Warwick’s New Book: Listen All About It #87

Warwick Fairfax

October 12, 2021

In advance of the Oct. 19 release of host Warwick Fairfax’s book, CRUCIBLE LEADERSHIP: EMBRACE YOUR TRIALS TO LEAD A LIFE OF SIGNIFICANCE, he and cohost Gary Schneeberger discuss the key building blocks inside its pages. You’ll hear helpful, hopeful details — from Warwick’s own journey and the stories of some of history’s greatest leaders — about the importance of embracing your crucible, discovering your purpose, crafting your vision and leading and living with impact. You’ll also get your first extended glimpse into why CRUCIBLE LEADERSHIP has been called “equal parts memoir and master class,” “moving and vulnerable,” “a gift” and “a must for all leaders” filled with “nuggets of leadership gold.”

To explore Crucible Leadership resources, and to pre-order CRUCIBLE LEADERSHIP: EMBRACE YOUR TRIALS TO LEAD A LIFE OF SIGNIFICANCE, visit www.crucibleleadership.com/book

Highlights

  • Why BEYOND THE CRUCIBLE is not a typical leadership book (2:25)
  • Section I: Embrace Your Crucible (7:25)
  • Warwick’s crucible (11:09)
  • Why the emotional trauma hurt more than losing $2.25 billion and the the family
  • media company (13:25)
  • The lessons he learned from his crucible (15:34)
  • The three strands of the book’s structure (18:39)
  • How John Fairfax refused to be stopped by his crucible (19:33)
  • Section II: Discover Your Purpose (21:49)
  • Faith centrality is moving beyond a crucible (22:14)
  • Lessons from George Washington in discovering your purpose (25:18)
  • Section III: Craft Your Vision (28:36)
  • How Warwick found his vision (34:52)
  • Lessons in vision from Walt Disney (41:45)
  • Section IV: To Live and Lead with Impact (45:01)
  • The importance of perseverance (47:12)
  • Lessons in perseverance from Winston Churchill (50:30)
  • Preview of next week’s episode (54:47)

Transcript

Warwick F:

Welcome to Beyond the Crucible. I’m Warwick Fairfax, the founder of the Crucible Leadership. How do you have that level of perseverance? And this is where I think it all comes together. It comes from not letting your worst day define your life. It comes from having an anchor for your soul or your faith, whatever that means to you. It comes from living that faith out in character, humility and integrity. It comes from not living your parents or friends design, a vision, your own vision, based in your own wiring and design. And it comes with having a vision often formed out of the ashes of your crucible that you feel will make the world a better place, that will help impact the world and really help folks live a life of significance.

Gary S:

That friends is Warwick describing some of the insight and inspiration he’s packed into his book, Crucible Leadership: Embrace Your Trials to Lead a Life of Significance. I’m Gary Schneeberger, his cohost. If you’re listening to this episode the day or soon after it goes live, Warwick’s book releases in just a few days on October 19. If you’re getting to our discussion a little later, what are you waiting for? Press pause, visit crucibleleadership.com, click on the book tab and order your copy today. If you can’t wait to read it, the good news is you don’t have to wait to learn more about what’s in it. Warwick talks on this week’s episode about the key building blocks of the book described by one endorser as equal parts, memoir and masterclass. You’ll hear helpful, hopeful details about the importance of embracing your crucible, discovering your purpose, crafting your vision and leading and living with impact. They are all critical way-points that will guide your journey to a life of significance.

Gary S:

The first question I wanted to ask you so that you can frame this up for listeners is that while on the back of the book here it says the sections in bookstore shelves, you’ll find it virtual and brick and mortar is in leadership. This is not a traditional leadership book, is it?

Warwick F:

No, it’s not. A lot of people write leadership books that basically look at me, I was super successful, follow my example. And it just doesn’t offer five clear linear points, it’s more a collection of stories and parables anchored by my story as well as the story of my dad’s, Sir Warwick Fairfax, my great great grandfather, John Fairfax, stories of historical, inspirational, faith leaders. So it’s really a collection of parables and stories about what it means to bounce back from your worst day from crucibles to live a life of significance. So it’s not I’m so wonderful, follow me, because look how successful I am, but it’s a very different leadership book.

Gary S:

And there is an aspect. There is an aspect to it, not follow me, but here’s the lessons I’ve learned. You talk about those lessons and what people can learn from them so they can move beyond their own crucibles. That’s a fair point, right?

Warwick F:

Absolutely. A lot of it’s more I made some mistakes in my young and youthful, naive and idealistic days. And I think my motives were fine, but definitely made some mistakes. So a lot of it’s here’s some of the lessons I’ve learned, because I think one of our premises, when you go through a crucible, there are lessons to be learned, there are always lessons to be learned. And so that’s a key theme of the book is learning the lessons of your crucible and seeking to find a life of significance, a vision for your life, from the ashes of that crucible.

Gary S:

Excellent. Well, enough preamble, listener. Let’s get into the meat. And there’s plenty of meat in this book. How we’re going to do this, just so you know I feel like a pastor at a sermon, here’s the three points I’m going to make and then we make the points. We’re going to go through four sections. Warwick begins the book with laying out four sections of the book. I’m going to give you all the sections and then we’re going to break into and talk about each section individually. The first section is to embrace your crucible, the second section, part two, discover your purpose, third section, craft your vision, fourth section, live and lead with impact.

