiving.

Warwick F:
Wow. That’s so well said. Just for Lincoln to be thankful amidst the horrors of the Civil War, which at the time was the most horrific war, hundreds of thousands, enormous number of soldiers died. I think it wasn’t… War World One, sadly, was worse. But at the time, in the history of humankind, more people died during that war than any other war in history. It was just staggering. So, to be thankful amidst that is… It’s just hard to even fathom. But… Yeah. I mean, I think…

Gary S:
And that was… Let me say this. Let me just add this one thing.

Warwick F:
Sure.

Gary S:
That was something from an editorial. I used to be editorial page editor of a newspaper in Palms Spring California. And I wrote an editorial about this on Thanksgiving in 1999. But here’s how I ended that, just to bridge to the point you’re about to make. I said, “If Lincoln could find such abundant reason to be thankful in the thick of war, how difficult can it really be for us. Take a few minutes today,” I urged readers, “after the pumpkin pie and before the football game,” it was Thanksgiving, “to look around your life. Even if it seems more battlefield than bountiful right now, you too can permit yourself to expect a continuance of whatever blessings you find there.”

Warwick F:
Yeah. That’s so well said. Not many of us are going through the kind of crucible that… As divided as the country is now, that’s a whole nother level of division that the country was going through in the Civil War. So yeah, we can… Despite our circumstances, we can always be grateful. And kind of as I was mentioning earlier, I tried to learn from, frankly, some of the mistakes of my forebears, and my dad, because of the way he was raised. I think certainly my older two siblings from my father’s first marriage, they were raised by nannies to a degree. This is like the 1930s. My dad and his first wife went to England for like a year, and they had small kids that were like, I don’t know, 6, 3, somewhere around there.

Warwick F:
It’s just unbelievable you would sort of leave small kids alone for so long. But people did that back then, wealthy families. So for us… Yeah, we maybe would have a babysitter once in a while, but we wanted to raise our kids ourselves, which sounds pretty normal, but it’s… For wealthy people, which I didn’t, you know… I wasn’t at the same level as my parents when my kids were small. I just wanted to be around them. I didn’t want to be this workaholic dad that was never around.

Gary S:
Right.

Warwick F:
I was there at their soccer games, or dance recitals, whatever. And, as I think I’ve mentioned before, we do cards, family birthdays, or we say what we most admire about people.

Gary S:
I’m going to steal that idea, by the way. I’ve loved that ever since you brought it up the first time.

Warwick F:
And what’s amazing is my boys, who are more athletic, they got Gale’s genes. And my daughter got my genes, which is not quite as athletic. They all say, “Well, thanks dad. You were there at my soccer game, my tennis game, my dance recital.” So, we’ve chartered our own course. And it doesn’t mean we haven’t made mistakes. But just… My kids didn’t grow up in a broken home. We were present parents. We were there. We’ve tried to encourage them. We try not to tell them what to do. So yeah, I’m sure we’ve made our own course… made our own mistakes. But we’ve chartered our own course.

Warwick F:
And so, I’m grateful for a loving wife, loving kids. My kids are all in their 20s. Because of COVID, they’re all with us right now. So, that is amazing. And we all get on. That doesn’t mean to say there’s not the odd speed bump here and there, but I have a lot to be thankful for. We have a beautiful home. My wife has an interior design background, and so… She’s a fantastic cook, which doesn’t… You’re not always a good cook if you’re an interior designer, but she’s a great cook. But she also knows how to make the house look so wonderful. Her grandfather was born in Norway, so you’ve got some Norwegian viking little figures around the place. And we’ve got our own traditions. And I’ve got so much to be thankful, so much blessing.

Warwick F:
So I think, when you start feeling melancholy… And maybe not everybody is as blessed as, frankly, I am or we are. But focus on, what are you grateful for? What are the things that you feel blessed? And I think don’t focus on the negative, especially the negative you can’t control, whether it’s broke… Yeah. Broken relationships, maybe there are some things you can do. But it’s not all way… You can’t always solve everything yourself. So, don’t get overly melancholy about loss, even if it’s the happy memories, the sad memories. Think about the things you’re grateful for, the things you have now, that are such a blessing. And reflect on maybe…

Warwick F:
Rather than focusing on the negative. I could focus on the negative decisions: the 2.25 billion dollar takeover, and 150 year old family business going out of the family, and the mistakes I made which caused some rift in the family. I could focus on all of that. But focus on maybe some of the positive things. It sounds a bit too much of ego, but it’s okay maybe to be thankful for maybe some of the good decisions you’ve made. As a person of faith, it’s a lot easier for me. Because I can say, “Thank you God.” Because I view it as His wisdom and His guidance that have helped me make hopefully a few good decisions. So, I really more turn the thanks back to Him rather than to me. So, gratitude is a huge way of kind of dealing with what can be the crucible experience of the melancholy/wistful feelings of the holidays.

