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Gaining From Loss VI: A Roadmap to Recovery #143

Warwick Fairfax

December 6, 2022

We put a bow on the package of our special fall series by exploring the wisdom we heard from all five of our guests. The insights they offered form a roadmap for how to find gain out of even the most devastating losses: be patient, work to change what you cannot accept, understand there is room for your pain on the other side of your loss, intentionally cultivate joy as you continue to grieve and live as a good ancestor to those who come after you.

Highlights

  • Why we did a series on gaining from loss (2:19)
  • Our struggle with naming the series … and why our fears were unfounded (4:45)
  • The biblical idea of gaining from loss (7:38)
  • The emotional throughline shared by all gains from loss (14:50)
  • Learning No. 1: Be patient (17:49)
  • Learning No. 2: Work to change what you cannot accept (28:00)
  • Learning No. 3: Understanding there is room for your pain on the other side (39:06)
  • Leaning No. 4: Intentionally cultivate joy as you continue to grieve (47:36)
  • Learning No. 5 — Live as a good ancestor to those who come after you (56:11)
  • The moment that surprised Gary the most (1:08:06)
  • The moment that surprised Warwick the most (1:10:43)
  • Summarizing the series (1:15:56)

Transcript

Warwick Fairfax:

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

 

Gary Schneeberger:

The wounds we carry with us are not obstacles to simply get over. Rather, our wounds are the way through. And loss gives us new eyes to see the grace threaded through all humanity. She ended her thoughts on this subject by saying this, “A beautiful world waits for us on the other side of loss.” I’ll say it again so you absorb that. Write it down. Keep it in your planner. Put it on your phone, “A beautiful world waits for us on the other side of loss.” A world so expansive it has room for our pain.

Those words spoken by our guest, Kayla Stoecklein during our special fall series Gaining from Loss, make up just one of the nuggets we discussed today as we put a bow on the package, the gift that has been that series. Hi, I’m Gary Schneeberger, co-host of the show. Warwick and I dedicate this sixth episode of the series to exploring the wisdom we heard from all five of our guests. The insights they offered form a roadmap on how to gather the gains out of even the most devastating losses. Number one, be patient. Number two, work to change what you cannot accept. Number three, understand there is room for your pain on the other side of your loss. Number four, intentionally cultivate joy as you continue to grieve. And number five, live as a good ancestor to those who come after you. And here’s a pro tip before you keep listening. Have a pen and paper handy to take notes, not as homework, but as inspiration for soul work.

I think the place to start, Warwick is really to ask the question that may be on the minds of people who are listening right now. Maybe they didn’t hear all of the episodes. We encourage you to go back and listen if you did not hear all of them. But why did we do this series? What was the impetus for doing Gaining from Loss?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Well, this time of year, the holidays, the Thanksgiving, Christmas, New Year’s, a lot of holidays at this time of year, and it can be a time of celebration and joy, but it can also be a time of contemplation and sadness. It could be the loss of loved ones. I mean, as we speak, I’ve lost both my parents. My mother died five years ago. My dad, gosh, 30 years ago. I know you’ve lost your parents. There’s that sense of loss. And for some, their families, there may be challenges at the Thanksgiving table or Christmas dinner table or what have you. There could be tension. There could be conflict. There could be absence of ones who may be alive, but there’s broken relationships. So there’s a missing seat for the worst. In one sense, the worst reason is there’s unreconciled relationships. So sometimes, the holidays, they can be a time of joy, but they can be a time of contemplation, sadness, and sometimes a deep sense of loss. So that’s kind of why we thought of the holidays as a great time to talk about a series on loss.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And it seems, I mean kind of counterintuitive, right? The holidays are supposed to be, it’s the most wonderful time of the year. And as you said, it is not always, in our individual experiences, it’s not always the most wonderful time of the year because as you said, we’ve lost some loved ones along the way. We’ve got some conflict with members of our family and the learnings that we have to talk about here, we hope listener will help you navigate some of that rough terrain as you work your way through the most wonderful time of the year. One thing that I thought was really interesting, Warwick, and this entire episode, let’s say this at the outset, this entire episode is kind of based on the tent poles of this conversation that we’re going to have is based on the most recent blog at crucibleleadership.com, which summarizes the key learnings of this series.

But one of the things that that blog talks about is we struggled a bit with what to name this series. It didn’t occur to us until we were so busy planning the series and arranging guests that a few days before the series was about to hit record, and we were going to start talking to guests, it was like, “Oh, we don’t have a title for this thing. What are we going to call it?” And we knocked a few things around and we landed on Gaining from Loss, but we were worried a little bit. I’ll admit I was a little worried that will people think that’s a little too glib? Is it too cute, Gaining from Loss, get it? Loss and gain? And will people really at a deeper level, at a more meaningful level, be like, “Yeah, loss is not something you gain from.” Why did we ultimately land on choosing that title?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

At Crucible Leadership and Beyond The Crucible, we’re all about giving people hope. In every episode of this podcast, we talk about our guests’ worst day, how they bounced back from that, how they found hope and healing. So that’s really what we want for our listeners, is even if today’s their worst day to feel like that, there is hope in life. There is redemption in the broad sense of that word. And so loss is painful, whether it’s loss of a loved one, a physical tragedy, and we’ve had a lot of different kinds of loss in the podcast overall the last several years, certainly in this series we have.

