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Find Deep Gladness in Gratitude: Jeff Caliguire #101

Warwick Fairfax

January 25, 2022

Jeff Caliguire thought he was a victim when the vocational path he chose as a pastor left him lonely, depressed and lacking authentic friendships. It wasn’t until he hit emotional bottom that he found his way forward, through finding the blessings in even challenging circumstances and allowing them to transform his thinking. Today, he’s a life and leadership coach offering clients a safe space to express their doubts and frustrations about life’s inevitable challenges and work on the care of their souls through finding gratitude even in difficulty.  That’s the pathway, he has discovered, to a life of significance for all of us – a life in which, as he puts it, we find our deep gladness and apply it to the world’s deep need.
To learn more about Jeff Caliguire, visit www.jeffcaliguire.com

Highlights

  • The “unspoken expectation” that he’d join the family paper business (3:18)
  • Choosing his own path (6:52)
  • The confusion that went along with his decision to go his own way (9:34)
  • How working as a pastor led to critical crucibles of depression and loneliness (12:48)
  • The dangers of victimhood (17:59)
  • The importance of having a safe space to be vulnerable (20:35)
  • His lowest moment … and how he moved beyond it to restore his soul (21:52)
  • You need to discover what your soul needs (24:07)
  • The inspiration for his Soul Care Ranch (29:45)
  • Soul fitness is as important as physical fitness (36:04)
  • The power of gratitude (39:49)
  • Jeff’s key message of hope (52:23)
  • Key episode takeaways (53:21)

Transcript

Warwick F:

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

Jeff C:

I would end up dumping on my wife things that almost like she would carry. And what I didn’t realize is I was almost creating this germ inside of her through my negativity and my complaining and my victimness. When we think of the hero, the hero is able to take what’s happened to them and overcome it. I started to play the victim and I started to believe I was cursed, that somehow all these terrible things that were happening to me, and these people who didn’t understand me were making me cursed. And it’s when we get to the place where we’re playing a victim, especially in leadership, that poor me, things have happened bad, that’s where we are needing something new. We need a breakthrough. We need new hope.

Gary S:

Hero or victim? How are you seeing yourself these days? This week’s guest, author and leadership coach Jeff Caliguire, just explained how he’s lived thinking he was the latter. Now, he and Warwick talk in depth about what it took him and what it takes all of us to live and lead as the former. Hi, I’m Gary Schneeberger, co-host of the show. Caliguire says the key to moving from victim to hero in the aftermath of a crucible is gratitude.

Gary S:

Finding the blessings in even challenging circumstances and allowing them to transform your thinking. Helping clients navigate that journey and giving them a safe space to express their doubts and frustrations along the way is the focus of the coaching he offers leaders. It’s also, he says, the pathway to a life of significance for all of us, a life in which, as he puts it, we find our deep gladness and apply it to the world’s deep need.

Warwick F:

Jeff, thanks so much for being here. And I love what you do with We Train Coaches and your concept about transformation through coaching. But I’d like to go back a bit, as we often say here on Beyond the Crucible, to get a bit of the origin story of how you grew up. I think you mentioned before, you grew up maybe in the New York area, and your dad maybe was a business owner, chief executive of a paper company.

Warwick F:

So, talk about growing up in New York and maybe family expectations. And obviously, as listeners know I have some understanding of the whole growing up in a family business deal, growing up in a large family media business in Australia. So, yeah, just talk about growing up and expectations and what’s the path you thought you were on or maybe your parents or your dad was thinking you should be on perhaps.

Jeff C:

Yeah, my dad was a guy who grew up in the Great Depression, actually sold newspapers on the streets of Boston. He truly was, I mean, if there’s ever a self-made man, I know we’re all made in a lot of ways by each other. But my dad was somebody who was single mom, alcoholic dad. And he went into business in New York, started out just selling, eventually was able to buy the company. And I don’t think I realized how amazing my dad was until later. I went through my own leadership issues and started to think, “Wow, my dad actually knew something.” You know how you think your dad doesn’t know much. But I was the youngest of three sons, and my dad really had hoped that one of his sons was going to go into the family business. And so, there was this unspoken pressure, and I worked there during the summers in New York. You get to go into the family business. And I just didn’t say this to my dad was, “Do I really want to go into the family business? Is this something for me? I mean, I didn’t come from the Great Depression. My life was a lot different.” So, it’s that unwritten, unspoken expectation that made me go, “Okay, then what if I don’t go into the family business?”

Warwick F:

Yeah, boy, I know it so well. So, when you say a paper business, just out of curiosity, what kind of paper? Was it newsprint? What kind of paper product was it?

Jeff C:

And most people will get it instantly when I say think The Office.

Gary S:

Okay. Dunder Mifflin.

Jeff C:

It was Dunder Mifflin, instead it was called Willman and it was in New York City. We sold paper to printers and publishers, big rolls. My dad was an amazing salesperson, sold to American Express, Time Warner, and just had amazing success in the Dunder Mifflin type of business.

Warwick F:

Well, and you use the phrase, this unspoken expectation. I mean, I can so identify with it. As listeners know, I grew up in a fifth generation family business. My dad inherited as his grandfather did. As listeners know, my dad was married three times, my mom twice. And because I got good grades in school, I worked hard, and the expectations rose. I was the “good son.” I wasn’t the prodigal son, if you will, that went away and was rebellious.