Gary S:

And what we’re going to do is we draw through this outline as Warwick is going to talk a little bit about not just what’s in the book, but what his story was, his own crucible experience that led to him writing the book and some of the lessons that he’s learned from family members, in some cases, some of the lessons learned from some of history’s greatest leaders. It’s not quite an audio book, although there is one of those coming. It’s not quite a documentary about the book, but it’s going to give you a really good grounding in what the book’s about so that when the book comes out, you’ll have an idea, one week from today, if you’re listening on the day that this goes live. One week from today, the book is out. It’ll give you a grounding to know what it is you’re going to get.

Gary S:

So let’s start, Warwick, with part one, which I remember early on when we were working together and the manuscript was coming through the process and I was looking at it and embrace your crucible. I’m like, wow. That’s like embrace barbed wire for some people. I think of my crucibles is like I don’t want to put my arms around that. But the idea of embrace your crucible, why is it that it’s not just survive your crucible, hold your breath and get through it? But the idea about embracing your crucible, what is the benefit, the need, the necessity of that?

Warwick F:

Yeah, just thinking about the image you mentioned, embrace barbed wire, hug it, yeah, it does sound so strange. And that’s not a bad metaphor, because crucibles, literally it’s like molten metal heated to a very high temperature that forms something new. Well, crucibles are always painful. It could be your fault, not your fault. On our podcast, Beyond the Crucible, we’ve had every kind of crucible from people being paralyzed, abuse, business failure. And it’s always painful. But really what we talk about here at Crucible Leadership is you have a choice with a crucible experience. You can either hide under the covers and say, “This wasn’t fair, this wasn’t right, this is so painful, I’m just going to lie here for the next 30, 40, 50 years until life inevitably ends.”

Warwick F:

Or you can say, “This was awful, painful, but how can I move forward?” And ultimately the key premise of the book is how can I move forward and live a life of significance, a life on purpose dedicated to serving others. So really a crucible provides the ultimate inflection point. Do you give up on life or do you continue and try to find good, try to find purpose and meaning out of that pain? And so it’s a binary choice that all of us face.

Gary S:

And that it’s interesting that you just talked about crucibles, what they are, why you have to learn from them, how you learn from a little bit. And we’ll unpack that a lot, listener, as we go on. But you also talked at the end there about the goal is a life of significance. And it occurs to me that Warwick’s just done what you’re not supposed to do with a book. He’s flipped to the back pages to let you know what the ending is. And the ending is here’s your life of significance. That’s your goal of the end game of moving beyond your crucible is to move into a life of significance. So that’s the arc that we’re going to discuss today. That’s the arc Warwick has lived, that’s the arc many of our guests have lived and it’s certainly the arc of the book.

Gary S:

So by way of getting us started here in the digging in the dirt of what happened in your life, what was your crucible? Tell listeners a little bit about how you got introduced to the idea of crucibles in a very painful, personal way.

Warwick F:

Yes. I went through a very public crucible. So I grew up in a 150 year old family media business in Australia founded by my great, great grandfather, John Fairfax. So I’ll chat about in a moment. But by the time I grew up, this had grown into a very large media company. It had magazines, newspapers, TV stations, radio stations. It had the Australian equivalent of the New York Times, Washington Post and Wall Street Journal, a mammoth company. So I was a fifth generation and by the time I came around, I was seen as the heir apparent, a little bit like the royal family as I sometimes think. I had about as much choice of not to go into it as Prince William does of saying to his grandmother or dad, “I don’t think this is for me. It’s no.” So I spent my growing up, preparing myself, undergrad at Oxford like my dad had some other relatives; Wall Street, Harvard Business School. Came back in ’87. My dad died in early ’87. I was from his third marriage. He was in his 80s. Launched this $2.25 billion takeover.

Gary S:

Stop for a second and repeat that number and make sure people heard 2.25 what?

Warwick F:

Billion. It’s unfortunately with a B, 2.25 billion. And so I said, unfortunately, because things went wrong from the start, other family members sold out. They didn’t want to be in a privatized company controlled by a 26 year old, which I think, I guess makes sense. Three years later, the debt was so high that when Australia got in a big recession, the company went bankrupt. So I was trying to preserve it in the image of the founder, had to be well managed, top of being taken over by corporate raiders. And what I did, directly led to it falling out of family hands. So that in a nutshell is my crucible.

Gary S:

Right. Now, there are myriad reasons why that could be painful. One, is that word that starts with a B. Others are emotional. We have seen on this show, we’ve heard on the show from guests who have experienced both, who have experienced financial setbacks not quite at the level that you have experienced them, but also the emotional setbacks. And one of the things I say all the time as the co-host of the show is, “Okay, guest C, your physical crucible is nothing like what Warwick’s gone through, but the emotions are the same.” And emotionally, you’ve said many times, emotionally, it was harder than what happened to you financially. Can you explain just a little bit about what happened to you emotionally in public and how that affected you?