Gary S:
Yeah. And you, in addition to the personal blessings that you’ve talked about… You’ve shared, on this show many times, professionally speaking, things… There are those who will look at you still, and say, “My goodness. You could have run a 2.2… a multi billion dollar media empire. It could still be going. And you could be Bill Gates. And you could be all that stuff. And professionally, you could have all this influence.” But you’ve carved out a professional niche that you’re quite blessed by, I know.

Warwick F:
Yeah. Part of charting your own course… Obviously, I’ve talked a bit about family and how my wife and I want to approach that. And fortunately, 80, 90… 95% of the time, on any major decision, we’re in agreement, which is an unbelievable blessing, I’ve got to say. But professionally… Yeah. I could be all kind of, “Oh my gosh. I could have been this powerful media mogul.” And we’re very very comfortable, but I could have been more than very very comfortable, and had multi millions or billions or something, and I don’t know what, the way the uber wealthy are, a house in the south of France, another one in Aspen, and dotted around the place, maybe the Maldives. I don’t know. Pick your favorite spot. And some do, and that’s fine. But I’m not as well known. I don’t have the accolades my forebears… I think I’ve mentioned in an earlier podcast, my dad was a knight, had the same name as I have. So, he was Sir Warwick. And his dad was Sir James. And then, Sir James Reading. I don’t have a knighthood, but okay. So, I could look to the things I don’t have, the big family business, the respect and accolades. My Wikipedia entry is not particularly favorable. It’s young hot headed kid, could have had it all, doesn’t have it.

Warwick F:
So, I could focus on that. But really, what I should be focusing on, which I like to think I do most of the time is… I’ve moved on from that, from a variety of experiences I’ve mentioned, through working at an aviation services company, and financial analysis, and business analysis, to being executive coach, to being an elder at my non denominational church and on the… I have been, in the past, been on the board of my kids’ school… to now, with Crucible Leadership. I have a book on Crucible Leadership that will come out next year. We have this podcast, Beyond the Crucible, active on social media. I have a blog. And I’m also blessed to have an unbelievable team, obviously, you and I. I’m blessed to have you on the team, the folks at Signal, Keri for the book sales, Steve on the podcast side.

Warwick F:
I’m so blessed. I’ve charted my own course. I love what I do, helping people think of how crucibles, as you so aptly say at the end of every podcast, how crucibles don’t have to be the end of your story, they can be the beginning of an exciting new chapter. I’m really, really blessed, not only personally, but professionally. And I have charted my own course. I love what I do. So really, that’s another key is… Hopefully, you have charted your own course. If you haven’t, maybe now would be a good time to reflect not just on, hopefully, the happy memories in the past. But reflect on, “Okay. Maybe I’ve made mistakes. Maybe I’ve made choices that weren’t too good.” I’ve certainly spoken a lot about the choices I’ve made, certainly professionally, that weren’t so good, and that impacted wider family members.

Warwick F:
But now is the time when maybe you can think of, “What do I want my life personally and professionally to be like?” We can’t control a lot of things in life. We can’t control the COVID pandemic. We can be safe and sane and all that. When the vaccine comes out, that will help. But what we can control is our choices. Every day, we get to make a choice, many choices. Our lives are a whole sum of choices. Our lives, our health, our legacy, is a sum of choices and decisions. We can’t change our past choices and our past decisions. But we can change the ones today and tomorrow. So, think about, “What course do I want to chart? How is it in line with my values, and what I believe in, and what I think is important?”

Warwick F:
Today, that’s something that we should focus on. Focus on what you can change today. And focus on the future. What do you want your life to be like? What course do you want to chart?

Gary S:
That is almost like you knew I had this book here, and I was going to say this. And you didn’t. You didn’t know. We haven’t talked about this. You were just talking about focus on the future. This is a quote from Bono, the lead singer of U2, and a rock star who probably has a home in the south of France and all that stuff. But here’s what Bono said about the future.

Gary S:
“I used to think the future was solid or fixed, something you inherited like an old building that you move into when the previous generation moves out or gets chased out. But it’s not. The future is not fixed. It’s fluid. You can build your own building, or hut, or condo. The world is more malleable.” I love that phrase. “The world is more malleable than you think. And it’s waiting for you to hammer it into shape.”