Warwick F:

So, he never said, “Well, have you thought about if you’re going with the family business?” The question was never asked. It was obviously expected that I would prepare myself, Oxford, Wall Street, Harvard Business School it was. And if I didn’t go into it, I felt like it would have just crushed him. So, I maybe took the not so wise path. You probably had enough wisdom, courage or something to say, “I don’t know that I want to do this.”

Warwick F:

I wasn’t even willing to go there. I don’t know, five generations. I don’t know what it was. But how did you go there, because you went where I didn’t and couldn’t. So, how did you have the courage? Did you have a conversation with your dad? I mean, how did that come up, that kind of “Dad, my brothers aren’t going to do it and I guess you’re hoping me as the youngest might, and I’m just not.” I mean, what kind of conversation was that?

Jeff C:

My dad was somebody who I think didn’t want to put pressure on me. But at the same time, I could tell when I started going in a different direction, there was a disappointment. But because I’d worked there during the summers, I got to know what it really was like and I didn’t have any false expectations of what it would be like to lead that business or be in that business. And I would have people who would take me out to lunch, some older people who are part of the business and they’d say, “Do you realize the kind of opportunity that you have?”

Jeff C:

And so, there was this little bit of guilt that I had. I have this opportunity and yet, I’m not excited about it. And a question I think a lot of people who’ve been in family businesses go through is, all right, I can do anything I want to do with my life, but I really should go into the family business. And so, there’s this tension of I can do anything but I’m meant for something else. And so, then when I felt like, “Hey, dad, what if I went to seminary? I’m considering that.”

Jeff C:

I could tell he just dropped. He wasn’t going to say, “Don’t do that,” because it was a God thing to do. But at the same time, I hated disappointing my dad. I loved my dad. So, I think there was this disappointment but at the same time, this acceptance. And I remember having lunch with him and telling him I’d like to go to seminary and him not saying much. He didn’t affirm it, but he didn’t tell me I shouldn’t do it either.

Warwick F:

Now, obviously, you’re a person of faith. Was your dad and family people of faith?

Jeff C:

Yes, definitely, definitely was. I saw faith in my dad. My dad would be the guy who was before he put his suit on, would get down on his knees at the side of his bed and pray before he started the day and when he ended the day, which marked me. I mean, I definitely saw that. But I think what happens with a lot of people is, I can almost use big word like bifurcate. You have life and you have business, and the two don’t always intersect.

Jeff C:

And my dad was a man of character and very moral, but I don’t feel like no one ever prayed with him about his business. And I didn’t feel like he had spiritual mentors in his business that understood him. So, I think there was a loneliness. It’s like I know this faith thing is supposed to be integrated in business, but it’s not. And so, I do think there was a separation.

Warwick F:

Somehow, you must have felt peace that your path was to go to seminary. Did you feel like that still small voice that, with all the pros and cons, I just know what the Lord wants me to do. Did you feel that in a sense?

Jeff C:

Man, it would sound so spiritual Warwick if I just said sure. I think I was more confused. My own time in college, I did have a spiritual awakening and I did start to recognize I can have a spiritual influence and impact on people. Especially I was in an Ivy League school, and people had a lot of questions about spiritual things, and I loved being a bridge to that. But if I said, “Boy, there was this clear calling, go to seminary, all the rest,” it was more I wanted to do something meaningful with my life.

Jeff C:

And in retrospect, my dad was doing something meaningful. I’ve come to believe that sometimes we think it was more meaningful to go to seminary than it was to be a president of a company or be in the company. I think, for me, one of the things that was like missing in a lot of my growing up was, how do you process what you’re really meant to do, what you’re gifted to do, what the opportunities are open. Frederick Buechner said, “The place where God calls is the place where your deep gladness meets the world’s deep need.”

Jeff C:

And I think a lot of us haven’t taken the time to know where is my deep gladness? Where is the need? And then, how do I bridge that? And so, I think seminary for me was a way to almost avoid making the decision. It took me longer to really find my deep gladness and to connect that to the world’s deep need. And I think there’s a lot of peace when that happens. So, I mean, I wish I could say I love studying Greek and Hebrew and theology, but I actually didn’t. There were some people who did, and they were meant for that. And so, it took me longer to really find what I was meant to do.

Warwick F:

Yeah. And we’ll get into what you do now in a bit. But I think it’s often interesting, and I ask the same questions at myself. I mean, we’re both international coach, federation certified coaches. If a coach had asked me back then as I asked you, because I became a believer when I was at Oxford. So, around about the time I was getting to the family business, you could have asked me, “So, what do you think God’s heart is? What’s your gifting?”

Warwick F:

“What are you passionate about? How do you think God could use it?” Really, in similar sense that you’re saying and I don’t know how I would answer that. I think I probably would have been too stubborn and too, in my case, the family business was founded by as strong a businessman for Christ as exists. So, that made it seem clear to me what God’s plan was. Surely, he wants another believer in the family business, right?