And so what hope, what gain can you find from that loss? I mean, you can’t undo what happened such as the death of a loved one. What can you learn from that is there’s some way, while it’s devastating and you wish it never happened, is there some hidden blessing, some hidden gain that you can get from it. And it sounds counterintuitive. It almost sounds heartless cold, lack of empathy that each guest we had said that they did gain something from it. They learned something from it. It did give them, there was some hope that came out of it. So it sounds very counterintuitive, but there is something you can gain from loss. You never want the loss. Nobody wants loss like the loss of a loved one. But what can you learn from it? Is there some gain that you can get from tragedy? It’s kind of I think what we said along.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right. It was funny because the first episode that we did, I was still concerned enough about it that I asked our first guest, Shelley Klingerman, is that, “Would you say that you gained from your loss?” And she said yes. And then I asked that same question of every other guest, all five guests that we had, and all of them said, yes indeed. They had gained something from their loss. So from that perspective, we landed on a good place with the title. And here’s an interesting side note, and let me preface what I’m about to say, listener with this is not me trying to evangelize you. I’m not proselytizing when I quote from the Bible here. I’m doing it to show that this idea of gaining from loss wasn’t something that Warwick and I and the Beyond the Crucible team sort of figured out all on our own. We’re not that smart.

From the Bible, and I just heard this in church. Here’s why I’m bringing it up at all, because it’s like first and foremost in my mind and made me go, “Well, there’s nothing new under the sun.” And this idea of gaining from loss has been around a while. This last Sunday, which is as we’re recording this episode, was only three days ago, our pastor at our church preached out of Philippians 3. And in that chapter of the Bible, if you’re not familiar with it, it’s Paul, the Apostle Paul saying this. Now, just let me back up and give the back story, as Warwick likes to do, the back story of the Apostle Paul, he was Saul. He was not a follower of Christ. He was a persecutor of those who followed Christ. He was pretty high up in the hierarchy of people who were not Christians at that time.

So he had a lot of gain in his life in terms of how he was living day to day in the things that meant something to him. But then he has an encounter with Jesus. He becomes a follower of Jesus. And he loses all that worldly stuff that he had, but he also, once he starts following Jesus, ends up getting imprisoned and beaten. And he suffers many, many, many, many in our language, crucibles. In these verses in Philippians 3, this is what Paul says about the idea of gain and loss. He says this, “Whatever gain I had, I count it as loss for the sake of Christ. Indeed, I count everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. For his sake, I have suffered the loss of all things and count them as rubbish in order that I may gain Christ.” Again, we’re not having church up in here. I bring that up to say, in the first century, there was a guy talking about gaining from loss. This is not a new subject for us to be discussing, is it?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

It’s not, Gary. And it’s funny when you mentioned to me as we were preparing that you were going to mention this, what you didn’t know that this is Philippians 3:7 through 14. It’s one of my life verses. As I was recovering, as listeners would know pretty well by now, losing my family’s 150 year old media business in Australia with a failed $2.25 billion takeover bid. I felt like I betrayed my father, my great-great grandfather, John Fairfax, 4,000 plus employees at the company, caused ill feelings in my family. I mean so much was gone. But my faith and my faith in Christ as the cornerstone anchor of who I was, and I clung to these verses again in the NIV, that whatever were gains to me, I now consider loss for the sake ofChrist. What is more, I consider everything a loss compared to surpassing greatness of knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord, for whom I have lost all things.

And in the old NIV version, it says, “I consider them rubbish, that I may gain Christ to be found in him.”, and so forth. So I took this extremely personally that John Fairfax Ltd., 150 year old multi-billion dollar business. It’s lost, it’s garbage, it’s rubbish. It’s nothing compared to knowing Christ Jesus, my Lord. So in a broader sense, yeah it was a lot of money, but a higher purpose, a higher calling, a life of significance as we call it. But there were more things that are important than money, status, position, empires. Nothing wrong with success, but there’s more to life than empires. And then at the very end, one of the things I kept almost like a mantra on a daily basis going down to verse 13, but one thing I do, forgetting what is behind is training toward what is ahead. I press on toward the goal, to win the prize, which God has called me heavenward in Christ Jesus.

So I was thinking, okay, I’m going to forget what is behind. Okay, I made mistakes, cataclysmic mistakes, yes. It was a $2 billion loss, but I’m going to forget about that. It’s a daily basis of forgetting. It’s not one and done, and I’m going to move ahead with my life. That ended up being Crucible Leadership, took a while to get there, and it was an evolution, but I was not going to be stuck in the pit. I was going to move forward. And as we’ll hear, I’ve learned a lot from my loss. There’s been a lot of gain from my loss in my own life, with people we have on the team, friends such as yourself, Gary, and the work that we do in providing hope to others. So I’ve gained a lot. None of that would have been possible without the loss. Would it have nice to not go through that loss? Sure, that would be nice. The editorial cartoons and all of the stuff and the pain over several decades, sure. But have I gained from the loss? Oh no question. It’s been a lot of gain and blessing from that loss. So I can testify to that. So yeah, that verse is life verse life passage for me that I clung to as I tried to claw my way out of the pit, from my perspective divine help.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right. And two points to make off of what you just said before we get into the main course of what we’re going to talk about, one is this podcast wouldn’t exist if you did not gain from loss. I mean, you wouldn’t have created Beyond the Crucible. Beyond The Crucible is a concrete evidence of your gain from loss, right?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Absolutely. Yeah, I mean it is. And when I feel, like I was up at Seton Hall a few days ago, actually the end of last week as we’re recording this, when I’m giving speech to a university in northern New Jersey and giving speech to a first year class at Seton Hall with the Buccino Leadership Institute, what I was talking about your worst day doesn’t have to define you and there’s hope and redemption in a broader sense. It was clear that it was meaningful to them. And the questions I was asked was just profound and size of questions. Those are drops of grace. It’s like okay, the loss was bad, but I’m using that loss in some ways, in this case to help some students at Seton Hall to hopefully have some sense of hope and calling and redemption in a broader sense. So those moments make it feel like okay, there’s a hope, there’s meaning, there’s purpose. Those events are deeply meaningful as we move forward from our loss.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Yeah, and there’s the second point that I want to emphasize before we get into the main course, and that’s this. Your loss and the gain that you got from it and are still getting from it, is circumstantially different than other people’s. I mean, that’s a hallmark of what we’ve discovered on now more than 140 episodes of Beyond The Crucible, is that emotions that run through loss, that run through crucibles, we have discovered are remarkably similar even when the circumstances of that loss, of that crucible is much different. So all the guests that we’re going to talk about have had different losses than you, have had different losses than me, but there are some emotional touch points with what they have to say, with what they’ve been through emotionally, similar to what you’ve been through emotionally and me and everybody else we’ve talked to in 140 episodes.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah, it’s so true, Gary. I mean, I go back as listeners would be aware where Crucible Leadership in my book and Beyond The Crucible, my book, Crucible Leadership, Embrace your Trial to Lead a Life of Significance. It was birthed at 2008 when I gave a talk in church about what I went through and lessons learned. And since it’s a church, what I felt like some lessons God was sharing with me, at least in my life, when weeks and months afterwards, people would come up to me and say, “You know what, Warwick? What you shared really helped me.” And I’m thinking there aren’t any former media moguls in the congregation. This is a collection of just different folks in Maryland where I live. And so I think there’s this universality of pain and loss and vulnerability, which is remarkable to me.