Warwick F:

Yeah, fair point. Obviously, this was major news. It was the front covers of all newspapers. There was a headline sanying banks end Fairfax era. There was savage editorial cartoons. My wife’s American, which was fortunate at the time. So we left Australia in late 1990, and I’ve lived in the US ever since. So I felt like I couldn’t move on with my life in Australia. And the issue wasn’t so much the massive sum of money that I guess I lost. It was more just the sense I let my parents down, ancestors. We had 4,000 plus employees. It was like a $700 million company. Now, they didn’t lose their jobs per se, but it was more just instability. Who’s going to buy us, what’s going to happen.

Warwick F:

And so my self esteem was crushed. And because the founder was a strong person of faith as I am, I felt like God had this vision to resurrect the company in the image of the founder or have at least be run along his principles. So I felt like there was almost this divine crucible that I had let God down. So really it just devastated my sense of self and self esteem. So yeah, that was the hardest part of my crucible.

Gary S:

Here’s the good news, listener. We’ve gotten to the point where we’re done talking about the negative pain parts of things. And now we’re going to turn a little bit, because the purpose of the book is not, as I say on the podcast, as we say on the podcast every week, it’s not to wallow in those things that happened. And there’s no wallowing here. Warwick does talk in his book about what he went through. And we’ll go through the emotional beats and also what he did for living beats, those kinds of things that happened, the self esteem beats. But really, Warwick, what you talk about, the idea of embracing your crucible is that from embracing your crucible, you pick up, you learn some things that are important in guiding you on the journey back from your crucible.

Gary S:

So I’m just going to throw out a couple of words to you that you discuss in the first section of the book and let you pick which ones you want to talk about. You talk about the importance of having an anchor for your soul, having something outside yourself that’s firm, that’s bedrock, so that when the winds come and it feels like you’re getting blown over, you got something to hang on to. And you talk about the power, the necessity of authenticity. The worst thing you can do in the wake of a crucible is to pretend it didn’t happen, stick your head in the ground, just everything’s fine and dandy.

Gary S:

We’ve all heard stories about that, right? The person who rents the big expensive car, and they’re trying to project… I guess we just had recently, Dov Baron, called it an Instagram life. You don’t want to do that. You want to live authentically. So explain a little bit from your perspective, why is it important to have an anchor, pursue authenticity? Pick one of those two words that you think is most important for people to know. And again, the whole thing is unpacked in the book.

Warwick F:

Yeah. The whole concept of find an anchor for your soul, I really think of this image of you’re on a ship and there’s just a massive gale, there’s huge storms, and you’ve got to cling to something, you dig your fingernails into the wooden mast on a sailing ship, and what’s the anchor that’s going to get you through the storm of your crucible? And for me, it’s my faith and faith in Christ. It could be faith in something else which we’ll broader, which we’ll get into. But you’ve got to find amidst the storm, amidst almost this whirlpool, you’ve got to find an anchor and find a way just to keep being yourself. Don’t like fake it till you make it kind of thing. It’s just be real, don’t pretend I’m fine, I’m fine, I’m good. It’s like you don’t have to get into every detail with people, but be real. But yeah, amidst the storm, you’ve got to find an anchor for your soul. Otherwise, you’ll get sucked into a vortex and you want to escape. So it’s like a lifeline. It’s critical to find that anchor, whatever that means to you.

Gary S:

Yeah. And what you just said in addition to finding that anchor, be you. And that’s the importance of authenticity, which is extraordinarily important as well. One of the things I love about the book, Warwick, is that it really is three strands in essence. There’s your story, there’s a bit of memoir to it, what you went through, there’s the principles that you learned from that, and then there are that other people can learn from as well that you impart to people to help them on their journeys.

Gary S:

And then you tell some stories of family members of sometimes historical and religious figures, spiritual figures, as you think about this idea of embracing your crucible. As a means of starting a journey to get you to a life of significance, you talk about finding an anchor, you talk about authenticity. Is there a story? And there are many. We don’t have time, unfortunately, to unpack every one of them. Buy the book and you can do that now, listener. You can read every one of those stories. But is there a story that comes to mind to you, Warwick, about what we’ve just been talking about, what you’ve just been unpacking?

Warwick F:

Yeah, there is. I think about the life of John Fairfax, a man of great faith and he had his own crucible in which he made a choice not to let it defeat him or define him.

Gary S:

And let me stop just for a second to say, John Fairfax, for people who do not know is your great, great grandfather, the founder of the company. Yeah.

Warwick F:

Indeed. Absolutely. So yeah, he came out from England in the late 1830s to Australia. And the crucible that drove him out was he had a small paper in England and he wrote an article about a local magistrate, a local lawyer, and the lawyer sued him twice. Now, the judge found in John Fairfax’s favor saying, “Look, the article was accurate.” But the court costs ended up bankrupting him. So the judge said, yep, what you said was right, but he was so fed up with the whole thing. He decided to leave England. He was bankrupted by the whole thing and moved to Australia. He ended up buying into the Sydney Morning Herald in 1841. And ended up growing it into a huge company.