Warwick F:

And the faith has been waned a bit over the generations. But yeah, I mean, if you had had somebody like yourself ask a 20-something, Jeff Caliguire, so what do you love doing and what do you think the Lord wants and ask those great questions, it’s unknowable how you would have responded, right? But it would have been nice to have that opportunity. I’m sure you’ve asked yourself those questions, right?

Jeff C:

Well, and sometimes it’s your deep pain that leads to your passion. So, I mean, I had a deep pain that I didn’t have those safe people in my life. One question I like asking in coaching is, “Hey, what bugs you that doesn’t seem to bug other people?” And what bugs me is that there weren’t people…I mean, there’s a mentor of mine who said, “Hey, we figured out how to send a man to the moon but we can’t figure out how to help an 18-year-old figure out what they should major in, in college or what career they should go into.”

Jeff C:

And so, it bugs me that there weren’t people who could help me in that way. I wish I had a safe person or people who could allow me to process, and it usually doesn’t come in one question or one afternoon. But I feel like if there could be people who majored in helping people discover their major or who majored in helping people discover a career trajectory that can bring together both their experiences, with their strengths, with their gifts, and have no horse in the race. Because my dad was amazing, but he had a horse in the race. You know what I mean? He wanted me in the business. And so, just having people like that, I think, can open up so many good things. So, I guess I would just ask our listener, what bugs you that doesn’t seem to bug other people? Could there be a clue there?

Warwick F:

That’s an awesome question. So, let’s move the story along here a little bit. So, you obviously had some experiences at Cornell, fraternities and other ministries in different groups. You go to Dallas Theological Seminary and then you start a church in Boston. And if you go to Dallas Theological Seminary, it’s logical that you want to become a pastor because that’s why you go there, at least in most cases.

Warwick F:

So, you start a church and in theory, that sounds like what could be wrong with that, right? You’re a believer, you start a church. But yet, that path was not easy and I think it led to some crucible moments. Talk a bit about starting that church and why that wasn’t easy and that led to some soul searching.

Jeff C:

There are certain things that you feel like education can’t equip you for. And some of the education that I didn’t feel equipped for was the loneliness of leadership and also overcoming rejection that comes in pastoral leadership. I think people look to a pastor to have all the answers to have it together. And I remember being in a Bible study one time and sharing about some struggles in my marriage.

Jeff C:

And I got a call the next day from a guy in the Bible study who said, “I’m going to leave the church.” And I said, “How come?” He goes, “Because you’re struggling in your marriage.” And I’m like, “What?” And he’s like, “I don’t want to have my pastor be someone who’s struggling in their marriage.” And what I realized was, you want to be, especially when you’re in ministry and leadership, you want to be authentic but people want you to, in some ways, be better than you are.

Jeff C:

And what I started to see and started to beat myself with, Warwick, was I started to realize I wasn’t as good as I wanted to be or they wanted me to be, and that was really lonely. And so, I’d wake up in the middle of the nights and I couldn’t sleep because I’d be angry at myself, I’d be disappointed with others. And I stopped sleeping through the night. I would probably end up getting three or four hours of sleep and then I was tired.

Jeff C:

And I was going through what, in retrospect, was burnout because I was working hard. But I started to feel like I’m a failure, I’m not who people want me to be. I’m really not as spiritual as I want them to think I am. And now, there’s this gap between what I’m wanting and what I am and that created a crucible season in my life, where something needed to change.

Warwick F:

The sad thing is pastors are humans, and they have challenges in their lives and marriages and kids like anybody else but yeah, you’re not allowed to that. I mean, that must create enormous stress in that I want to model authenticity but they don’t want that. They want me to model perfection and Mr. Super-spiritual Superman is what they want, right?

Jeff C:

And again, what I felt like was lacking was the safe place to really share what was going on and come back to hope. And I would end up dumping on my wife things that almost like she would carry. And what I didn’t realize is I was almost creating this germ inside of her through my negativity and my complaining and my victimness. When we think of the hero, the hero is able to take what’s happened to them and overcome it. I started to play the victim and I started to believe I was cursed, that somehow all these terrible things that were happening to me, and these people who didn’t understand me were making me cursed. And it’s when we get to the place where we’re playing a victim, especially in leadership, that poor me, things have happened bad, that’s where we are needing something new. We need a breakthrough. We need new hope. And so, that’s where I was in my leadership.

Warwick F:

I mean, anybody that’s a pastor or even a business executive, a CEO, VP, they can relate to your story. They’ve been there. It’s like, “I can’t tell my boss I don’t know what I’m doing. I can’t tell my boss I’m thinking of quitting.” I mean, really? That’s not a conversation you can have. That’s not a safe place at all. So, does that make sense?

Jeff C:

Yeah. I had two experiences that woke me up to this. One was where I was, for the first time, meeting a CEO of a Fortune 500 corporation in beautiful big office overlooking Boston. And we started to talk and share and I think I was a little bit vulnerable with him. And he said, “Hey, could you close the door?” And I said, “Sure.” I got up, closed the door. I sat back down. He goes, “I need to tell somebody this and I haven’t able to tell anybody this.”

Jeff C:

He said, “I’ve been having an affair for the last six months and it’s eating me alive.” And I realized that here I was this young guy, totally new, and I was somebody he was telling someone as vulnerable as that. The second thing that happened was, a number of years later, there was a guy who had been the CEO of another major corporation and he was retiring, very famous CEO, a man of faith. And we had a question and answer time.