I remember just one of our earliest guests on the podcast a few years ago, David Charbonnet, who was a Navy SEAL that was paralyzed in a training accident in southern California where he lives. And he became a paraplegic through that. And I remember saying to him, “David, I feel apologetic because what I went through is nothing compared to what you went through.” And in a very gracious and profound way, David said, “You know what, Warwick? Your worst day is your worst day. It’s not a competition.” And so every guest we’ve had, we’ve had quadriplegics, paraplegics, victims of abuse, people who’ve lost businesses, lost loved ones, every kind of crucible you can imagine, they all have the same heart and same spirit. It’s not a competition to who’s had the worst day, who’s had the worst tragedy. They’re very generous with that. And so yeah, I think I’ve learned a lot from that, that we can gain from these tragedies that happen to us. And our guests all have that broader perspective of hope and they don’t judge other people. And yeah, it’s remarkable. I just feel privileged to learn from the folks we’ve had on the series and certainly this last series, a ton. Yeah.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Well, let’s get into some of that stuff that you learned and that I learned. There are sort of five takeaway learnings, listener that we’re going to go through. These are all based on things that one guest told us as we were going through it. So five things, five guests. Each point is something one of those guests talked to us about when we interviewed them. What’s a practical action step that will help you gain from loss? The first point is be patient. And that came from our guest, Jason Schechterle. He was barely a year into his dream career as a police officer in 2001 when his squad car was hit from behind while it was stopped. It was hit by a taxi that was traveling more than 100 miles an hour. The explosive fire in which he was trapped for minutes left him in a coma for two and a half months, initially robbed him of his eyesight and led to severe scarring and disfigurement as he endured 56 surgeries to first save his life and then improve his life.

But even though the physical and emotional trauma of all of that was heavy, he has come to live by the motto he encourages those he talks to as a motivational speaker to live by. And he gave us, he told us, I actually saw him speak and he had it on a slide where he was speaking. I took a picture of it and we talked about it in his episode of the series. And what he says is sometimes the most beautiful inspirational changes will disguise themselves as utter devastation. Be patient. That one, obviously when I first heard him say it, struck me as really… Sorry to steal your word, profound, but also made me realize he would be a fantastic guest for the show. Right?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

It’s really true. I mean Jason is such an inspiring person. He’s filled with hope. I mean as some people might know, who had people go through medical tragedies, being a burn victim is I guess about as painful experience as you can possibly experience, as painful as humans can experience. And that was certainly his experience with 56 surgeries. And it took him years to just physically grapple with that. But accepting the fact that he is disfigured, I mean he won’t go to places like Disneyland because he’s afraid of the effect it will have on kids. He doesn’t want to scare them, which is so sad. But he’s just filled with hope and grace, and you have to listen to the podcast to just hear all the details. But it’s a miracle that he’s alive. He happened to be two minutes away from one of the best burn centers in the country, apparently in Phoenix.

And there was a police car very near and several hundred feet away a fire engine. I mean, they could put out his burning patrol car, and he wouldn’t have had his last child if he had died because his last child was born right after the accident. So he was just full of grace, full of gratitude for just being alive and his attitude to life, a lightness in his spirit despite the pain and the real physical challenges he has even today, it’s just inspirational. It’s hard to even understand how somebody could have the attitude that he has and to feel like his life is a blessing. I mean, later on in that blog that you wrote, you sort of end this section with a quote that he says in which he says, “I have gained everything and lost nothing.” It’s like, how can that be? But he’s just made that choice to be positive and his life and story is such an inspiration. It’s mind boggling to consider his attitude to life given the excruciating pain that he’s gone through and have to live with.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Both physically and emotionally, right?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yes.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

I mean there’s a lot of yes, there’s physical trauma for sure, but the emotional trauma in many ways was just as bad in its own lane. But the point he made there about being patient, there were a number of times, two and a half months in a coma, 56 surgeries. There are a number of times that Jason Schechterle could have said, “That’s it, I’m done. I’m not going to keep fighting. As you’ve said many times, I’m going to lie in bed, pull the covers over my head and just kind of do nothing. And then eventually death will come naturally, and that will be that.” His point was be patient. Tomorrow’s going to be better than today. It’s that optimistic view that good changes come disguised as losses if you wait them out, if you have resilience as you’ve pointed out. They can reshape themselves into gains, into blessings. And one of the things I’m going to love about this episode is I get to ask you questions I’ve never heard you answer before, which is kind of fun. And the first question I want to ask you on this idea of being patient is you talked a little at the top of the show here about your crucible, your big crucible of losing the family media dynasty, $2.25 billion. How was being patient part of your bounceback story of moving beyond your crucible? How did that look for you?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

