Count Your Blessings, Capture Significance #95

Warwick Fairfax

December 16, 2021

This has been a banner year for Crucible Leadership, so founder Warwick Fairfax discusses his gratitude for all that’s happened in 2021 – from the release of his book, to some life-changing insights from our podcast guests, to his excitement – mixed with a little surprise – over the appreciative reception he’s experienced on the first leg of his speaking tour.  Why are we taking the time to revisit the highlights of the past 12 months? Because Warwick believes gratitude is one of the most important keys to unlocking a life of significance – and rocket fuel for tackling new opportunities to propel ourselves forward for the next 12 months.

Highlights

  • Why it’s common — and dangerous — to focus on trials during the holidays (5:12)
  • Gary’s finding blessing in his dad’s first birthday since passing away this summer (7:24)
  • The blessings Warwick has found since the passing of his parents (8:53)
  • How Warwick has begun to see crucibles as blessings (11:19)
  • Why 2021 has been a phenomenal year for Crucible Leadership (14:30)
  • Why we’re reviewing the blessings of 2021 — hint: it’s not to brag (19:08)
  • The blessings from the podcast and audio book (25:16)
  • Warwick’s growth as a public speaker (34:06)
  • How success as a speaker has given Warwick confidence in the way he describes his crucible (43:41)
  • Looking ahead to 2022 (50:25)

Transcript

Warwick F:

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

Warwick F:

One venue we’re at, all of the books went and I don’t know, stacks of people signed up to get a book. And there was a line, seemingly a mile long for students in one location at the end of the day wanting me to sign the book. It blew my mind. I mean, it was just, so the reaction by all folks, business folks, but certainly, students, it’s like it felt like this book mattered to them. My story the lessons learned about living a life of significance. As we say, often you’re not defined by your worst day, how you can get over that worst day and just live a life of significance a life on purpose dedicated to serving others. I mean, it was such a blessing to see that my book was helping people.

Gary S:

What you just heard was not a man taking a victory lap or giving and accepting high fives, puffing out his chest over his accomplishments. No. What you just heard was Warwick, the host of this podcast, talking about just one of the blessings he feels has come his way in the year, quickly drawing to a close. Hi, I’m Gary Schneeberger his co-host. And what you’ll hear this week is a conversation between me and Warwick, in which he expresses his gratitude for all that’s happened for Crucible Leadership in 2021.

Gary S:

From the release of his book, to some life changing insights from our podcast guests to the excitement, mixed with a little bit of surprise, over the appreciative reception he’s experienced on the first leg of his speaking tour. Why are we taking the time to revisit the highlights of the past 12 months? Because Warwick believes that gratitude is one of the most important keys to unlocking a life of significance and rocket fuel for tackling new opportunities to propel ourselves forward for the next 12 months.

Warwick F:

This time of year, with the holidays coming up, we’ve got Thanksgiving, Hanukkah, Christmas, New Year. Many folks are going to be with families in the US and just different parts of the world. And as you’re with families, it’s a time to pause and reflect. And hopefully, I think, in an ideal sense, it’s a time to be grateful, to be thankful and really, just to count your blessings, so to speak. So, as I look back on this last year, certainly personally, but definitely professionally with Crucible Leadership, I truly feel blessed.

Warwick F:

So often, life is so busy. I think human nature is such we tend to focus more on what irritates us or our deficiencies or challenging relationships, all of which is totally normal. And when a good thing happens, we go, “Oh, that’s nice,” and we just promptly forget it and move on. So, it takes more work to think of our blessings than our trials. Trials bring pain. Pain forces us to remember and not forget or left to its own devices. So, I think it’s a good exercise to focus on how we’re blessed in this last year and don’t just skip over it. So, that’s kind of what we’re going to do here. It’s going to be some broader lessons learned for I think all of us, but part of the springboard is just the sense of feeling blessed in Crucible Leadership and what’s been happening. So, that’s kind of the thought, it’s just taking stock of our blessings and being grateful.

Gary S:

If I had to summarize the subjects that we’re going to discuss, I’ll channel my mother’s Southern heritage and I’ll say that it’s all about, this episode is all about blessings and lessons, right? We’re going to talk about blessings and we’re going to talk about the lessons that those blessings have imparted to us as we look to move beyond our crucible. And we hope listener, that they’ll also be encouraging and equipping to you.

Gary S:

An interesting point, Warwick that you just made there about particularly around the holidays. Thanksgiving has passed by the time listeners hear this. The other holidays, Christmas and New Year’s, are coming up. But you mentioned that we can easily focus on the opposite of blessings – what we don’t have, what’s gone wrong, worry those kinds of things. Why do you think that’s both so common and why do you think that’s dangerous as we go into this time of year?

Warwick F:

Yeah, it’s a good question. I think as you focus on your trials, challenging relationships, I mean, for some gathering with family in the holidays, is a blessed event. For others, they look forward to it with dread or maybe they’ve lost a loved one. And so, gathering together with the Christmas dinner table or Thanksgiving, it can be a time to remember what you don’t have. That loved one is no longer there – a husband, a wife, partner, parents, grandparents. It’s all understandable, but grieving is a part of certainly the process, but if you just focus on trials, you tend to get stuck.