Warwick F:
That is such a great quote, and it’s right. We cannot change the past. Even some things about the present, we can’t necessarily change, certainly can’t change other people’s decisions and choices in life. But the future, it’s… There’s a lot about that, that we can change. We can change the decisions we want to make, how we treat people around us, both personally and professionally. We can choose to move in a direction that, as we say on Crucible Leadership, that is in line with our internal wiring. It’s in line with our gifting, in line with our values. It’s something we’re off the charts passionate about. It’s a vision that we think will make the world a better place, be it in a small way or maybe even a bigger way.

Warwick F:
The future is something that we maybe can’t control, but we can certainly control our choices, our decisions. So really, in the vein of what you mentioned earlier about one’s step, is… Over the holiday period, I guess, the question we want to ask ourselves is… Especially for those that maybe aren’t following a course, aren’t charting a course, that they’re really are excited about, that they believe is meaningful, what one decision are you going to make this holiday period, this Christmas season, this New Years season, that will move in a positive direct…

Warwick F:
I’m not a huge believer in New Years resolutions because you make them and then you forget them. But maybe a life resolution or a… What’s one small step that will take you in a direction that’s positive? Part of moving from the melancholy too, is forgiving past family members. I don’t have a lot of angst towards my dad. I deeply respected him. But maybe forgiving him for being young and maybe not making as good a choices as perhaps he could have. But part of it too is forgiving yourself. I really try to work on this. As a reminder, Tommy Breedlove talks a lot about… who we’ve had on the podcast. He talks a lot about self leadership. Well, part of self leadership is you’ve got to forgive yourself.

Warwick F:
So, I have to forgive my poor choices, professionally in the family business, and whatever other poor choices I’ve made, because you can’t control it. Learn from it, as I’ve mentioned. Absolutely, learn from it. Try not to repeat the same mistake over and over again, because history does tend to repeat itself. But forgive yourself. Forgive those around you. And move forward. There’s a scripture that talks about… I think it’s in Philippians, forgetting what is behind and moving toward what is ahead. That obviously has a faith connotation. But whatever your perspective, focus on, where do you want to move on ahead? What do you want your life to be like personally and professionally? Think of that. Value the good. Let go of the bad memories. Forgive yourself. Forgive others. And move forward, chart your own course. So, that’s really probably the key to getting out of the negative wistfulness and melancholy is be grateful for what you have. And chart your own course as you move forward.

Warwick F:
Focus on… Be grateful for the present, the bits that you should be grateful for. But focus on the future. That’s your eyes should be ahead. Your eyes should not be on the path that you’ve walked previously, or at least only as lessons learned, but not ruminating forever. So, don’t focus on the past. Don’t even focus so much on the present. Be cognizant of it, but have your eyes faced forward, looking to the hills, looking to the mountains, hopefully the rainbows. Just look forward. That’s where your focus should be.

Gary S:
That is an excellent point to begin what I often say on the show, as the captain has turned on the fasten seatbelt signs, and it’s getting time to land the plane. But because we’ve talked about Christmas, and this is going to air during the Christmas season, I’m going to say that Santa has indicated to the reindeer that it’s about time to land the sleigh. Before we do that, one thing I want to say to you, and to listeners about you, is… You’ve said many times on this show, Warwick. You’ve said many times that your Wikipedia entry… And you’ve always referenced this. It says something along the lines of brash, impetuous young kid, could have had it all.

Warwick F:
Right.

Gary S:
I would argue that, that brash impetuous young kid has grown into a man who does indeed have it all of the things that matter.

Warwick F:
Well, I don’t want… If, by saying “well said”, it makes it seem like it’s arrogant. But I can’t think of anything else to say other than “Yeah.” The wife, the family, we have the flexibility financially to… not be held back a whole lot, I have to say. Professionally, I love what I do. I have a great team. I go to a great church. I’m so blessed. I am so blessed. Yeah. Logically, I don’t have a whole lot of reason to be melancholy, but we’re human. But yeah, I feel blessed. And I think maybe others don’t have as much reason. I don’t know. But I think we can all… There are all… Most of us can think of things that we are blessed by…

Gary S:
Absolutely.

Warwick F:
… and things that we’re thankful for. You know? You looked at that photograph of your family. I’m sure you look back at your mom and relatives, and you think, “Okay. Everything wasn’t all roses and peaches and cream, but there were things to be thankful for.”

Gary S:
Absolutely.

Warwick F:
Obviously, you’re thankful for your current life and… You know?