Jeff C:

He was talking to pastors and business leaders, and we did a gathering with him. And I asked a question at the end, I said, “Hey, if you were to do your business over again, what would you do differently,” because he just retired. He looked down and then he looked up and tears were streaming down his face. He said, “I’d had a friend.” I said, “What do you mean?” He goes, “I had nobody who I could share with. I had people on my board.”

Jeff C:

“I had people who are nonprofits who wanted money from me. I had people who worked for me, but I didn’t have anybody who I could share the real stuff with.” And that was a calling moment for me because I realized that’s what my dad didn’t have. He didn’t have anyone in his life who he could share the real stuff with and so I think that’s why he bifurcated his life and his business. And that was when for me, I was like, “I want to be that.”

Jeff C:

“I want to be that for leaders, and I want to help raise up other people who can be that for leaders.” Because that can change the story and change the story for them in their emotions, change the story in their relationships or in their moral issues.

Warwick F:

That’s such a powerful point you just made. You wanted to be the friend and confidant that your dad didn’t have and that you didn’t have at that point in your life at the church. So, I want to shift from there, but talk about what was the lowest moment when you’re at the church that caused you to say, “You know what, I have got to change directions here because this is just,” maybe it wasn’t destroying you, but it was not good for you. So, talk about the lowest moment that caused you to say, “I need to shift. This cannot continue.”

Jeff C:

I can go back to it instantly. I know it in a heartbeat. There was a leader who was part of our team who had moved from Chicago to Boston to be a part of our team. And he called me to tell me that he and his wife had decided to move somewhere else, and they were leaving. And I think I put a lot of hope in him being a part of things. And I’d already been feeling alone in this. And when he told me he was leaving, I tried to keep a smile on my face and go, “Hey, if God is leading you elsewhere,” I gave him all the good God talk.

Jeff C:

I hung up the phone and I picked up this 25-pound thing called a concordance, okay, which is a big book at the time before things were online. I held it above my head and I threw it across the room, breaking the book, breaking the wall and started just yelling, “I hate my life. I hate my job. I hate leadership. I hate the church.” I mean, I just lost it. And my wife walked in at the moment and just looked at me with just sheer terror. Okay.

Jeff C:

And she’s like, “You have lost it.” And I knew at that point that I couldn’t just keep doing what I was doing, hoping for different results. And in a nutshell, I ended up getting in my car, taking every journal I’d ever written, driving to Vermont, driving to New Hampshire and just getting away to the mountains, which has now influenced my own passion to have leaders get away to the mountains. But it restored my soul.

Jeff C:

I started realizing I needed silence and solitude, and I needed to get away. And I needed to have the time and the opportunity to reconsider my own life, but it was because I had flamed out. I mean, I was violent. I mean, I would have hit somebody had they come in, if it wasn’t my wife standing there.

Gary S:

This is an interesting opportunity, Jeff, because we talk about it all the time at Beyond the Crucible and at Crucible Leadership in general. And we say it a lot and we don’t really unpack it all that often. And this is a great pivot point where we can unpack it. We say your crucible experience can change the trajectory of your life but it doesn’t have to be the end of your story. If you will learn the lessons of your crucible and move forward, it can be the beginning of a new story that leads to a life of significance.

Gary S:

That’s where we are in your story right now. Your crucible is there. You’ve got your journals. You’re driving to Vermont, you’re driving to places. What was the lessons? Can you touch on a couple of the lessons and how those lessons came to you that led you back from the pit of your crucible at its most explosive to then the path that you’re on now? What was the first kind of learnings that came to you as you got away?

Jeff C:

Yeah. As leaders, most of us become too busy to care for our own souls and invest in our own, what I call soul care. I ended up in this little town in New Hampshire, went into a bookstore, one of those bookstores that had about 80 books. It wasn’t Barnes & Noble. And there was a book there by an author that someone had mentioned to me, a guy named Henri Nouwen, who was a priest. And the book was called the Life of the Beloved.

Jeff C:

I took the book off, started to read it there. And I bought the book, went to a coffee shop and read it front to back. And the whole concept of the book was that, that we are truly loved, not because of what we do, not because of our family name, not because of the family business, not because of how much money we’ve made, that in our true identity, we are someone who is loved, loved by God, and we’re lovable.

Jeff C:

And what I’ve come to see is that, that is the foundation of everything. I mean, I’ve worked with millionaires, billionaires. Doesn’t matter how much money you have, we still have to go, “Am I important? Do I really matter? What’s my identity?” It could be somebody who’s an entrepreneur, they want to succeed. But it has to start with I don’t need to prove myself. I am loved. And that one concept is truly a transformational concept and we need to take it from our head to our heart.

Jeff C:

And that began a journey for me to go, “How do I keep coming back to that as who I am, instead of what I prove, what I do, what I earn?” And so, identity matters.

Warwick F:

You made a choice to go and seek some solitude to say, “Okay, Lord, what next?” Why did you choose the path of I got to figure this out and change my life, rather than I’m just going to be angry and bitter forever? Because not everybody chose your path. Why did you choose that path?