I think for me, obviously I’m pretty self aware, I’m afraid, so I have my faults, but I have very high perseverance and patience, and elite in the perseverance sense. But there can be, am I always patient when my kids were younger in the ’90s and like most dads, it’s like, can we leave already? And then we would stop for five minutes on some rest stop on a freeway and it would be half hour, 40 minutes. I mean, how long does it take to go to the bathroom and get a snack? But I’d say 80%, 90% of dads across the country or the world have that sense impatient feeling. Let’s get going, let’s get to where we’re trying to go. But living that sense of patience, yeah, I mean for me it was just devastating. But just one more day, how can I move forward? It took a while in the ’90s.

I think for me, what kind of fueled maybe my patience was my faith, just that verse we talked about in Philippians 3, forgetting what is behind, training to what is ahead, losing $2.25 billion family business is, rubbish. It’s nothing compared to for me, my faith in Christ. So I guess my patience was fueled by my faith and I just clung to that, that nothing is more important than my faith. And again, in this case, my faith in Jesus, that was sort of an anchor for my soul that kept me going. And the love of my wife, who’s American, we’ve been married over 30 years and my kids, that unconditional love. And then gradually step by step as I took baby steps, and again, listeners are familiar with this, where I started off in an aviation services firm in Maryland in the late ’90s doing business and financial analysis, got on a couple nonprofit boards, became a certified International Coach Federation executive coach, after the talk in church, started writing my book, Crucible Leadership. And then from there, Beyond the Crucible the podcast and so forth.

So my patience, the anchor for that was my faith as well as the support of my wife and my family but as I had small steps, again I almost think of them as drops of grace, no matter how small. I was like, okay, I don’t think I thought of it in these Jason Schechterle terms that maybe tomorrow can be better than today. Today was better than yesterday. Hey, I got a job. I’m actually doing something that I can do. I was pretty good at Excel back then and could do financial analysis. So yeah, inherently, I’m somebody with very high perseverance. I can’t relate to what Jason went through, that level of pain. That’s Olympic level, more than Olympic level of patience and perseverance. I don’t feel like I needed that level. But that being said, it was yeah, my inherent, I guess I have a lot of perseverance in my wiring, values. I’m not sure how you look at it. My faith, support of my family, and then meaningful work where I felt like I was making a difference, even in some small ways. It was a combination of things that helped fuel my patience and perseverance.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Yeah, and all of this talk about being patient in the aftermath of loss made me think of, and I didn’t have time to look it up, so I may be remembering it wrong, I don’t know. But I seem to remember reading a story at some point in my career where it said that when you lose a job under circumstances that are not ideal to you, a loss, one of the worst things you can do is just jump into something else right away. In other words, breathe, take some time to make sure you’re doing what you’re going to do. It’s one of the principles of Beyond the Crucible is find out what it is that you’re really wired for, passionate about and go pursue that. And that’s another element of patience in the wake of a loss/crucible experience. All right, that’s point one, be patient, how you get beyond a loss and turn it into a gain.

The second point is to work to change what you cannot accept, not to accept what you cannot change, but to change what you cannot accept. Those words came from Shelley Klingerman. She would be the first to tell you, and she did on the podcast episode where we interviewed her. They weren’t original to Shelley Klingerman, she heard them somewhere and she repeated them on the show. But Shelley’s story is that her brother Greg, who was a police officer, was murdered last year in an ambush while he walked to his car after work. She was devastated by the loss, but refused to let, here’s the word that you used earlier, Warwick, that evil act be the period on the sentence of Greg’s life. She refused to accept what she could not change and instead dove into changing what she could not accept. So she launched a nonprofit called Project Never Broken, which is committed to extending hope and healing through stressing resiliency to other law enforcement officers and their families struggling through the aftermath of trauma.

Shelley dedicated herself to change what she cannot accept. And I’ve got my own story of how that has played out in my life will hopefully be helpful and instructive to you listener, especially as the holidays roll around. Relationships with family members can get sticky, can feel like it’s not the most wonderful time of the year. And if you listened 90 episodes ago or 40 episodes ago to the podcast in which Warwick interviewed me, I had a colorful crucible filled upbringing and early adulthood. Some of the fallout of that has been at times some tension in family relationships. There was one relationship a couple years ago, and I’ll say it. It’s with my sister Jill. She’s not going to be mad at me for saying that because we worked to change what we didn’t want to accept that there was a cleave between us, that there was a broken relationship there.

My determination when that happened just a few years ago when there was a falling out between me and my sister, my determination was simply to love her. My determination to change what I couldn’t accept. I would not accept that I would never speak to my sister again as long as I lived, so I was committed to change it. How was I committed to change it? I was going to love her every chance I got. When I wrote my first book on my sort of manifesto for public relations called Bite the Dog, I dedicated it upfront to five people. One of them was my sister Jill, who taught me how to write, not necessarily arranging words into sentences, but how to form letters at that age. She’s seven years older than I am. And through a series of events that led to her being made aware of the fact that I did that, she called me up one day, apologized for what she could own in that frame of the relationship.

And I immediately, again talking about change what you cannot accept. I could have stood my ground and said, as you can do this Christmas around the table folks, you can say, “Well you treated me badly and you cannot forgive.” I forgave instantly because what was more important to me than whatever “rights” I thought I had that were violated and I didn’t do everything either, I chose to change what I couldn’t accept. I couldn’t accept I’d never speak to my sister again. So when I had the opportunity, boom, like that, relationship mended, forgiveness extended, and we are today close as ever.