Warwick F:

And if you want to live a life of significance, a life on purpose dedicated to serving others, which is what we’re all about here at Crucible Leadership, at a certain point, you don’t ignore the grief, you honor those who are no longer with us. But you also have to, not move on, but in a sense, maybe honor their memory by living life to the fullest. And part of living life to the fullest is just being grateful, being thankful. Because counting your blessings to use that oft used aphorism, it does give you sort of rocket fuel. It’s like turbo power to help you really contribute to the world, so it’s not just doing it for the sake of it. It’s a really important exercise that’s both encouraging to you and it can be encouraging to others.

Warwick F:

So, it’s a very important thing to do because if you just wallow in your pain, however understandable it is, not only are you not helping yourself, you will typically not help others. And in the extreme when you wallow in your pain, not only is it not helpful to you, you might end up hurting other people, especially those you love, which is never what you want to do. Nobody wants to hurt people they care about. So, grief is a real part of loss and I honor that, but you’ve got to also count your blessings. You’ve got to focus on gratitude and what you’re grateful for. It’s just really important to do that.

Gary S:

And as we talk about at Crucible Leadership and Beyond the Crucible, this idea of did a crucible happen to you or for you, I think what you’re saying there is, can you find things that are positive that happened for you. For instance, I mean, I’ll just use my example. As we’re recording this episode, my father’s birthday would have been tomorrow. He passed away this summer, at age 93. It is going to be a difficult day. I can choose to feel bad about that, be sad about that, and I will be. I can live there, camp there, or I can focus on the things not that my father left me, but what my father left me.

Gary S:

I can find those learnings there and use those to, as you have said, calm my spirit, center my soul, give me energy and passion for today. Find those silver linings in the clouds, which we urge people to do through crucibles all the time. That applies as well to this holiday season and to not being knocked down by those emotional things that might tug at us, but pushing through them, learning lessons from them and indeed finding blessing in them.

Warwick F:

Yeah, I mean, it’s such a good point. I mean, as we’re talking here, Gary, both of us have lost our parents. I had lost my mother a few years ago, 2017. My dad a very long time ago, in early 1987. He was in his 80s when he died. He was a lot older when he had me, so it’s easy to focus on a loss and we’ll be spending Christmas here in Maryland where we live now, not in Australia and we no longer have the house we grew up in. There’s a lot of things we’ll never experience, so I could focus on all of that.

Warwick F:

Or I could focus on just wonderful memories of having Christmas Day in Australia in Sydney, which is because Australia is on the other side of the world, it’s simply the hottest day of the year, which is obviously different than a lot of North America. And just think of those happy memories. We all have them and just to give you one example one happy memory that I have is Christmas Eve, we would gather in one of the rooms that what was a large house in Sydney. And there was a grand piano there and we would sing in Christmas carols. Well, a lot of people do that, but my younger brother and sister, my parents, we would always have this ritual in which my dad would begin to play the piano with two hands.

Warwick F:

Now at that point growing up, he’s in his 60s and 70s, he really hadn’t played the piano in I don’t know, 50 odd years. He probably was never really that good, so we’d always start off with two hands and he’d always start off with, his favorite Christmas carol was Hark the Herald Angels. So, we’d be like, “Hark,” wait, wait a second, hang on, hang on. “The,” okay, just a minute. “Herald.” And we’d be like, “Dad, okay, just go to one hand.” Eventually, he’d go to one hand, and then we get through it. Every single year, it would always be the same. Start off with two hands, couldn’t do it.

Warwick F:

And so, that’s a happy memory of gathering around the piano singing Christmas carols. And it was it’s a happy memory, because it was all so comical with the two hands, go to one hand. So, we all have those memories in our past. So, focus on those happy memories rather than the sense of loss. And I’m sure, obviously, you would have, we all have those memories. I’m sure you do, too. So, focus on those happy memories around this time and why we’re blessed rather than the sense of loss.

Gary S:

Absolutely. Moving now into specifically Crucible Leadership territory. Over the last several months, listeners may have picked it up if they’ve really listened closely to some of the episodes prior to this one. But you’ve had a kind of a significant shift in your thinking about crucibles vis-à-vis blessings, just over the last several months. Talk about that a little bit as we then sort of transition into what are some of the blessings that we’ve enjoyed in 2021.

Warwick F:

Yeah, and we’ll talk more about it as we progress, but one of the interesting things is, we’ve had maybe like 90 plus episodes of our podcast Beyond the Crucible, 70 plus guests. And one of the things I really enjoy is we learn so much from our guests. We had a Resilience series recently. And, there was a woman, Stacey Copas, Australian woman who was injured in a diving accident, an above ground pool in the suburbs of Sydney. She was about 12, I think, at that time, somewhere around there. And like a lot of kids, they just sort of ignore their parents’ advice, which “Don’t dive into the pool. It’s not that deep.” And “Yeah, sure, whatever, mom, dad.” She did and she was diagnosed as a quadriplegic.

Warwick F:

That was devastating, as you would expect. She had some substance abuse issues in her teens, but now, she is just this vibrant, happy woman that coaches, that speaks and helps. Actually, coach and speak on resilience and she views what she went through as a gift, almost as a blessing. I mean, nobody would want to go through that kind of crucible or anything. But like what we’ve picked up from her, and indeed many of our guests, is they obviously don’t like what they went through. Whether it was their fault or not their fault, but they’re using their pain for a purpose. They’re seeing it in terms of a blessing.