Jeff C:

I can’t help but thinking of a cartoon I saw recently, where there’s a monster walking into the room and there’s someone under the covers. And the monster goes, “Oh, nuts, they’re under the covers. I can’t do anything.” But I think there’s this part of us that wants to just hide under the covers when there’s something wrong inside of us and I think it can be physical, it can be emotional, it can be relational.

Jeff C:

Sometimes it comes from breakdown in a marriage, where there’s something that’s wrong. And so, a good doctor knows that you’ve got to start with diagnosis. You’ve got to get to what’s really going on. And to do that, you need space. I mean, so my wife and I are creating this 26 acres in Boulder, Colorado to give leaders space, not for information but to process. My wife was talking at a summit, a Q Conference a few years ago.

Jeff C:

And she said, “There’s a difference between the transfer of information and transformation.” And I think what a lot of us have realized is information is great but it’s not enough. We need practices. We need things that are going to bring us back to life. And in the book of John, Jesus said, “I’ve come that they might have life and have it to the full.” And so, when we start to go, “Hey, that’s a great concept. But if our life doesn’t feel abundant, are we doing something to change that?”

Jeff C:

And that’s where I’ve come to believe that certain habits, certain practices that are both spiritual as well as just life good habits can bring and breathe life back into us. And so, they’ve become what I call my habits of hope because I know that I’m just that far away like an alcoholic back into the guy who’s going to throw the books across the room, shout my life stinks and go back there. And so, practices make all the difference.

Warwick F:

Yeah. And I want to get into the habits of hope. I love that word practices. But just before we do, you’re in Vermont, New Hampshire. You’re having some solitude. What was some of those first inklings that began to shift you to doing what you do now with We Train Coaches and Habits of Hope and the Soul Care Ranch? What were some of those? Maybe it’s an epiphany but there were some inklings that led you to where you are now. What were some of those first inklings you were getting as you were in solitude?

Jeff C:

Yeah, it took a while but that solitude was life-giving. I mean, first, I came back a different person. One of the things that happened when I was there was my first real girlfriend passed away when she was 19 and I was 18. And I went to her grave. I hadn’t been there since she died. And as I was staring at her grave, I saw this old couple pull up and go up to this tombstone. And I sat there just watching them and thinking they’re going to be here soon. And my friend Cindy is no longer alive.

Jeff C:

It was almost like seeing death that made me go, “Jeff, do you want to live or do you want to die? Are you ready to engage life?” And so, I think we’ve all got to make that do I really want to live decision and am I really living now. And I realized I wasn’t living. One of the things that God brought into my life coaches, one of whom was a mentor consultant who I still meet with. I met with him this week. His name is Bob Beal.

Jeff C:

As I was meeting with Bob, and he became that safe place, I looked at him and I thought, “Man, I wish my dad had this. And man, I wish so many other leaders had what he’s bringing to me.” And I thought, “How can I do what he’s doing?” And certainly, it’s not for everybody but I’ve come to believe that if there could be spiritually minded, great coaches for leaders that could help leaders have the safe place, have them find their story or change their story, that could be something that I could give my life to. And that began a journey for me of how do I learn to coach, how do I become a coach, and how can I bring coaching to others in the way that Bob has done that for me?

Warwick F:

That’s so profound, I think, what you’re saying. What we’ve said is, you wanted to become the person that you needed and your dad needed. That was maybe, you said earlier, what’s the thing that you feel like It really bugs me. It angers me that there’s not enough of x. Well, x for you is being the coach that you needed and your dad needed and that was maybe, some people have called it your holy discontent. That felt like that was for you.

Warwick F:

And I love all the things you do. I mean, there’s so many. You mentioned before what you and your wife do at Soul Care Ranch. That sounds like it’s replicating, to a degree, what you had in Vermont in those days, probably more better, if you will. It probably includes coaches and mentors, places to use. So, talk a bit about Soul Care Ranch. And it sounds like the genesis of it was that time at Vermont but it’s more than that. It’s more than just solitude, right? So, talk a bit about what you do at the Soul Care Ranch.

Jeff C:

Well, I think we all love content, right? I’m a content junkie. We love conferences. But what we came to believe is there needs to be space for transformation, for people to get away and be in nature because nature breathes life. The mountains of Colorado are absolutely stunning. But they need to then be able to spend time processing on some of the bigger questions. Where do I need healing?

Jeff C:

What do I need to avoid? What is the vision that is really my vision? And so, we’ve been creating and raising up spiritual directors and coaches who can work with leaders and then have the space and time for it. A lot of people go on vacation, and vacation is awesome. But this is like a vacation for the leader’s soul, where you get away and you create the space to meet with a coach but also to meet with God, to meet with yourself, and it not be rushed. Because busyness and rush is destroying too many good things. So, what if there’s this place that brings leaders to life, and that’s what we’ve been creating in the last couple of years. And it’s just been life-giving, even for Mindy and I to give and create what we wished we had.

Warwick F:

There’s a line you mentioned, I think, before we were on air. And this is true probably for people in ministry and nonprofits, that they’re running around trying to care for other people’s souls. And I think you said, “Well, I needed somebody to help me care for my soul” or something to that effect. I think that’s just so profound because leaders, even in businesses, I mean, more enlightened leaders realized they need to treasure their employees.