Warwick F:

So he didn’t let that setback define him. He was willing to move forward. And he had this vision of a newspaper that would be independent. It’s masthead was, may Whigs call me Tory, Tory call me Whig, which basically in modern language may conservative call me liberal call me conservative. So he had this vision of an independent paper that would help grow the young colony of Australia. So he did not let, as we say, his own worst day of being bankrupted in England define his life. He chose to move forward. It’s a tremendous example of embracing a crucible.

Gary S:

Yeah. And the generations that it affected after that, the legacy that came from that, the legacy you’re still living is a remarkable one. Okay. There’s section one of what we’re talking about, about embracing your crucible. Okay. I’ve done that, says the listener. I’ve embraced it, I’m trying to learn lessons from it. What then happens after that? And the second section that we talked about that the book deals with is discovering your purpose. You mentioned earlier, Warwick, that you felt like that you inherited your purpose from your great, great grandfather and your fore-bearers after that.

Gary S:

This section of the book, fascinating. And again, here are some subjects that come up in there; humility, integrity, servant leadership, self sacrifice, character. You talk about those things in great detail, why they’re important, why they were important to you, why they were important to your family members, your father and your great, great grandfather in particular. But what you really pull on and focus on in that section is faith. I know it’s important to you to explain not only how faith helped you, but what you mean when you share that with people who are coming through a crucible, when you talk about the importance of having faith. You talked earlier about an anchor to hold onto, for you it’s faith. You believe it’s faith in a general sense. For others, unpack that a little bit from your perspective and then from the perspective that you try to coach people on.

Warwick F:

Yeah, it’s a good question, Gary. Basically, it fleshes out this concept of find an anchor for your soul. I talk about in the book faith in the general sense. I’m clear about my own Christian faith, which there was a legacy of that in my family going back to my great, great grandfather, John Fairfax. For me, it was through an evangelical Anglican church when I was at Oxford University where I committed my life to Christ, so to speak. But as well get into, I’m an executive coach at heart and by profession. So I believe everybody has the God given right, so to speak, to choose their own path. So when I say faith, everybody has to find their path, find their anchor. So it could be a major religion such as Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism. It could be a philosophy, a set of values and beliefs.

Warwick F:

We all have values and beliefs. So whatever that is, don’t ignore that, don’t ignore what you believe, and I’m not telling you what it should be. You have to figure that out for yourself, it’s your right to find your path or whatever that is, your way back from your crucible, your way forward in life. To lead a joyful fulfilling, a life of significance, is based on that anchor, based on whatever your values and beliefs. So it’s really important. It’s not about listening to other people, it’s more listen to yourself, listen to your soul, live in light and in harmony with your soul of who you truly are.

Gary S:

All right. I’m getting back to embracing my co-host responsibilities. And we’re going to mash up two game shows here. We’re going to mash up the price is right where we’re going to spin a wheel for something. So you can pick a story, spin the wheel and pick a story, and then we’ll do it a little bit with like the Fast Money round in Family Feud, so we can get it done in about two or three minutes. So what story in your book really had the most impact on you in writing and in telling that, that you think will be instructive for readers?

Warwick F:

Yeah. In terms of the whole discover your purpose, George Washington, the first president of the United States, he was called the indispensable man of character. One of the themes in this section of the book. True faith has its outworking in how you live, humility, integrity. If it doesn’t manifest itself in how you live, then what use is it, frankly?

Gary S:

What’s the fruit of what you say you believe, right?

Warwick F:

Exactly, right. And so he was called by some pretty amazing contemporaries, George III, who he defeated. George III of England said he must be the greatest man in the world. Napoleon after, he was exiled on the island of Elba, said they wanted me to be another Washington. Well, why did they say that? Because really at the height of his power, he gave it up voluntarily in like 1783 Treaty of Paris. Britain recognized US independence. There was a bunch of generals in the so called Newburgh Conspiracy that said, “Hey, General Washington, we don’t think we’ve been treated fairly, our pay has been locked up in politics and Congress.” It’s funny politics existed even back then.

Gary S:

It was dirtier back then. It was even dirtier.

Warwick F:

Yeah, bureaucracy. And so he said, “Look, this is not what we’re about. We didn’t fight this war for me to be a dictator.” And so then later on in 1783, then, believe it or not, capital of the United States or what would be Annapolis, which is where I live in Maryland coincidentally, he basically said, “I retire from the theater of action.” He just said, “I’m going to go back to Virginia.” And he had no intention of ever being in public life. That’s why George III called him the greatest man in history. Now, as it happened, the country wasn’t done with him. And so in 1789, he was elected president by the electoral college unanimously, the only president to receive 100% of the vote. Doubt that will ever happen again.

Gary S:

No.

Warwick F:

And so why was he elected by everybody? Because of his character. He wasn’t a military genius. He lost more battles than he won. But he was a man of immense character. He truly lived his beliefs. So it’s just an incredible example of a person walking the talk.

Gary S:

Yeah. And what I love about what you just said before we move on to the next section is that when we started to talk about discover your purpose, we talked about some of the building blocks of faith, of what we’re talking about. We talked about humility, integrity, servant leadership. I just listed them off, self sacrifice, character. What you just described about Washington in that very short story hit on all of those, right?

Warwick F:

Absolutely.