Warwick F:

So, I don’t know that I ever would have looked back and said what I went through was a blessing before or a gift. I would say a lot, some good things came out of it. I learned a lot. I’m doing what I love. But I think it’s been a bit of an evolution in terms of well, maybe, it was a blessing, maybe it was a gift. So, that’s certainly been an evolution of my thinking and just the great value of learning from other people. Every human being, I think, has something to teach us, if we will let them. And certainly, I have learned from all our guests and most recently, I certainly learned from Stacey Copas.

Gary S:

And since I am your PR guy as well as the co-host of this show, I think that now gives me the right or the opportunity to put out a press release that says, “He lost $2.25 billion and says it’s a gift.” Okay, maybe we’ll talk more about that. Maybe we’ll have to talk more about that, but that would be a headline.

Warwick F:

Indeed.

Gary S:

That would be a headline on a press release that would catch the media’s attention, for sure.

Warwick F:

Indeed.

Gary S:

Let’s shift a little bit now into a more traditional discussion of what blessing is and sort of the meat and potatoes of what this show is about. And that is 2021 was a pretty phenomenal year for Crucible Leadership, wasn’t it?

Warwick F:

Yeah. It’s interesting. Part of the genesis of the idea for this episode is recently, we were discussing with our team, “So what happened in 2021?” Because basically, in order to start thinking of plans for 2022, standard strategic planning kind of process is what worked well? What could have worked better? What are some of the strengths? What are some of the areas we want to improve? Standard stuff that most businesses go through periodically. And that is a springboard for, “Okay, so what we want to do utilizing our strengths, for instance, for next year? Because there’s a lot of things we could do, but what do we want to focus on.

Warwick F:

So as we were having this discussion and going down the list of the things that happened in 2021, it’s easy to forget them in a sense of when you’re in the trenches focusing on, “Okay, what do we need to do today? How do we fix this or that? What are we going to do tomorrow?” It’s easy to get lost in the weeds in the trenches and day-to-day hustle and bustle of activities.

Warwick F:

But as we were going through the list of things that happened, it’s like, “Oh, my gosh. I do indeed feel blessed.” I do indeed feel blessings have been showered on me from my perspective, being a person of faith to the Lord. I have a lot to be grateful for, a lot to be thankful for. And so, I did in a sense as I was in the middle of that meeting, just a few days ago, I just felt blessed.

Warwick F:

And obviously, the biggest one is the book, Crucible Leadership: Embrace Your Trials to Lead a Life of Significance. That was in some sense, you could say 30 plus years in the making from the day of the takeover, 1987. It was probably at least 12 years in the making. As listeners would know, I’ve often told the story. In 2008, my pastor wanted, in sort of church we go to in Annapolis, Maryland, he was giving a sermon on the life of David, being a righteous man falsely persecuted by King Saul. I’m not David, but I gave a 10-, 12-minute talk.

Warwick F:

Somehow people felt like my story and the lessons learned was very helpful. Hence, at that point, I felt led to write a lessons learned book. It took years to write and then years to get it published. You’ve got to build a brand, create a following. And that culminated in a book deal with Mount Tabor Media and Morgan James. And as of October 19, this fall, it was published. Well, that’s at least 12 plus years in the making, if not more, depending on how you look at it.

Warwick F:

And I feel blessed to actually have a book. It looks good. It went through a lot of, some editing, which you were a part of, and I feel good about it. I feel like this is a book I’m actually proud of. I think it’s something that can really help people, but when you have that kind of book and it’s taken so long to get there, you cannot help but be blessed. Well, you should feel blessed and you should be grateful. From my perspective, I’m grateful to the Lord for making it possible. So that’s, that was probably the biggest blessing this year and that’s no small thing to have a book published. So yeah, I feel blessed.

Gary S:

Let me pause here before we move on, to tie a ribbon on that mention of the book, and also set the stage for what’s coming next. If you’ve listened to this show, once or twice before, listener, you know that Warwick is not an ego-driven person. Warwick is not talking about the book here to say, “Look at me, I got a book published.” The reason to sort of take this tour of blessings, as we’ve talked about, it isn’t to spike the football, to use a term you’ve used offline with me, Warwick. It’s to create energy and ideas for growing and cementing the life of significance moving forward.

Gary S:

Everything that you’re going to talk about here as a blessing, a key moment in 2021 for Crucible Leadership in that meeting that we had as a team sparked ideas for things we can do to take it further in 2022. So, let’s be clear. This is not a “Hey, look at me, I had a great year in 2021.” It’s, “Here’s the things that happened in 2021 that give us energy and ideas and passion and purpose for moving on to give you, listener, more content, more hope in 2022.” That’s fair, isn’t it?

Warwick F:

Absolutely. I mean, there’s a phrase, I’m sure many of us have heard, “Having an attitude of gratitude.” There’s a fair amount of books that are printed on gratitude, so it’s certainly popular in our culture, but there’s a reason for it is that as you’re thankful and grateful, it fuels you with energy to take the next positive step. So this book, which we’ll take too long to get into, but there were many positive steps.

Warwick F:

I mean, I had some great conversations with potential publishers in Australia a number of years ago. That didn’t quite work out just because of the market needs in Australia and what they were looking for and what I was looking for. And there’s a couple of editors in Australia that helped me. Then here, we had some recently more editing. We had a fantastic person help us with the cover design, interior design, great team at Morgan James. We walked together in those final editing stages.