Warwick F:

You wouldn’t have achieved profitable results without a great team. And so, a lot of leaders, well-meaning leaders are pouring out, pouring out, but nobody is pouring into them. They’re not caring for themselves. And like elsewhere, you talked about elite athletes, and you got to take care of your body if you’re an elite athlete. Well, if you’re a leader, you got to care for yourself. So, just talk about that concept because I think it’s really profound.

Warwick F:

You pour and pour out caring for others but yet, you got to care for yourself, which is not selfish. You can’t care for anybody else unless you start caring for yourself. Let’s talk about how do you look at that? What’s your philosophy?

Jeff C:

Yeah. I remember, as a CEO, my dad used to go once a year and get this big checkup, where he’d go and have somebody look at all different elements of his physical body. And I think that’s really significant, we all need that. But I also think we need times to get away and get a checkup of our deeper selves, our emotions, our purpose. Are we doing the right thing? Are we going in the right direction, our identity, our soul?

Jeff C:

And I think that, if I was to wish something, I would wish there could be an army of call them coaches who would bring that kind of surgeon general for the soul type of approach to help leaders. Because I mean, some of my mentors, and maybe you know who these people are, Gary and Warwick, is they’ve become tabloid of what their failures are, their moral failures. And these are good people who went down paths that they didn’t plan on going.

Jeff C:

And what I found in coaching is, because I’ve been in that safe place, I feel like I’ve worked with some leaders and helped them avoid it just because I asked them the questions. I asked them like, “Hey, right now, one to 10, how are you doing personally? One to 10, how are you doing morally?” And they felt like and they knew that I wouldn’t share what they were really telling me. But there are a lot of times, “Well, I’m a nine, I’m a 10.”

Jeff C:

And then, every once in a while, it’s like, “I’m a two.” “All right, do you want to talk about it?” And so, I feel like if we could have that for leaders as a way of their regular life, no matter where you are in leadership, if you’re a young leader especially, having where you get away, where somebody is going to help get into the deeper parts. And then, you meet with those people maybe once a month or twice a month over the year to stay on track. What could happen?

Warwick F:

Yeah. I mean, that’s awesome, having that safe place where you really can talk about these things and soul care. I love the concept you have in Habits of Hope. And it’s like if you want to stay, it’s funny, it’s been in the back of my mind about some of these things even before we spoke. But if everybody these days they want to eat right, avoid junk food. They want to be healthy, exercise, stretch, cardio. Everybody knows that makes sense.

Warwick F:

But people don’t tend to think about, well, what does that look like for the soul, for the inner being? Very few people do that. So Habits of Hope, so talk about, I know there’s a lot of stuff in there, but talk about what are the key concepts you would say. And if you need to be physically fit to really do anything, what does it mean to have a fit soul, if you will? What are some of those habits of hope that… because you can’t go on a retreat every week.

Warwick F:

What are some of those habits of hope that help sustain your soul so that you don’t go to retreat and say, “Where are you morally, ethically, marriage” and it’s like, oh, I’m a one, one, one on every… ideally, a retreat is good. You can’t rely on that as the whole solution, obviously, which I’m sure you tell folks. So, what are some of those key habits of hope that sustains you day in, day out and sustains your soul?

Jeff C:

Yeah. One of the most encouraging things that I think has come out of neuroscience in the last number of years is that our brains can change. We’re not stuck with the brain we inherited or grew up with or we had 10 years ago. There’s a thing called neuroplasticity, which means that you can create new neural pathways in your brain. In the Bible in Romans, it talks about being transformed by the renewing of your mind, and that we can become better, healthier, happier, joyful, hope-filled people.

Jeff C:

And so, what are the practices that do that? And one of them is just so simple, that it’s almost crazy simple. It’s just you take the time each day to literally in your mind think, “What am I grateful for? What in my life is good?” Because I could paint a picture and you could feel really bad for me with things that are bad. Or I could say, “Hey, let me tell you about the things that I’m grateful for.” So, every single morning after I have my coffee, I actually list out things that I’m grateful for.

Jeff C:

They could be Barney, my dog. They could be I get to live in Colorado. I mean, literally this morning, it was that I was going to be on this podcast. And so, by having those habits where you see you’re blessed instead of cursed, your mind starts to believe it and ultimately, we really are blessed. But the victim part of us says, “I’m cursed, I’m broken, my life stinks.” I could tell you stories of things that have happened in the last two weeks that are hard. But the heroes focuses on how am I being transformed in order to live into my better story. And so, I know I have a better story but I’ve got to practice the things each day that bring me back to the better story.

Gary S:

I want to make sure listeners understand the application to themselves. And that is, it is true, is it not, that no matter how bad your crucible is, no matter how rough your circumstances, even you standing by the wall with an exhaustive concordance that weighed 25 pounds, ready to hurl it into the wood or the plaster or whatever it was, even you, if you would have taken time instead to focus on gratitude, would have had things to enumerate that you had gratitude for. Is it true that all of us, regardless of our circumstances, can find if we look hard enough, and it’s not that hard sometimes, things to be grateful for.