Gary S:
Yeah. And the guy-

Warwick F:
Got kids, a wife… Your life hasn’t been perfect, but you’ve got a lot to be thankful for too. Right?

Gary S:
Absolutely. My big brother, who’s 14 years older than me, who was holding me in that photo, he lives now… I’m back in my hometown. He’s my best friend. We’ve grown closer together over the years. He was holding me just because he was the only one that wouldn’t drop me in that picture. And now, we’re actually… We’re closer than brothers. We’re as close as brothers and great friends. So, that is entirely true.

Gary S:
As we wrap up, as the sleigh touches down, connect, for listeners, the dots, Warwick to… from the beginning, when you talked about the picture of your dad and the wistfulness that, that sort of brought to you, and the sadness in some senses, and this idea of charting your own course. Bring those two points together as we put the reindeer on the ground.

Warwick F:
Indeed. I think I can look at that photo and be angry, wistful. It’s like… Well, short of heaven, where I’m sure that’s where John Fairfax is, I’m not going to meet him on this earth. I’m not going to meet these relatives from three or four generations ago. And that’s okay. Let it go. Let go of the fact that my dad made some decisions, not all of which were good. Well, I’ve made some decisions, not all of which were good. Just let it go. Be grateful for the blessings that you have, but just let it go. Just kind of open your arms, open your hands, and just kind of let it go. It’s like, whew, let it go, breathe it out. It’s okay. Don’t obsess over it. Be grateful. So, let go of…

Warwick F:
Even the good and bad memories, if they’re pulling you down… That which pulls you down, you need to let go of, even the good, which sounds a bit contradiction in terms. Be grateful for what you have, family, professionally. And then, as we say in Chart You Own Course, think of the future. What do you want your legacy to be on your death bed? We talk a lot about life of significance for a reason. What do you want your life of significance? A life on purpose, dedicated to serving others. How is charting your own course fueling a life of significance that, when you’re on your deathbed, and when others are eulogizing you, what are they going to be saying in that eulogy? What do you want them to say? You can influence that today.

Warwick F:
So, focus on the future, focus on a life of significance, focus on a life that you and others around you will be proud of. That should be… The future, and as you chart your own course to a life of significance, that’s really where you should devote a bit more energy to than over reflecting about the past, when it doesn’t serve you and pulls you down.

Gary S:
And with that, I can see that Rudolph has dimmed his red nose. The sleigh’s on the ground. Santa’s scrambling out to deliver presents.

Warwick F:
And you need to give a shout out speaking of Rudolph, to the blog you just wrote. Because it will be great if listeners could read that, because you can’t mention Rudolph without mentioning the blog.

Gary S:
Yes. There’s a blog at crucibleleadership.com, thank you for the plug, Warwick. At crucibleleadership.com, if you click on Blog, you’ll see a holiday themed blog which extracts pivotal crucible leadership learnings from the story of Rudolph the Red Nosed Reindeer, and that beloved special that we’ve all seen, dating back to its premier in 1964. So, hopefully you enjoy that. Hopefully, listener, you’ve enjoyed this episode of Beyond the Crucible. Thank you as always for spending your time with us. You can learn more about not just the blog, but about Crucible Leadership. We have some very interesting things going on there.

Gary S:
Visit crucibleleadership.com, poke around a little bit. You’ll find some resources, including an assessment you can take to see where you are on your journey to move beyond your crucible. You can find out your profile. Are you an imagineer? Where are you at on the road? And then, what is your personality profile as you’re traveling that road? So, check that out at crucibleleadership.com.

Gary S:
And, until we’re together the next time, do remember the essence of what we’ve talked about here. And I’m not going to do what I do often and say, “Here’s three takeaways.” Because I think the key takeaway of this episode is… goes back to Warwick, what he said a couple podcasts ago and he repeated here. And that is, what’s the one small step you can take, as you want to move beyond this crucible of some of the tensions and trials and things that can be associated with the holiday season? Take that step. Find your blessings. Take that step. And, as Bono says, “Get out your hammer and start shaping your future.”

Gary S:
Because our crucible experiences, as we’ve talked about here and as we talk about every week, are not the end of your story. If you learn the lessons of them, if you apply the lessons of them, if you recognize the blessings amid them, it’s far from the end of your story. It’s, in fact, the beginning of a new story which can be the most rewarding story of your life, which can be the story that leads your virtual Wikipedia entry, if you don’t have a real Wikipedia entry, to say that you are indeed someone who has it all. And that is because, when you learn the lessons of your crucible and you apply them and you move beyond your crucible, you find your way to a life of significance.

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