I’ve got texts in my phone filled with I love yous and photos and all those kinds of things. That is a real world example, especially as the holidays approach that some of you may be dealing with a strained relationship with a family member. If you’re going to sit around the table with them, even if you’re not going to sit around the table with them this holiday season, commit yourself to change what you cannot accept. Don’t accept the broken relationship. Commit yourself to change it. I know Warwick, you can’t go through life. You can’t go through life without having situations that you won’t accept, that you don’t want to accept and that you want to commit to change. I know you’ve had some experience with this too.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah, I have. But I just want to comment on what you said because it’s really profound as well as Shelley Klingerman. I mean one of the things that you mentioned is you have broken relationships and you basically said this. I think we can get too hung up on who was right. And one of the things that I say at least to myself, and to really anybody is being right is overrated, who’s right and who’s wrong. And certainly in a marriage, it’s like I’m not saying, oh, just confess things you’ve never done and all that. I’m not trying to be silly about it, but trying to minutely figure out, okay, how much is my fault? Their fault? My attitude is if there’s a 50-50 chance that what I did was wrong, I’d rather just say I’m sorry. And I feel like from my paradigm, if I’ve confessed to something that maybe really wasn’t my fault, I think God will forgive me for that.

I don’t think He’ll hold it against me if we confess too much. I don’t think He really holds the ledger that way. So be focused more on, as Gary said so eloquently, focused more on the relationship than “who’s right and who’s wrong.” And it takes two people. I mean, Jill could have pushed back despite every in entreaty and reach out that Gary did and said, “No, forget it.”, and then nothing Gary could have done then. But fortunately that wasn’t the case. It could have been. It sometimes is, but it wasn’t here thankfully. And that was a blessing. So yeah, be focused on you can’t heal everything but be focused on forgiveness and less focused on who’s right and who’s wrong.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Here’s something that I don’t want to stop you, but while this is going on, this idea of being right is overrated. I challenge you, listener to go visit a cemetery and look at the headstones. I will give you $100 if you can give me a picture of a headstone that says, “He was right. She was right.”, on someone who’s passed away. That’s just not the way life works when we’re no longer here. So live your life that way. Sorry, I didn’t mean to interrupt you, but I wanted to make that challenge to our listeners.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Very well said. And I think what I love about Shelley Klingerman’s story is losing her brother, he was just coming out of some federal building, FBI building I think. And he was just ambushed. He wasn’t even on the job as they say. He would just for no apparent reason. And so I love what Shirley Klingerman says, “I’m not going to let evil win.”, which means I’m going to find a way to make something good happen out of this devastating loss. And she turned her energy into Project Never Broken. Yeah, she could have used her energy to be bitter and angry, but she used that energy in a positive way. A lot to be learned from that, and I love the phrase work to change what you cannot accept. So yeah, I mean in my case, as listeners know, growing up in a very large family media business, where there’s a lot of wealth, there’s often a lot of broken relationships.

It’s just money and power tend to distort your thinking, your values. Everybody’s clawing for position at least to a degree. And there was broken relationships for many decades, even some decades before I was born. It’s just factions in the family. It doesn’t really matter who was right and who was wrong, but there was certainly some ill feeling and obviously when I launched the takeover and some other family members were on the other side of it, that caused ill feeling. And one of the things, and I wrote the book is I never wanted to write a tell-all book that said I was right, they were wrong. Because that’s lame, boring and untrue. I made plenty of mistakes.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Even though some publishers wanted you to do that in Australia.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Absolutely, absolutely. Yeah, I mean because dirt sells so to speak. I get it. I mean that’s why you have tabloids and certain sections of the newspaper world that it’s all about stuff on celebrities that you know and bad stuff they’ve done. But that was never my mindset. Yes, some family members had thrown my dad out as chairman in ’76, 11 years before I did the takeover in ’87. But I really never focused on things I thought maybe weren’t appropriate. I made certainly my share of mistakes in doing the takeover most of all. But yeah, I think over time, relations and I get asked this when I speak, relations are actually pretty good. Even a family member that probably had the most angst towards me over the years, when I sent him a book, he said, “Thank you for writing it. It was courageous and appreciate you doing it.”

So I felt like that was a good sign. So yeah, I mean in my own way I try to, certainly for me, I really try not to hold grudges, which is a process. I got to say it’s not a one and done, and forgive and it’s a muscle to be exercised in this whole relational forgiveness area that we’re talking about is from my faith paradigm, we forgive because we’ve been forgiven. Who of us are perfect? Who of us haven’t done things we’re not proud of? So if we want to be forgiven, we should forgive others. So it’s a mantra philosophy to live by from my perspective.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Right, and it makes me think, this whole idea makes me think, again, listeners who heard my episode of the podcast, episode 50 in which Warwick interviewed me of the Alcoholics Anonymous, the AA idea of all you can do as you’re trying to come back from your alcoholism and trying to live a life without alcohol. My sponsor told me all you can do is deal with your side of the street. That’s the only thing you can clean up is your side of the street. You’re not responsible for the other side of the street. So you do your best to forgive, to extend forgiveness, and to hopefully receive forgiveness, to make amends, to apologize, do those things. But you’re not in control of the ultimate solution. And I think what Shelley Klingerman said here is you work to change what you cannot accept. That doesn’t mean it’s going to go away, but you work to change it. And that will lift the weight off your shoulders. And it certainly has begun to do that for her, even though her brother was tragically murdered just a little over a year ago.