Jeff C:

Yeah, any great fiction writer knows, and I’ve learned this from great fiction writers is that, what they do is they bring about certain circumstances that their characters need to respond to. And how their character responds is what makes a great story. And so, in all of our lives, we’re going to get faced with… I mean, we just had a huge fire come through Colorado. We get faced with these circumstances.

Jeff C:

Now, how will we respond? We can respond with, “I’m cursed, I’m a victim, and I’m even a villain because I’m going to get you for it.” Or I can respond with, “Man, I get to live into this adventure. Look at how many things I still have going right. And I believe that God ultimately has things in his hands.” That’s where my faith comes in, that God cares about me in the midst of this, that God loves me in the midst of this. That’s where I feel like there’s the biggest hope. And so, the habits of hope are practicing the things that bring me back to that way of thinking.

Warwick F:

Yeah. I mean, that’s so profound what you’re sharing, Jeff. I mean, I totally agree and concur. Yeah. I mean, every day, I have my practices, probably not that different than yours. Daily Bible study and reflection. My church actually, every year, our pastor puts out the chapter of daily book in which a lot of different ways of going through the Bible, but it’s right there for everybody in the church.

Warwick F:

We pick it up the first few days of the year and off we go. So, that’s a part of that. But also I do reflect, I think it’s almost like breathing for me or just a habit. I could look back and say, “Gosh, I lost this two billion plus family business and et cetera.” I look back and say, very similar to you, I’ve been married almost within a year, the same length of time and I just say, “Thank you, Jesus, that you brought… we’ve been married at ’89, whatever that is, about 32 years.” It was all the Lord.

Warwick F:

It’s a subject for another podcast, but it was definitely I felt like the Lord telling me, “This is the one I’d have for you in life.” I was 100% certain, I checked it with some brothers who are believers and all the rest of it as you should on anything like that. But as the decades have gone by, I thought that was clearly the Lord. I’m so blessed with three wonderful kids. I love what I do in Crucible Leadership. We have a great team.

Warwick F:

I get to hear people’s stories such as yourself. I mean, I’m so blessed. The Lord has provided us financially, way more than we need. I mean, yeah, there are challenges, but I look at all of those things and I just say, as a person of faith, “Thank you, Jesus, thank you, Jesus,” I mean, pretty much every day. And the more you do, it’s like the gratitude almost increases. You get to be just so focusing on gratitude and having those spiritual disciplines.

Warwick F:

If you’re a person of faith, read the Bible. If you’re not a person of faith, find whatever anchor for your soul is. I mean, at least to me, there are these A type people that go a million miles an hour. That tends not to be my rhythm. I’m a reflective person. So, I know if I don’t take space to just be and not run around like a crazy person, my writing will suffer, my thinking will suffer, my interviews on podcasts will suffer.

Warwick F:

So, I try not to go too far too fast if I don’t have to, and just say, “Okay, Lord, you’re in control. It’s not about achieving some big result. I just want to be faithful. And I don’t know, I don’t know if any of that makes sense. But I’m a huge believer and those habits of hope provide fulfilling life, so it’s huge. I really hope listeners hear what you’re talking about. Any reflections you want to add on habits? Because it’s a massive subject, obviously, and really important.

Jeff C:

Yeah. I mean, I think I would just say there needs to be a paying attention to what are you doing when you’re neglecting your soul and what are the symptoms? When you’re neglecting, is it anger, is it victimhood, is it discouragement, is it depression? And then, when you do those things, note the difference. When you spend time taking a walk, breathing, to simply like 10 times a day, just take a deep breath and think of something you’re grateful for.

Jeff C:

It could be something as simple as that. And going back to that scripture I quoted in John 10:10, the thief comes to steal, kill and destroy. Whether you believe there’s a spiritual principle out there or spiritual person out there that’s seeking to take that from you, or you just are doing it yourself. What is stealing, killing and destroying? And then, what will you do to fight against that? I mean, because you can build all the strategies and get all the education and knowledge.

Jeff C:

But if you’re not doing the daily practices that keep that stealing, killing and destroying from happening, and instead breathing life back into you, you’re missing all that you’re going to bring through your presence. I mean, you’ve probably heard your greatest present is your presence. And for leaders, your greatest present is your presence. Because if you’re not fully there, everybody suffers, the people who work for you, with you, or even the coaches who coach you.

Warwick F:

I think another aspect of habits of hope or soul care I think listeners should consider, I think we’re touching on this. If you have a splitting migraine and a few days go by, you’re not going to ignore it. You’re going to go to the doctor and figure it out, right? Because if you ignore it, it might be something really bad that could have been solved a lot sooner. I think it’s the same with the soul.

Warwick F:

I mean, I do my daily Bible reading, I’m grateful, I pray. But being human, there are times in which I get angry or frustrated about things and sometimes I don’t know what it is. So, I’ll think and pray about it. Often, I’ll say to my wife who knows me well, “Look, I’m angry about something. I don’t know what it is. Help me figure it out.” And typically, we’ll figure it out. And then, “Okay, so what do I do about it? Do I need to talk to somebody? Do I need to pray?”

Warwick F:

So, when you have those early warning signs of anger, frustration, don’t stuff it. Deal with it, figure it out. If you have a coach or a mentor, perfect. I’m feeling annoyed about something. I do not know what it is. Help me figure it out. Those to me is also part of, at least from my perspective, maybe it’s not habits of hope but soul care. In that when you have those early warning signs, don’t wait till the crisis happens. Deal with it.