Gary S:

It checks all of those boxes. Those are the things. It was funny to me as you were talking about what people said about what his contemporaries, even those, not that he didn’t just defeat George, he separated from his country. He left. He broke off. I’d love to see if LinkedIn was around at the time, the recommendations that would be on George Washington’s LinkedIn page. That would be fascinating. Next, we’re going to move on to the third section of the book, which is craft your vision. Vision is an important word. Craft is an important word in that section, craft your vision. But I think the most important word would you agree is your right, because you can craft a vision that somebody else’s, you can craft a vision you think the world needs it. But talk about why it’s so critical to craft your own vision, and then how you did that in your own life.

Warwick F:

Yeah. Basically, you can’t inherit a vision. It’s often in families. Maybe your mom or dad was a lawyer, a banker, accountant, doctor, whatever. It’s like, well, you know what? This is a good business, it’s a good way of making a livelihood, I can get you in, I’m certainly networked in my profession. And there’s some logic there, but what happens if you don’t have the innate wiring to be a doctor or a lawyer? Maybe that’s not your passion, maybe you just want to paint, maybe you want to play music, maybe you love math, maybe you want to be an engineer. It’s not about just following what your family or friends say is logical, you want to live in light of your design and have a vision that you care about.

Warwick F:

And I was in a sense the poster child of, in a sense, what not to do in that growing up in this 150, our family business, a bit like the royal family, it was, as they say in the US military, a duty, honor, country thing. I felt like I had no choice. So I spent my whole life trying to prepare myself to one day take a leading position, as I mentioned, at Oxford, Wall Street, Harvard Business School. Not because I was passionate about going to business school, it was all about fulfilling a role. And so when the whole company went under, it’s like, “Well, now what do I do with my life?” I was age 30. And it’s like I had no clue. It took me years which is a whole other story to find out but you don’t want to live somebody else’s vision. You can’t inherit a vision. You have really the God given right to follow your own path, live your own life. It doesn’t mean dishonoring your parents and friends. Be you, be real, be authentic, follow your own vision.

Gary S:

There are a couple of things you say in the book. And this would be a good time since we’re probably about halfway through the episode to do a public service announcement. Here’s the book, if you’re watching on YouTube, it’s Crucible Leadership: Embrace Your Trials to Lead a Life of Significance, by Warwick Fairfax out October 19. Can be purchased at where all great books are sold online. You can also go to crucibleleadership.com. We have a tab on the book, give you a lot of details, including the astounding number. I can say that you can’t, you won’t, the astounding number of endorsements of people who have said things that they love about this book, including Nancy Koehn who’s a professor at Harvard Business School who said that you weave together history and his own fascinating life experience to offer a series of vital leadership insights. Whether you’re responsible for a company, a foundation, an arts organization or a government agency, you will find nuggets of leadership gold in this book. That is just one of 29 endorsements that you’ll find on the website. You’ll find many of them in the book.

Gary S:

I say all that, not to embarrass Warwick, but to frame the book that we’re talking about here in a way that you will understand that truly, it’s not just me who thinks it’s a great book or Warwick who thinks it was a worthwhile book to publish, lots of people who have read this book have great things to say about it. So back to our programming. You say a couple of things, Warwick, about crafting your vision that I think are really interesting for this discussion. One, you say the seed and they’re connected. So I’m going to ask you the question and ask you to talk about them at the same time. You say that the seeds to your vision, your unique vision are within. So unpack that a little bit. And then you also define vision, is defined in the book as a present picture of a future reality. Talk about how those two things go together. Seeds to your vision are within, and a vision is a present picture of a future reality.

Warwick F:

Yeah. I think often the seeds of your vision can come from the ashes of your crucible. Maybe you’re a cancer survivor, a victim of abuse, and you might be, I never want anybody to go through what I went through, I want to help others. A vision needs to be anchored in your design, which from my perspective, divine design. So whether you love, art, math, science, whatever it is. It’s really combination of your inherent wiring, plus crucibles often where the vision lies, not always, but it has to be something that you’re off the charts passionate about. And from my perspective, vision has to be others focused. It can’t be all about money, power, fame, some narcissistic internal deal, because every psychologist, every religion, to my knowledge, will say that does not lead to happiness or joy or fulfillment.

Warwick F:

It has to be others focused, a life of significance, a life on purpose dedicated serving others. So really the seeds of your vision are found within in that sense. And you know when you have a good vision, when you can feel it, taste it, touch it, you dream about it. When I think of John Fairfax, he was head of a local library there. And he and a buddy of his who were to found the company, they talked about this plan, the plan. And they had a vision of what the Sydney Morning Herald that they would buy was going to be like. They knew what they wanted to do. They had a dream, they had a vision. It was so compelling. They probably had trouble sleeping at night. So that’s a great vision in which you can just feel it, picture it, smell it, touch it. And it’s just compelling. It just drives you forward. That’s when you know you’ve got a great vision.

Gary S:

So how did Warwick Fairfax post takeover failing, find the seeds of his vision within? And as you teased a little bit, it wasn’t overnight. We had a guest on the show during our harnessing resilience series, Heather Kampf, who found her resilience in five seconds after she fell on a track, got up and finished the race and won. It took you a little longer. It takes a lot of people a little longer. It can take time to find the seeds of your vision within and act on them. So what was that process like for you?