So those are our first two points, be patient and work to change what you cannot accept. Our third key point from the Gaining from Loss series is to understand there’s room for your pain on the other side. As you move beyond your pain, beyond your crucible, there’s still room over there on the other side for your pain. And that wisdom came from Kayla Stoecklein. Kayla lost her husband Andrew to suicide in 2018, leaving her a widow with three young boys to raise and an unexpected uncertain future to face. What she learned was as she moved forward tentatively at first, was that it’s a daily choice to welcome and acknowledge the pain, and it’s a daily choice to welcome and chase the joy.

This is another thing she said that was deeply meaningful, deeply resonant to me, “The wounds we carry with us are not obstacles to simply get over. Rather, our wounds are the way through. And loss gives us new eyes to see the grace threaded through all humanity.” She ended her thoughts on this subject by saying this, “A beautiful world waits for us on the other side of the loss.” I’ll say it again so you absorb that. Write it down. Keep it in your planner. Put it on your phone, “A beautiful world waits for us on the other side of loss, a world so expansive it has room for our pain.” What are your thoughts, Warwick, about Kayla’s experience and then your own experiences with understanding that truth, that the world on the other side of our crucible is expansive enough to welcome, to house our pain?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Kayla and her story are so profound. I mean her husband was a lead pastor at a large church in southern California, committed suicide at age 30. She was about the same age. She had three boys five and under. There was all sorts of anger understandably. Her husband had mental health challenges that they were trying to get him help for. So there was anger at probably, and she’s a person of faith, I would imagine her husband, God, I mean a whole series of things of how could this happen? How could you be in this position?

But she’s still in her early 30s and I was just amazed at the profound level of wisdom. She wrote a book Rebuilding Beautiful: Welcome What is, Dare to Dream Again, and Step Bravely into What Could Be. Rebuilding a beautiful life in a sense, which wasn’t perfect before her husband Andrew committed suicide, but it wasn’t bad. It’s just rebuilding a life. And one of the most profound learnings that she shared that we’re talking about here is she didn’t run from pain. She acknowledged it. As she puts it, welcomed it. In my words, she ran to the storm, ran headlong into the hurricane, if you will. I mean, who does that? You think when you see a storm, you run from it. And obviously if it’s a hurricane, yes, if it’s a real hurricane, I don’t think it’s smart or brave to head to the middle of it.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Thank you for that disclaimer, Warwick, for all our listeners.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yes, exactly.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Legal Department thanks you.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yes, Beyond the Crucible leadership listeners head into hurricanes. We were just following the Warwick and Gary. No, please don’t blame us for that. And I think that is so true and I think in my own way, I’m a very reflective person. I’m just wired that way. I’m pretty self-aware because I’m very reflective and I want to know why I’m thinking the way I’m thinking. If I’m fearful, I got to understand why I’m fearful. Because if I’m fearful about something, if I know what it is, first step to dealing with it is to know what it is. And if it’s personal, obviously I’ll typically talk to my wife Gale. But there’s no question in coming back from the pain of losing a $2.25 billion business, 150 year family business where I felt like I let my father down, my great great grandfather, John Fairfax, my parents, 4,000 plus employees at the company.

There was instability before. Eventually, other people took it over and went from there. There was a huge amount of pain. So yeah, Gale and I talked a lot. I had a period of counseling. I’m a great believer in that is appropriate where that’s helpful and with friends. So I’ve never been one to run away from the pain. I want to understand it, deal with it in the sense that you can’t really turn the spigot off and say, “Okay, today I won’t be in pain. Today, I won’t be in agony. I won’t be grieving. It’s ended. Okay, I’m good.” You cannot control your emotions. I don’t care who you are, how smart you are, how evolved you are. But what you can do is acknowledge it and understand it. Sometimes you might have a wave of, maybe not clinical depression, but depression or fear or some negative emotion. The first step is you understand it. Your loved ones will typically be able to help you decipher it. Maybe it is not that hard for your friends and family. And then as you understand it and acknowledge it, it does help in that sense heading into the storm to understand it. Because then sometimes understanding it can help. I mean, one small analogy, when I think of my own family and because of the wealth and money, there’s a fair share of dysfunctional relationships.

As I’ve looked at relationships with people and tried to understand, well why do they act the way they act? As I’ve understood their own hurt, their own challenges from their upbringing, understanding has made it easier for me to forgive and accept in the sense of not like it, not condone it, but as I understand it, it does make sense even with me, if I understand, oh I understand why I’m fearful or maybe I was triggered by something from my family business days. It does help me deal with it. And obviously as we’ve talked about earlier, as you use your pain and as I guess we heard earlier from Shelley Klingerman, as you use your pain for something positive, that’s another help. But certainly, understanding your pain, why it exists, where it came from, if other people caused it, as I often say, hurt people hurt people. Well why the people that hurt us, why were they hurt? Where did that come from? So understanding our pain and its origins is not the total solution, but it’s definitely a step in the right direction of being able to maybe not get beyond it but live with it better and maybe reduce its effects some, I’d say.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Yeah. Now here’s something that I didn’t realize until just now and I wrote the blog on which this conversation is based. Each one of these steps is kind of a step, a ladder if you will. You start after your loss, you start being patient. Don’t expect it to get enormously better overnight, step one. Step two, work to change what you cannot accept. once you’re able to move forward, once you’re ready to tentatively step ahead, work to change what you cannot accept. See how you can try to find the gain within the loss, how you can affect change in an area that may have been affected by what you lost. Then the third point that we just talked about, understand there’s room for your pain on the other side. So as you work through it, as you walk through it, there’s room for your pain when you get there. So you don’t have to leave it on the road. You can take it with you. There’s room for it when you get there.

Now we get to our fourth point, again an interlocking point that flows naturally from point three. And that is intentionally cultivate joy as you continue to grieve. And this wisdom came from Marisa Renee Lee, whose mother lost her battle with breast cancer when her daughter was only 25 years old. In the near decade and a half since then, Lee has crafted a successful career working on Wall Street and in the Obama White House. Her successes, she says have come not in spite of or even because of the loss that she’s lived through. She’s been able to live with the loss and thrive beyond it because she’s also never stopped living with the love that was there that made it a loss.