Warwick F:

The point is behind this major blessing of getting Crucible Leadership published, there were many blessings along the way. There were positive steps that I was grateful for, that fuelled me with energy to take the next step. Okay, we’ve got, more of a structural edit. Fantastic. Let’s do more of a proofreading edit. Let’s make sure we get a great cover designer. Terrific. Let’s make sure we get a great designer for interior layouts. All of these things, this major blessing was a compilation of mini blessings. And so having a positive, yeah, obviously, a vision that you’re off the charts passionate about, but by being grateful each step of the way, it helps make this bigger blessing possible.

Warwick F:

So, your attitude as you pursue it is huge. If it’s like, “Oh, my gosh. This is so much work.” Year after year goes by. I couldn’t quite seem to make it work in Australia. “Oh, it will never happen and oh, my gosh, it takes so long. And gosh, to go through each chapter.” And it was 100,000 words initially and Morgan James very rightly said, “We want it more like 80,000.” And be like, “Oh, my gosh, here we go again. What’s this edit number, 800?” It wasn’t edit number 800. It felt like it. So, I could have had…

Gary S:

I think it was 807.

Warwick F:

Yeah. There you go.

Gary S:

If I remember correctly.

Warwick F:

So, rather than an attitude of gratitude, I could have had an attitude of whining or as we say in Australia, which is worse, an attitude of “whinging,” which is like whining squared. I could have complained all the way. What would complaining and whining and whinging or being irritated have done? It would have guaranteed the book never got published. I would have said, “It’s all too much. Let’s give up.” But by being grateful and positive, good things happened.

Warwick F:

So, that’s some really important lessons in getting this book published. Not just about the book, it’s your attitude can fuel the direction of your life. It can fuel your success frankly. Your attitude can also doom you to misery and failure. You want to guarantee that you will fail, irrespective of what other people do, be grouchy, grumpy, whiny, whingey, and complain every second of the day, and I guarantee you that success won’t happen. It’s guaranteed if you follow that path, you won’t succeed at anything.

Gary S:

And in Crucible Leadership terms, not only will success not happen, but the other S-word, significance won’t happen and that’s truly a trauma. That’s a crucible oven by itself if you’re living a life of quiet insignificance, to paraphrase what you quote Thoreau was saying.

Warwick F:

Yeah, yeah, absolutely. I mean, as you say, you don’t want to, in the words of Henry David Thoreau, lead lives of quiet desperation. You go to work every day and it’s just, everything is miserable. Your whole life you think is just awful. You just, you hate the thought of coming home. You hate the thought of going to work. You might even hate the thought of being alive. At least as far as you can change that with your attitude, you want to, I realize there are some circumstances that are very challenging, but you don’t need to make it worse with your attitude that can make a difficult situation far worse. So, attitude is everything and that’s really why we’re talking about it. So, yeah, the book was huge. There’s no question.

Gary S:

But the book was not the only blessing of 2021. What else? Again, a blessing that helped fuel your passion that allowed you to work in your giftings and your vision. What else happened in 2021 that you want to single out as a blessing?

Warwick F:

Yeah, as you’re talking, Gary, I think and as we’re going through each of these items, it’s important to note that the reason, one of the reasons they’re a blessing is that I’m not a take no prisoners kind of corporate executive, as I often say. Maybe it was arguably needed in my Fairfax Media days. I’m more of a reflective advisor, a writer, a thinker, now, speaker. I love learning and listening, so everything that we do is in line with my design, from my perspective, divine design.

Warwick F:

We don’t do things that are off-brand or something that I don’t have remote kind of gifting for, because that would make no sense. So, one of the things that really, we’ve done this year, we started a podcast. I think, a couple of years ago, this fall and Beyond the Crucible, which is what you’re listening to now and we took some significant steps forward this year. For the first time, we had a whole series. We had a six week series called Resilience.

Warwick F:

And really, one of the things that’s definitely helped us with is the folks at Content Capital, who helped produce our podcast. That Resilience series was huge to have a series based on a certain theme that have helped with our marketing efforts to take our downloads and be able to have our message reach a broader audience.

Warwick F:

Same folks at Content Capital also have an arm that does audiobooks. And so I was thinking, not everybody does it, but I was thinking, I’d love to have an audio book and they have a division that does that. And so I spent a week in Austin, Texas, in August, in sort of a sound booth. And they had a Grammy Award winning sound engineer behind the booth, so to speak, which is, pretty impressive to have that level of quality. And…

Gary S:

Absolutely.

Warwick F:

… so, I kind of narrated the whole book. It was a long week, but took plenty of breaks. And so I actually, it sounds weird, I actually almost enjoy listening to the audiobook because I’m hearing my own understated passion. It takes a lot for me to say that, but they did such a great job.

Gary S:

Absolutely.

Warwick F:

So, they helped take our podcast and the audio book to another level. And just the quality of guests we’ve had on the podcast. I mentioned Stacey Copas. We’ve had a bunch of others that I’ve really learnt so much from. So, I just love learning about from people that I knew nothing about. Another example is we had Jason Hardrath on. Actually, I think it’s a very recent episode. Maybe the episode-

Gary S:

Yeah, just a couple of weeks ago.