Warwick F:

Yeah. It’s interesting sometimes… Typically, it’s not overnight. And for me it was steps of faith, really, steps of, from my perspective, trying to hear the Lord, some higher power, just step by step. So the first step was I worked in aviation services company in Annapolis doing finance and business analysis. From there, I felt like, from my perspective, God telling me, “You know what? You’re not using all your gifts and abilities. You’re playing small.” Nothing wrong with what I was doing, but I just felt like there was more. And so whether you think it’s God or some inner voice within yourself, whatever your perspective is, one big lesson, listen to that voice, listen to that gut. Yes, get advice from trusted folks. So I ended up leaving that company going into executive coaching

Warwick F:

After a mid career executive coach gave me an assessment, I began to find my leadership voice in the questions. And step by step, I ended up being on a couple of non-profit boards that was a good fit. And then talk in church was another pivotal moment we’ll get to, I think, later. And eventually, that led to Crucible Leadership, the podcast, the book, blogs, but it wasn’t like this grand plan. I think that’s one of the things that people need to understand. And we’ll unpack it a bit more in example of Walt Disney here in a moment. That’s a tremendous example that I’m talking about. But you might have a sense, but you don’t always have this grand plan all laid out. Just focus on what’s the next best step for me now, what do I feel within myself I need to be called? And that’s key to beginning to walk your vision out and make it happen.

Gary S:

It’s a unique GPS, isn’t it? It knows the destination, a life of significance, knows where you’re at coming out of your crucible, but it doesn’t necessarily give you all the turns, turn on this street, turn on that street. It’s a journey. We call it a journey for a reason, because you have to work that out.

Warwick F:

It might tell you what street to turn on when you’re like 100 foot or maybe 10 foot away, maybe. But, okay, what’s the next turn after that? Not telling you. Life tends to be… You could debate philosophically, theologically why that’s the case, but it just is, basically.

Gary S:

Yeah. You mentioned that Walt Disney is going to come up. Before we get there, I want to ask you a question about vision in the context of the workplace, in the context of leadership, a lot of what we’ve been talking about. And as we said at the start, the book is a leadership book. There’s also a bit of not in love with the term, can’t think of a better one, a bit of self help, a bit of self management. And then there’s also some faith components to it. But from a purely business perspective, the idea of having a vision, you have this great thing you talk about, about the importance of sharing your vision with your team as a leader and ways in which you can do that in some compromises, maybe you have to make some sacrifices, maybe a better word you have to make to do that. Unpack that a little a bit.

Warwick F:

Yeah. One of the images we use in the book is Michelangelo’s statue of David that’s in Florence that a few years ago, I actually had the pleasure of seeing. And you think of your vision is like that, it’s perfection, but you’ve got to give people the hammer and chisel which when you think your vision is perfection is tough. But what we say in the book is 80% of your vision that has 100% commitment is better than 100% of your vision with zero commitment. So you’ve got to be willing to share, to take input. We talk in that section, which we don’t have time to get into, but listening and advising, listening from a broad cross section of folks, listening to a few on your team or some advisors outside, but really to craft a great vision, you’ve got to be willing to let others play.

Warwick F:

You can’t just hold the ball in the playground and not share, because, hey, it won’t happen. But even in this stage, are there other people that can make your vision better? Is not this narcissistic, it’s all got to be mine. If you truly believe in your vision, why wouldn’t you want other people to help make it better? It’s just logical, but if you’re others focused, you’ll do that.

Gary S:

Warning, warning, danger. I’m about to embarrass Warwick, because one of the things that you talked about earlier is the importance of authenticity and what you just described is what you do as the head of Crucible Leadership. Those of us on the team, we have input into the vision. I’ll give you an example of yesterday. Yesterday we were talking about some aspect of the audio book. And here’s the cover of what it looks like. And there’s like eight people on the email. I chime in and say, “Hey, why don’t we put an endorsement on there?” And Warwick is like, “Well, okay, I like it looking cleaner that way.” And so I bring it up again and Warwick listened to it again.

Gary S:

Here’s what even members of the team don’t know. Later on Warwick texts me and says that he asked another member of the team about it. In other words, he didn’t just go, “Okay, I’ve already said no twice.” He went and explored it. He was willing to expand his vision a little bit if that increased buy in. And that’s the stuff that, again, my job is to point out this book, Crucible Leadership: Embrace Your Trials to Lead a Life of Significance is available starting October 19. Warwick indicated there’s some stories we can’t get into here in the podcast, but he gets into all of them in here. Can’t encourage you enough to dig in and get those. Tell us in the time we have left in this segment, Warwick, about Mr. Disney and his vision.

Warwick F:

Walt Disney, he was a great visionary. But I think it’s important, everybody knows the movies, Walt Disney World, Disneyland. In the late 20s, as he was starting, he didn’t have this big grand vision. He loved cartoons, animation. That was his passion. He didn’t know where it was all going to lead, but he was somebody that he didn’t really let failure overwhelm him. So one key early moment is he was in New York in 1928 and a distributor of his cartoons, which back then was Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, which likely nobody’s ever heard of. And there’s a reason. The distributor swindled him out of his cartoon. There was some fine print, Walt was an animator not a lawyer.