As she points out in her book Grief is Love: Living with Loss, we’re taught that grief is something that arrives in the immediate aftermath of death. And while that’s certainly true, it’s not the whole story. Here’s the key point. Grief is the experience of navigating your loss, figuring out how to deal with the absence of your loved one forever. It’s understanding that the pain you feel because of their absence, because you’ve experienced a great love. That love doesn’t end when they die, and you don’t have to get over it. In fact, she says a critical key to managing grief is to find joy to accompany it through such means as leaning into celebrations, is one of the things that she says. She also talks about, and I love this and this hit me so hard when we were doing the episode. I actually called her by the wrong name and I called her by her mom’s name because her point is be a Lisa, and her mom’s name was Lisa. And Lisa, her mom was someone who supported others, who gave to others, who helped others. That is a key point. Point four, cultivate joy as you continue to grieve. Continuing to grieve is okay. Find joy within it, right?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Absolutely. I mean, Marisa Renee Lee, she was and is such an inspiring person and just highly intelligent Harvard undergrad, worked in the Obama White House on a number of initiatives, including My Brother’s Keeper, which is a project for helping young African American boys and men. She worked in Wall Street. I mean she is an inspiring person to see. She’d say this is a person who, nothing will get her down. She will get through anything, intelligent, funny, nice, personable. But she is very open about it. And I think she has so many lessons for us because we often feel like if we’re intelligent, driven, highly evolved people, that if we lose a loved one, for instance, that three months, six months, a year, we should be able to get over it. With enough counseling, read enough books, enough intelligence, enough capacity, we can get through anything.

Our culture tends to teach us that in a sense. And she’s there to say no. I mean grief never really goes. You learn to live with it. You learn to balance joy and grief. But I mean, she lost her mom when she was 25. From the age 13 on, she was in grieving mode because her mother was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and later breast cancer. So she’s had a lot, many years of dealing with grief, of losing her mother’s physical capacity to be the mother she was, and then losing her mother ultimately in death. So she still grieves. She still has moments of anguish and agony, but she’s learned to balance both grieving and not stop living. She’s able to love and she puts it so eloquently, the more the love, the more the grief. It’s kind of inevitable.

And I love the title Grief is Love: Living with Loss. She figures out ways to deal with things, as you mentioned, celebrating things, talking about being a Lisa, her mother. She’s learned to try to bring humor into it. So she still grieves and we can’t control our emotions. A lot of our guests talk about you can’t control your emotions. You’ve got to learn to live with them, not ignore them, not stuff them, experience them and you learn to be able to live and experience, head towards them without it necessarily controlling you. Just some profound learning from Marisa as well as some of the other guests.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

This is the most exciting part of the show for me, because I’ve always wanted to ask you this question or a variation of this question ever since we started working together more than three years ago now. If this point and this point is point four is intentionally cultivate joy as you continue to grieve, listeners probably want to know this as much as I do. How did you find and cultivate joy, Warwick in your “lost years”, in those terribly painful years after the failure of the takeover that led you to have to basically leave Australia? How did you find joy in that time?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah, it’s a good question, Gary. So for me, after the $2.25 billion takeover failed and my wife’s American, so we moved to the U.S. in the early ’90s, which Australian newspapers have since called My Life in Exile or something. And when I went back to my mother’s funeral, she died at 95 and this was five years ago. It’s like Young Warwick as they always call me, comes back from exile. So listeners who are in the United States, just to let you know, you’re living in exile I guess. But I don’t think it’s that bad to place myself. But this is exile and I guess they call me Young Warwick because my father was SirWarwick, and it’s like, do I have to be 85 before I’ll stop being called Young Warwick? I mean, I’m not that young anymore, but oh well.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

I’d be happy if someone would call me Young Gary, to be honest with you.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

I guess it all depends on the context, but yeah, for me, I guess finding joy in the early ’90s or through the ’90s, we had young children. I have two boys and a girl, and so they were young, so just being able to play with them in the backyard with my oldest son, who life was grimmest I guess when my kids were youngest. And so therefore with my oldest son for instance, we’d throw baseball in the backyard. I grew up playing cricket, so not exactly the best baseball thrower in the world, but I figured it out, get a glove and throw and kick a soccer ball. But from the ’90s on, certainly soccer is very popular here.

And just the unconditional love of my wife Gale was just her acceptance. So just being joyful in the little things with my kids, birthday parties, birthday cakes for the kids, wrapping toys at Christmas, all those little things. I remember one year I got my daughter, it’s boy, girl, boy, my daughter this little red tricycle. And so of course you assemble it the night beforehand. How hard can it be? It was literally a three or four hour experience assembling this tricycle. It’s like, this is unbelievable. It sort of fills you with joy in one sense. And then as there were things that I could do and do well, like getting a job with a aviation services company and getting good performance reviews for doing finance and business analysis like, okay, that was a little drop of grace, a little drop of joy. And as I started doing meaningful work and on two nonprofit boards, feeling like I could contribute. So each of those little steps were drops of grace that gave me a degree of joy. That’s something I can do and not screw up. But it started in those, the harshest days, the hardest days in the early ’90s was just having a young family that just knew me as daddy and they loved me unconditionally as kids do, and just being able to play with them. Those were moments of joy that was definitely helpful as I look back.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

The fifth point in the blog, which is on crucibleleadership.com, which is kind of a ribbon on the package of our conversation here today, is live as a good ancestor to those who come after you. And I’m really excited to get your views on this because you talk about your ancestors and their influence on you. So it will be interesting to hear how you receive that exortation to live today as a good ancestor to your progeny who come after you. But that came from, that bit of insight came from Steve Leder, the senior rabbi of Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles, who says that even after officiating 1,000 funerals, more than 1,000 funerals, it wasn’t until his own father died that he felt like he truly understood the effect of death on him. When his father died, he realized that, and he said that the thing that it taught him was to make the most of what he called our blessed lives with the people we love.