Warwick F:

Yeah, shortly before this. And here’s somebody that had an accident in 2015, stopped him doing triathlons and running. But he shifted to mountain climbing, which he could still do just because the way his knee was injured, he could kind of go up easier than he could run on horizontal ground. And he has an ADHD challenge. But I learned so much from him because of his challenge, he has a gift, which is he has no fear.

Warwick F:

He will just try crazy things like, “Gee, I can barely swim three laps of a pool. I’m going to sign up for a triathlon, which involves what, like 2.4-mile swim” or something like that. And nobody would tend to do that. It’s like, “Well, okay, if I can hit a mile swim maybe I’ll sign up for a triathlon in six months.” But because of his challenge, he holds no fear. It’s like, “Gosh, I can learn from Jason. The sense of set a goal but don’t have fear.” Plan, but just go for it.

Warwick F:

Too many people fail not because they’re not going for things because they’re not willing to try. So, that had a huge impact on me as I reflect on that gift that Jason gave to me. His lack of fear. He’s willing just to go for it, because I’m more plan, plan, plan, think, think, think, then stick my toe in the water, then go back and plan think some more. Now, I’m exaggerating. I’m not as bad as I used to be.

Gary S:

Not much. Not much.

Warwick F:

I’m cautious by nature, fearful, even. But, so what we’ve achieved with my natural, fearful, cautious design 2021 is nothing short of a miracle. Because you would look at it to say, “How could a fearful person accomplish everything that we’ve done and we have even got to speeches. Speaking of fear. I mean, oh, my gosh, I used to say-

Gary S:

Before we go there, let me rewind a little bit and talk a couple of things about what you just mentioned. First, the Resilience podcast series, Harnessing Resilience. I encourage you, listener, if you haven’t picked that up, go back into our archive and grab the Harnessing Resilience six-part series. Strong guests, who have harnessed resilience in a variety of different ways, both anecdotally, experientially and then also we have some research about what leads to resilience.

Gary S:

But one of the things from that show that really was spot-lit for us here at Beyond the Crucible was that resilience is nearly impossible, if not truly impossible, to move beyond your crucible, as the show is called, if you do not have resilience. And Stacey Copas is sort of becoming the MVP of this conversation, because we’ve mentioned her now three or four times. But Stacey says something, something in that, in her episode of that series, where she talks about resilience as something that happens where you’re crucible is kind of like being on a trampoline. And the lower down your crucible takes you, the higher up resilience can launch you. And that was a real learning point for me.

Gary S:

So as you talk about learning points and little bits of insight and inspiration that we pick up through the show, I hope listeners feel the same thing. I hope you have your own, listener, your own tidbits that you’ve picked up to help you walk out your path beyond your crucible. But that thing from Stacey about a crucible experience is, think of it as a trampoline. The lower down you go, the higher up you can be launched was a true difference maker for me in terms of how I orient myself toward crucibles. And then Warwick, your mention of the audio book.

Warwick F:

Yeah…

Gary S:

Oh, yeah, please.

Warwick F:

… just before we leave podcasts and Stacey Copas, the Resilience series, I think, we can tie this back to what we’re talking about. Because every guest in Resilience series, indeed, every guest I think we’ve ever had, one of the keys is being a positive attitude that may have gone through a season like Stacey Copas did of substance abuse, of being just angry and bitter. And because it was her fault from her perspective, she was really tough on herself. “Why did I dive in that pool? Why didn’t I listen to my parents at age 12?”

Warwick F:

But you’re young. Young people do silly things. It’s part of growing up. Obviously, there were pretty bad consequences here, but every guest we’ve had from Jason Hardrath to Stacey Copas, everybody we had on the Resilience series, they’ve had this positive attitude. They’ve not let grief or anger about what happened to them or the mistakes they’ve made overwhelm them. Yes, they’ve had a season to have to deal with that. And you go through pain, there will always be scars, but they had a positive attitude.

Warwick F:

They count their blessings. They’re grateful. They find a way to see and find gratitude in the most unlikely places. And that positive attitude is probably the key to their bouncing back, it’s key to their resilience and it’s key to their ability to lead a life of significance. So, if you go underneath the hood of everyone of every guest we had in the Resilience series, their mindset, their positive mindset was absolutely key to fueling and strengthening their resilience muscle. It’s just staggering to me.

Gary S:

And hopefully, listener, as I said, what Warwick just described is what you have experienced listening to those guests along with us. We’ve talked about some of the takeaways that we’ve pulled from the shows from the guests that we’ve talked to, but we know that, we hope, we pray that you have had those same experiences. One of the things that you don’t know is after every episode that we record, Warwick and I talk on the phone, after we turn off play, hit stop and we talk about, “What did you think about that? What stood out for you?”

Gary S:

And it’s always amazing, because there is always a learning. Never once in more than 90 shows have we had a phone call after we recorded an episode and gone, “Okay. Well, it was all right. See you tomorrow.” We unpack the learnings that we have had and we’ve studied the guests beforehand. So those conversations, again, we hope continue to use the word of the day for this episode. We hope those conversations continue to bless you.

Warwick F:

Amen.

Gary S:

I want to say this before we get into the next subject because you teased it a little bit, your speeches. And I want to set the tone or the stage for you as you talk about the speeches that you’ve been giving across the country about your book. And I want to say this to the listener. You’ve now, if you’ve been with us for any period of time, a few episodes, you’ve come to a place where you kind of have an impression of Warwick.