Warwick F:

And so here he is going back with his wife, Lily, on the train to California, because remember this is the late 20s and you didn’t fly there from one coast to the other back then, not easily. And rather than being depressed, he started doodling on a napkin some circles. And he drew a mouse and that became Mickey Mouse. Now, nobody’s ever heard of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit, but everybody’s heard of Mickey Mouse.

Gary S:

I’ve heard a thing or two about this mouse character.

Warwick F:

And so he was just the serial visionary. In like 1937, I think it was, he created Snow White and The Seven Dwarfs, an hour and a half animated color movie. Everybody thought called it Disney’s folly. It’ll never work. It’ll hurt your eyes. Nobody will sit through an hour and a half cartoon, are you crazy? But they did. He pretty much bet the farm on that one. Later on in like the 50s, he created Disneyland in Los Angeles. Again, people thought this is nuts, it was very expensive. Amusement parks then were dirty places that weren’t clean, a place for a family, and you’re going to have a cover charge? It’ll never work. And so he had this attitude of vision. There’s this quote that he said that I think is very on point. Walt Disney famously said this, “It’s kind of fun to do the impossible.”

Gary S:

Say that again.

Warwick F:

It’s kind of fun to do the impossible. So that was Walt Disney. He didn’t have this big plan when it was in 1928 to create Disneyland still less Disney World. But just step by step, he had this gut instinct, he trusted himself. He never gave up. He did not let that guy swindling him out of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit to define his life. That could have been his worst day in his life at the time. Did he wallow for hours, months? No, on the train back, he moved on and created Mickey Mouse. Who does that? That’s why he’s such a great visionary.

Gary S:

He did not let someone swindling him out of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit be the end of his story. And you, Warwick, did not let the failed takeover of the family media business be the end of your story. The fourth section that we’re going to talk about from the book, the fourth section of the book, is to live and lead with impact. And this is really focused on organizational leaders, how they do it, how they inspire, how they achieve and why that’s important. Resilience is key. You’ve certainly manifested that. As you’ve indicated, it wasn’t two weeks from the takeover to today. It was a couple of decades. Unpack for listeners, this live and lead with impact and why persistence resilience is such a key component of it.

Warwick F:

It is. And I want to feed some of the strands of what we’ve been talking about into this, because perseverance is key because life is hard. Life sadly is not Disneyland where every flower is perfect, everything’s clean. Everybody loves Disneyland. It just seems just so perfect. Well, life isn’t like that, unfortunately. We have moments, we have days, but life is tough. And so you’ve got to persevere as Walt Disney did. He didn’t let this distributor swindling him out of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit get him down.

Warwick F:

And so how do you have that level of perseverance? And this is where I think it all comes together. It comes from not letting your worst day define your life. It comes from having an anchor for your soul, your faith, whatever that means to you. It comes from living that faith out in character and humility and integrity. It comes from not living your parents or friends design or vision, your own vision based in your own wiring and design. And it comes with having a vision often formed out of the ashes of your crucible that you feel will make the world a better place that will help impact the world and really help folks live a life of significance. You have those things. All things being equal, you will have a lot of perseverance and like, hey, this is too important, this is too important to fail. This is about helping people. This is about freeing people’s souls.

Warwick F:

We’re just going to keep going. And you’ll also find, as we say, a group of fellow travelers. You’ll have people who’ve embraced that vision and say, “You know what? I’m with you. We’re in it.” And they’ll have different skills than you will, different talents. But you have a team that has if not more committed to your vision than you. And so combination of perseverance and a talented team that you empower, you get out of the way, you don’t step on their toes and their areas of expertise, you provide guidance, all of that fuels a perseverance to succeed. But all these strands form… If you have a vision that’s just anchored in your narcissistic needs for wealth or self adulation, that, in my view, will not have staying power for the long run. It’s hard to persevere.

Warwick F:

And certainly, who would want to follow some narcissistic, self-important, self appointed king? Nobody’s going to want to follow that. You’ll be alone in your mansion, high atop the hill. And you just don’t want to live that life. As Thoreau says, “A life of quiet desperation.” You don’t want to be that person, but perseverance is really the key as it pulls together the other strands to leading and living with impact.

Gary S:

What I loved about what you just said, Warwick, it’s the words you said, it’s the things you said, it’s the concepts you imparted to the listener, because they’re extraordinarily important. But what I love most about what you just said is the passion in your voice when you said it. You described yourself often and you did it in this show, I believe early on. You’re a reflective advisor. You’re soft spoken. You’re even keeled when you speak. I don’t know that I’ve ever heard you speak with as much passion as what you just did in summarizing what is in that book. I’m not making this up. I’ve got tingles as I hear that, because that is you rooting around in your life of significance.

Gary S:

You just talked about the sadness of living a life of quiet desperation. What I just heard there is a man who’s living a life of loud significance. And that is extraordinarily rewarding for me as your friend. And I hope, I pray extraordinarily helpful for listeners who hear it. We have talked in each one of these sections about a story. And this was a funny one, because as we were talking about this beforehand, I’m like, you’re going to have a hard time picking what story you’re going to talk about, because some of your favorite people are in here. In the book, you talk about Nelson and Wellington British military leaders. You talk about Lincoln. You talk about that stuff. David, you talk about David from the Bible, but the one that you wanted to camp on here, also a big hero of yours. And I think that’s a great place to wrap this discussion. The captain has put on the fasten seatbelt signs and it’s getting time to land the plane. And we’re about to do that. But talk about the persistence, the resilience and the impact it made of Winston Churchill.