Warwick F:

I mean, the tools you’ve mentioned, Jeff, provide outlets for that. You’ve got a soul care retreat. You’ve got mentors, you’ve got friends, you’ve got coaches. There are people who can help you get in touch with what that anger and frustration is, and you can deal with it before the whole ember turns into a massive forest fire and your house burns down. As we close and the time is getting on, does that make sense, just that early warning system?

Jeff C:

Yeah. And it’s not weakness to need to surround yourself with people and processes that can help. It’s actually wisdom. It’s strength to know that you need others in your life who are going to ask those questions or coach you, or you need practices, and you need the time to do that. So, I would say if you see some of those symptoms, don’t just ignore them. Do something proactive to get to the place where you’re thriving because you thriving is what the world needs.

Gary S:

Speaking of practices that are necessary, the captain has turned on the fasten seatbelt sign indicating that it’s getting to the time that we’re going to need to land the plane here in our very interesting conversation on Beyond the Crucible with Jeff Caliguire. Jeff, before we do that though, and Warwick asks you another question, I would be remiss if I did not ask you on behalf of our listeners, how can they find out more about you? How can they find you on the internet?

Jeff C:

So, you may be listening to this and thinking, “Man, I would love to be that kind of coach,” because I’m trying to raise up and train coaches who are spiritual leaders. I believe coaches can be those spiritual leaders. And if that’s intriguing to you, go to WeTrainCoaches.com. And then, there’s an assessment there called Is Coaching For Me? And there’s also people who may be going, “How do I bring a coaching approach to transform my culture?”

Jeff C:

That’s also something that we work with, with leaders who are wanting to say, “How do we bring that into a culture by raising up leaders who think like a coach and raise up others in a coaching manner?” So, WeTrainCoaches.com. My wife’s website is SoulCare.com. And there’s tools there for those who are going, “Hey, how do I go deeper in my own spiritual practices?”

Jeff C:

The book, The Habits of Hope, probably the best place I just say, go to the habitsofhope.com and you can order it there. There it is.

Gary S:

Right here. Here it is right there. So, Warwick, the final question is yours.

Warwick F:

Well, thank you, Jeff, for being here. I mean, it is so encouraging, soul care and habits of hope and surrounding yourself with people that can really be a sounding board and really a safe place. As we sum up, what would you say is a key message of hope, that if you forget everything else, what is the most important thing you want listeners to take away from our discussion today?

Jeff C:

Hope can be grown. It really is like a muscle. If you were to say where you are personally or where you are in hope right now, and you’re a six or a five or something, I really believe that hope can get to a whole new place. But just be intentional and go. If you are a person that has an amazing hope, what will that do and what journey will you go on to grow your hope intentionally?

Gary S:

I’ve been in the communications business long enough to know when the last word on the subject has been spoken and Jeff has spoken it. The captain has indeed put the plane on the ground. Listener, I have a few notes I’ve been taking as Jeff and Warwick had been talking, some key takeaways that can help you as you embark on your own life of significance. And the first one of that, one of the first things Jeff said that really, really struck me was, find your deep gladness and apply it to the world’s deep need.

Gary S:

I’ll say that again so you get it. Find your deep gladness and apply it to the world’s deep need. That’s a recipe for what we call a life of significance. We say it’s crafting a vision rooted in your gifts and passions and living out of these things to live a life on purpose to serve others. That’s how we express it. And for helping discovering your deep gladness as Jeff calls it and your life’s vision as Warwick calls it, you can visit our website, crucibleleadership.com.

Gary S:

In there, you can take our free life of significance assessment. Discover, are you a world changer? Are you a star performer? Are you an imagineer? Take the assessment at crucibleleadership.com and find out. Second takeaway from Jeff, beware victimhood. That’s a good one. When Jeff started to view his frustration and depression as a pastor is the fact that he was a victim, that’s when his crucible really went deeper and darker.

Gary S:

Your discontent is a sign but not of the fact that you’re a victim. It’s a sign that you need to discover a path forward in line with your gifts and your passions. And the third takeaway is what we ended our conversation on today. And I’m going to use the exact words that Jeff used when we asked him in a pre-interview questionnaire, what’s a critical action you believe listeners can take to find hope and healing after a setback?

Gary S:

This is what Jeff wrote. Make gratitude your way of life. Write it, breathe and focus on something to be grateful for multiple times each day. Multiple times each day, plug into gratitude and that can change your perspective and pretty soon change your circumstances. Listeners, thank you for spending this time with us. Until we’re together next time. Please remember this that your crucible experiences we know, we heard some from Jeff, we’ve heard Warwick’s before. You heard mine a couple of weeks ago on the show.

Gary S:

Crucible experiences are difficult. They can knock the wind out of your sails. They can knock the air out of your lungs. They can change the trajectory of your life, but they’re not the end of your story. In fact, if you take the lessons of those and you learn the lessons of those crucible experiences, as Jeff did, as Warwick did, as I’ve done, and you move forward beyond your crucible, your story can move into its greatest place ever. The greatest story of your life can be the next story of your life because that story leads to a life of significance.