Gary S:

Warwick is a contemplative man. He is a reflective advisor type. He likes to ask questions. He listens before he asks questions. Now, because Warwick is the host of a podcast, which is a form of entertainment, it’s also a little form of journalism, you might wonder like you do with some people in entertainment realm, “Is that really who Warwick Fairfax is?” I’m here to tell you what you see is what you get with Warwick. So, when he says to you what he’s going to tell you about speaking, have that mindset there.

Gary S:

Warwick when he tells you as he’s about to tell you, “I didn’t start out as the greatest speaker and it was a little nerve wracking for me,” he is telling you the absolute, unvarnished, transparent, vulnerable truth. This is something that he had to work at and when he calls it now a blessing, when he now talks about how he feels as a speaker versus how he felt as a speaker when he started, that is a true movement along the line of a life of significance. So, talk about the blessing of the speaking tour that you’ve been on and will continue on after the first of the year.

Warwick F:

So, it’s interesting, almost a lifelong journey. I remember, at an early age, teenage growing up in Australia, in my mind’s eye, I saw myself taking a leading role in Fairfax Media. Giving speeches to employees, encouraging them, making them feel honored, treasured, respected. I just saw myself, just helping them feel like they matter. It was just this daydream as you do when you’re a teenager. And so, obviously, whether that whole thing was my vision or ancestors vision is another question.

Warwick F:

But I think over the years, if you ask me about speaking, I’d say, I’m like the world’s worst speaker. It is not my gifting. I’m not an outgoing, extroverted person. I’m probably more introverted, shy. I don’t like being in the limelight. I can’t run around with no notes and just speak off the cuff in some compelling a way. I mean, it’s just not me. So, I’m thinking me speak? I mean, that’s going to be a heavy lift. It’s just not a natural thing for me to be on a stage in front of a whole stack of people.

Gary S:

Now, let’s stop here for a second because I knew the pivot was coming. I want to unpack something. I’m going to pull the sweater string now that you’d like to pull on guests.

Warwick F:

Please, you go ahead.

Gary S:

Because that’s the first time you’ve ever told that story about how you thought about as the proprietor, the head of Fairfax Media speaking and inspiring the troops as it were. And I’ve never heard you tell that story. And you tell that story as if you really wanted that to be true and that there might have been a tinge of disappointment that it wasn’t. That’s the first time I’ve heard you articulate something about the failure of the takeover that was sort of a ding to your desire of what you wanted to do. It may not have been your vision, but that aspects of speaking and inspiring people you wanted to do. Did it hurt? Did you think about that through the years that that was something you lost when you lost it?

Warwick F:

Well, it was a lost opportunity, because I was so scared and I just felt like completely out of my element. We had so much debt, as most listeners would know, after the $2.25 million takeover. I spent most of my time in refinancing. I was in my late 20s. I just, I was shy, so typically what you do is you manage by walking around.

Warwick F:

I never walked the floors of John Fairfax Limited. Talking to journalists, staff members, “How you doing?” I mean, I have the capacity to ask questions and be empathetic, but at that time, I was too scared, deer in the headlights, to do that. So yes, lost opportunity to make people feel encouraged and cared. And I was just so out of my element that it was just almost impossible for me at that time.

Gary S:

So, it must make it much sweeter now that you are on the road and you are speaking to audiences about your book and a book that you wrote. It’s important to note, I don’t think we mentioned it here yet, in a lessons-learned format. It’s not just the Warwick Fairfax story. It’s in lessons learned how you overcome a crucible and lead a life of significance. That’s got to be even more richly rewarding for you now, having not had that opportunity that you thought about before. So, talk about what’s been happening on the road. I know the stories, but the listeners don’t know them yet.

Warwick F:

So, we had a number of opportunities this fall. A couple of different universities – one faith-based, one more general, some business groups. And what’s been amazing is the reception from both business people and students. I mean, it’s amazing to me that we would ship books and sometimes, it’d be like, “Well, don’t be disappointed if all of them don’t go because students are busy.” All of them went.

Warwick F:

And we have a moment in the general speech in which we hand out cards and pens, and we ask the audience, “So, talk about a vision that you’re off the charts passionate about. Talk about what your life significance is going to be. What one next step will you do this week?” Well, the students heads were down and it felt like two or three minutes were going by. It’s like they were writing like an epistle, like a tome. I mean, what’s going on here? I was-

Gary S:

Yeah. You had to cut them off…

Warwick F:

No.

Gary S:

… to continue.

Warwick F:

And then we had a time where you kind of leave the question part of it. And the questions they asked, I mean, they got what I was going through. They would say, they might even say, “Do you view now your life is a blessing that, maybe it worked out for the best?” One person even said or asked, “When you go back to Australia is it painful?” Well, yes, it is. Not as painful as it used to be. You’ve got to be listening very closely to get the fact that it’s painful. That was an incredibly good question.

Warwick F:

And then at the end, one venue we were at, all of the books went, and I don’t know, stacks of people signed up to get a book. And there was a line, seemingly a mile long, the students in one location at the end of the day wanting me to sign the book. It blew my mind. I mean, it was, just so the reaction by all folks, business folks, but certainly students, it’s like, it felt like this book mattered to them.

Warwick F:

My story, the lessons learned, about leading a life significance. As we say often, you’re not defined by your worst day, how you can get over that worst day and just live a life of significance, a life on purpose dedicated to serving others. I mean, it was such a blessing to see that my book was helping people. And the questions they were asking. They were engaged. It felt like students that when you would ask them, what one next up.