Warwick F:

Yeah. Everybody’s heard of Winston Churchill, but he’s a fascinating guy. He was the grandson of the Duke of Marlborough, one of the famous aristocratic families. And he did not have an easy life. His father didn’t believe in him at all. He just basically thought of his son as a waste of space. And his father died young for a variety of reasons. Back in those days, you didn’t see a whole lot of your parents if you were the son of an aristocracy. So I’m not sensing, there was a whole lot of affirmation, but yet he had this persistence, this sense that he could become somebody and live a meaningful life. And so in the 20s he was called the star of the government by then, Prime Minister Stanley Baldwin.

Warwick F:

His wilderness years began from about 1929. And then a couple of years on, he lost a lot of money in the stock market crash. He was hit by a car in New York City in 1931 looking the wrong way, which I guess happens if you’re English in New York living in America. So he made a number of political mistakes, which he tended to. He let his mouth runaway with him. And so come the 1930s, Nazi Germany was on the rise. And pacifism, whether it was, in Britain and America was at its height. But Churchill could see that you can’t trust Adolf Hitler, you can’t trust Nazi Germany. And they all said, oh, poor old Winston warmongerer, and they wouldn’t listen. It was immensely frustrating. He could have said, “Look, the heck with these guys, if they’re so stupid to ignore Nazi Germany, let it be on their heads,” but he didn’t give up. He kept giving speech after speech, after speech.

Warwick F:

Well, finally as Hitler wore on and took over Czechoslovakia in 1938 and then Austria, people began to say, “You know what? Maybe Winston’s right, maybe we can’t trust this guy, Hitler and Nazi Germany. Maybe they won’t just leave us alone.” And finally, as we know, war broke out in 1939. And eventually by then he was getting older, Churchill was voted in as prime minister in May 1940. So after many years in the wilderness, finally, he came. And never once was he vindictive. He treated the people that came before him, prime ministers, Chamberlain and Baldwin, with respect. There was not a bitter bone in his body.

Warwick F:

But that sense of perseverance was so much a part of him. If ever a country needed perseverance it’s Britain in 1940, with Battle of Britain, America wasn’t in the war. All of Europe was conquered by Nazi Germany. And he gave this famous speech that inspired a nation to persevere, to hang in there. And he uses these immortal words in 1940. He gave this speech and it says this, “We shall not flag or fail. We shall fight in France. We shall fight on the seas and oceans. We shall fight with growing confidence and growing strength in the air. We shall defend our island, whatever the cost may be. We shall fight on the beaches. We shall fight on the landing grounds. We shall fight in the field and in the streets and we shall fight in the hills. We shall never surrender.”

Warwick F:

So that’s pure Churchill, that’s pure perseverance. And he helped a nation persevere under the darkest of times. So he had a life grounded in perseverance, and he inspired a nation to have perseverance with his rhetoric and his example, it’s true inspiration of somebody that never gave up and never just gave in when life was looking grim, personally, and for his country.

Gary S:

With that story, the Spitfire has landed. The Spitfire has landed. And what I love about what you just said at the end is that it’s a great bridge to our next episode is everything that you just described about Winston Churchill, never giving up, not allowing his crucibles that he went through to be the end of his story. It’s not only what the podcast is about that we do every week, but it’s what the podcast is going to be about next week, because next week is the day. When next week’s episode goes live, it is the day that the book goes live. That book in case you missed it, the first 127 times, I mentioned it in this episode is Crucible Leadership: Embrace Your Trials to Lead a Life of Significance.

Gary S:

And what we’re going to talk about on next week’s episode, Warwick, is the other half of this story. We’ve talked today about the content of this. What we’re going to talk about next week on the day that the book releases is the publishing journey that you went through, where you had to, in a very real way, live by the words that Churchill spoke, never give up, never surrender, keep moving forward, where you had to find your vision and craft it, and you had to put it into practice and you had to… It’s the journey of you following. It’ll be an interesting show. It will be an unpacking of the journey of you following to write the book, everything that’s in the book. So I can’t wait for that conversation. That will be that will be an interesting one, for sure.

Gary S:

As we close, I’m going to change things up. I’m not going to do my usual post amble, I guess, I’d call it. I’m just going to say this. We talked in this episode about the contents of Crucible Leadership: Embrace Your Trials to Lead a Life of Significance. And what sticks out top of mind for me is, Warwick, talked about if you live in your crucible, if you don’t move beyond your crucible, if you wallow in your crucible, if you try to craft a vision that’s not uniquely you, if you’re doing things that aren’t in line with your gifts and passions and those things, and you’re aiming for something besides significance, you end up living a life of quiet desperation. What you’ve heard here today, listener, what we hope we’ve inspired you to do is to live a life of loud significance. We will see you next week to talk about how the book, Crucible Leadership, came to be.

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