Warwick F:

So many of them said, “I’m going to talk to my mom or dad this week. I’m going to tell them what I’m thinking of.” I mean, that when a student says that, they don’t talk to mom and dad about everything. They talk to mom or dad when it really matters, about something you really care about. So, it was such a blessing. So, and I can honestly say, I’m not the world’s worst speaker. I think I can say I’m competent, maybe even good. And for me to admit that I’m good at speaking, it’s a miracle. It makes no sense, given that this is not my area of strength.

Warwick F:

It just goes to show you that anything is possible. If you’re passionate enough about what you’re doing and you care enough about helping people, anything is possible. I mean, it’s a miracle that I can get to competent, if not good at speaking. It makes no sense. It’s a miracle. I’m absolutely grateful and I absolutely feel blessed. It just, it blows my mind.

Gary S:

Two points, actually, three. First point, not necessarily a miracle. You worked hard at it. So, second point, you mentioned earlier in this episode, Jason Hardrath and your appreciation for Jason through his crucible in his athletic career, that he seemed to have no fear. That he just was like, “Okay, I’m just going to, I’ll figure it out.” And he just pushed ahead and he was not immobilized by fear.

Gary S:

I’ve watched you as you’ve embarked on this journey to craft a speech, prepare to deliver a speech, deliver it, you’ve done the same thing. You’ve not been afraid. You’ve not been slowed or stopped by fear as you’ve moved forward to do that. And there’s a pivotal moment that I want to bring the listener’s attention. You were practicing the speech, it was me and Keri Childers, who you mentioned earlier, your speaking agent and a friend of ours. And you were performing the speech. You were giving the speech to me and Keri as your as your stand in audience.

Gary S:

And every other time as you’re telling the story of the takeover bid, every other time you’d ever talked about it on this show, in other people’s podcasts, in interviews, in conversation, behind the scenes, you always refer to yourself as a failed media mogul. In context of, most often in the context of when you were asked to give a speech at church about the life of David, you told your story in the context of a sermon series on the life of David. And you said it moved people and your line was, “I don’t know how it moved people. There weren’t a lot of other failed media moguls in the audience.”

Gary S:

As you were delivering the speech to me and Keri, out of your mouth, and I listened for it more than once to make sure it wasn’t just a change that happened because you changed your tune once. You said, you stopped saying failed media mogul and you said, “I don’t know how it moved so many people because I looked out in the congregation and there weren’t any other former media moguls.” And I listened and you said it once and twice and three times and you’ve continued to do that.

Gary S:

And to me, that was an enormous sign that not only were you not afraid, but you had grown in confidence in delivering that speech, and more than just delivering the speech, in talking about that time in your life and how you’ve moved on beyond it, how you’re living a life of significance. You were walking around in that, not feeling cocky, feeling confident and comfortable in your skin. And that’s why you stopped, in my view, that’s why you stopped defining yourself as a failed media mogul.

Gary S:

But as a former media mogul, because the truth of the matter is, you were in charge of John Fairfax Limited for three years. It did go into bankruptcy, eventually, but you were still a media mogul for three years. That to me was a pivotal moment in how comfortable you became in sharing that story, for again, a lessons learned format. Is that a fair observation?

Warwick F:

Absolutely. Well said. I mean, it’s a sign of inner healing, of coming to terms with things and shifting my inner mindset from failed to former. That was a very, it’s a very astute point. And I think as I look back at speaking, it’s funny, Jason Hardrath and I couldn’t be more different. I mean, obviously he has-

Gary S:

That’s true.

Warwick F:

He has ADHD. He’s fearless. I’m a cautious planner. Think, think, think, step. Think, think, think again, but yet, and I sometimes overdo my parody almost of myself. Because coupled with fear and caution, I have, in fact, I once went to somebody who assessed me years ago, and they said I had like almost off the charts perseverance. I mean, extremely high and that is true. I have very high perseverance. I’m a person of, obviously, deep faith, at least I like to think and deep conviction.

Warwick F:

So, once I decide this is important. It’s not about me, it’s helping others. And I’m convinced that I need to do something; 99% of the time, it will get done, because my conviction and my perseverance overcomes my innate caution. And my innate inertia and I can be detail orientated when I want to be. So once I decide to do something, I hate things not getting done. It’s a part of my DNA. So, once I decide to do something, it and each step will tend to happen.

Warwick F:

And so there’s, we often had different parts of ourselves, almost at war within our souls or. So, that’s part of what happened is trust the process, trust the team. And because it was so important for me to get my message out and to help people, to help business folks and students, that inner conviction of “This is important. I need to find a way to do this.” And I also felt like, “Look, even if I deliver it poorly,” and this is, some of this, the reason I’m saying this is I think it can help the listener.

Warwick F:

Even if I give my speech badly or poorly, the innate story of losing $2.25 billion, of bouncing back to lead a life of significance, of focusing on helping others. That innate story is powerful. I know it’s powerful, just objectively speaking, so even a bad story delivered with authenticity, passion, honesty, and hopefully, a dose of humility even badly delivered can work. So that gave me the confidence of saying, “This is a good message. It can work. Even if I mess it up with horrendous delivery, it can still work.”

Warwick F:

So, that gave me just a sense of inner confidence and saying, “Okay, what’s the worst that can happen?” It still got a pretty decent chance of working because of the power of the story and I’m a passionate person in my own understated way. So, that’s some of the thinking that was behind the hood. It’s like, “I have perseverance.” But I felt like this is a good message. And I’ve got, I’ve had great help and so, “Let’s go for it.” So that, some of that inner psychological working within you as you seek to accomplish your dreams, this is important work.

Warwick F:

And the most important thing is if you believe in your message and you believe in what you’re doing can help people that will get you through a lot of fear and a lot of caution. You’ll be willing to do things you never thought possible. And you will do better than you ever thought possible because people want to listen to people with convictions, who have a message that they feel that can help them. So, that’s part of what got me through my innate caution is my conviction and perseverance and the belief that this message matters. I want to help people get through their worst day.

Gary S:

That sounded a lot like the Captain turning on the “Fasten seatbelt” sign indicating that it’s about time to put the plane on the ground. But I know you’re not done yet, Warwick, in talking about not just the blessings that have happened in 2021, but as you said at the outset, this all was birthed, this conversation, this idea for this conversation was birthed out of a meeting we had as a team talking about what we can pursue in 2022.

Gary S:

So, what do you want to share about what your hopes are for the next year? What you’re thinking of for the next year? What listeners can expect? Where are things headed for Crucible Leadership?

Warwick F:

Yeah, I mean, again, I can’t help but I’m reflective. But as I look back, I think if I had to sum up everything we’ve said, I feel blessed from the book, to the printed book, the audio book, the podcast, the speaking, I think there’s been another level of healing. Both in listening to folks like Stacey Copas and thinking, “Gosh, it is a blessing, it’s a gift.” And when you see young folks, in particular, it moving them, that matters to me. It would matter to anybody that’s human. There’s a level of healing in that.

Warwick F:

And then not only is there healing, as I mentioned, there’s learning. Learning from the people we’ve been on from Stacey Copas to Jason Hardrath, so that’s kind of super excited. So, I think as we look to the next year, we’re going to continue to grow the podcast and seek to grow and have more series on there, like Resilience. We’ll see what we have to come. I’ll be speaking in different groups from business groups to students, that’s our hope and plan. And maybe, there’s all sorts of different things you can do from webinars to online courses, so stack of things we’re discussing right now. Different ways to get our message out and the material and ways, both in the breadth of the coverage of the message. There’s also a depth of ability to interact with it.

Warwick F:

And I think as I sum up because I want listeners both to understand our journey and what we’re looking to do. But I also want listeners to think, “Well, what does this mean to me? How can I use this in my own life?” And I think it’s, be grateful. Take stock of your blessings. Count your blessings. Don’t forget them, whether it’s family or career, take stock of that. And as Stacey Copas says there can be a gift and a blessing in your pain. It’s hard to fathom in your worst moment, but think about it, reflect about it.

Warwick F:

Is there a way that I can use this to help people? And when you’re using your pain to help people, there can be some level of healing, not necessarily physically, but at least emotionally and spiritually, so. And the other thing about the wonders of being grateful and thankful and counting your blessings, that is like rocket fuel to help you accomplish your vision to lead a life of significance, a life on purpose dedicated to serving others.

Warwick F:

When you’re thankful, your ability to accomplish that vision in ways that are beyond your imagination is possible. So, it’s not only a good thing from an ethical or moral point of view, it’s a practical thing. It will help you accomplish your vision bigger, better, and quicker than you ever thought possible. So, count your blessings. Be grateful, be thankful. You will both feel better and you will accomplish much more than you ever thought imaginable.

Gary S:

I’m going to grab my carry on bag and head off the plane. You just landed it. That was fabulous. I’m going to end this episode, listener, by asking you a couple of questions. Because we’ve been talking about what we’ve accomplished in 2021 at Crucible Leadership and what we’re looking to do in 2022. So, a couple of questions for you and we want your feedback. What would you like to see? Is there anything you’d like to see content wise from Crucible Leadership? If so, email us at info@crucibleleadership.com. That’s info@crucibleleadership.com and tell us what kinds of content would you find helpful as you navigate your own journey beyond your crucible to a life of significance.

Gary S:

And then if you’d like to hear the ex-media mogul, not the failed media mogul or the former, not failed, media mogul if you’d like to hear him speak, if you’d like to have Warwick come to your group or to your business, to your classroom, whatever it is. If you’d like to hear Warwick speak, you can also email to info@crucibleleadership.com. And we will get back to you and discuss how we can make that happen.

Gary S:

Speaking of making things happen, we are thankful that we made it happen that you joined us today. That you made it happen that you joined us today on this episode of Beyond the Crucible. And until the next time we’re together, please remember we talked about it here, crucible experience as we know are difficult. They can knock the wind out of your sails. They can make you feel like your life is forever changed. And even if it is, though, here’s the great truth. They’re not the end of your story.

Gary S:

It was not the end of Warwick’s story. He talked. We spent this entire episode talking about things that weren’t the end of his story. Things that happen after his crucible. Things that happened because he learned the lessons of his crucible. And that’s the great news about moving beyond your crucible is if you learned the lessons of it, it’s not the end of your story. In fact, it can be the beginning of a new story for you. And it can be the best story that you live because what the story reads at the end when it says “The End” when you turn the last page, that ending is a life of significance.