His father’s death taught him that thing. And one of the things he said to us, and that he says a lot, I think, and it’s an inspiring way of inspiring others in how you live now that you’re beyond your crucible. He says this, “I often tell people that a great way to think about your life is to live as a good ancestor. We don’t think of ourselves as ancestors when we are alive, but we’re all going to be ancestors after we die. A very instructive question to ask while alive is this. Am I living as a good ancestor for the generations to come? Most likely that will lead to a very meaningful life.” So first, what was your takeaway from our talk with Steve Leder and then how does the idea, how are you hoping your progeny will look back on their great-great-grandfather, as you have talked often about your great-great-grandfather? But first, talk about Steve Leder.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah, Steve Leder is such an impressive person. He’s highly intelligent. He’s senior rabbi, as you mentioned at Wilshire Boulevard Temple in Los Angeles. It’s I believe, the oldest Jewish congregation in Los Angeles. It’s a very big synagogue. And Steve is an inspiring person because he mentioned, as you said, he officiated maybe 1,000 funerals, but just that sense of loss, he had new learning and meaning from it when his dad died and he’s very open about, they grew up in not a very wealthy background in Minnesota. In fact, his dad and uncle owned a junkyard. It was a tough life that he grew up in, and his dad was a tough guy and he was harsh almost in some sense. So it wasn’t an easy relationship. It wasn’t easy to win his favor, from Steve to his dad. So he was open about that.

But when he died, I think he began, I love his book titled The Beauty of What Remains. You begin to really look at what’s important. There are a lot of things that he valued about his dad and some things he’s open about saying he doesn’t want to copy, that he learned a lot in that process. And just that sense, that excellent question about how to live your life as a good ancestor, some of the people we’ve had on the podcast and we talk about live your legacy today, again we talk about this and others do. You think about your funeral. What is it that you want your family, loved ones and friends to say about you? Typically won’t be, “Oh, he or she had millions of dollars and the big title and controlled a massive company.” It would be more husband, wife, mother, father, friend. It’s just who they are as people and their character. That’s typically what will matter to others. So live your legacy, live as a good ancestor today.

I mean, it’s such good advice. And I guess for me, some people, some families don’t really know a lot about the history well, and one of the benefits of coming from a wealthy, well-known family…

 

Gary Schneeberger:

There’s books about it.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Exactly, there are books about it. So there is a book written in like 1941 about John Fairfax, my great-great-grandfather who died, so he died in the 1870s. So obviously I was born a long time after that and so I missed him. But I have a good sense of who he was. And while, as I’ve said a number of times, I haven’t really lived his business legacy. He was a good businessman. And those business genes I think died out over the years. My dad really wasn’t a business guy, so I don’t know whether those genes went, but they died out a long, long time ago I’m afraid.

We’re more newspaper reflective journalist types, if you will. But what I learned from him is he was, as I sometimes say in faith-based circles, he was the model of what it means to be a business person for Christ, in that sense. He was a good father, a good husband. His kids loved him. His wife loved him. He was a good employer. I mean, when he died, his employees said, “We have lost a valuable friend.” I mean, this is the 1800s. There was no work laws. There was no unions. You could pretty much do whatever you wanted to as an employer. And so he’s somebody that he just lived his values, his beliefs. I’m not sure he preached it, but he lived it. And so that sense of that role model of just being a good husband, a good father, to the best of my ability, to care for people around, to empathize in some ways in terms of his character, that’s definitely a part of what I value in life and the legacy that I want to leave.

And then with my father, yeah, my father wasn’t perfect. He was married three times. He certainly made his share of mistakes. As I say, who of us are perfect? Yet he had this sense of integrity doing the right thing no matter what. In 1976, when other family members threw him off as chairman, he could have tried to fight it by doing his own takeover or taking on the board in some sense for wrongful dismissal. And he analyzed a lot of these things. But at the end of the day he said, you know what? For the sake of me, because he saw me as sort of the next generation that would come after him, and the family members that took after him, for the sake of the company, he felt it was the right thing to do.

I think one more example, I talk about in the book, in the 1941 election, I think it was, a conservative, Robert Menzies was prime minister. He was a good friend of my dad and his then first wife, well they wrote an editorial saying Australia’s in World War II and he believed the Labor guy, John Curtin, was the best person to be prime minister. Well, Robert Menzies felt betrayed and he wouldn’t talk to him pretty much for the rest of his life. Well, he went on to be one of Australia’s longest service serving prime ministers in the late ’40s and ’50s. It’s not like his career was done, even though he was super successful and he never forgave that. So I guess from my dad, I’ve learned you do the right thing, being on two nonprofit boards as listeners know, being an elder at my church and my kids’ school board, even though I admire greatly the leaders of both organizations, I try to encourage but also try to ask tough questions, do the right thing no matter what. They may be friends, I may admire them. My job is to represent the congregation or the community.

So I’ve learned a lot from my great-great-grandfather John Fairfax and my father Sir Warwick Fairfax. So my own way, assimilating those legacies that they’ve given me, I want Crucible Leadership to be successful and Beyond the Crucible. It’s not about money or numbers of books being sold. It’s just trying to have an impact, be it big or small. I try to be, my kids are now older from 31 to 20s. I’ve always tried to be a present dad and be around them and with my wife. So yeah, I mean I try to live that legacy and hopefully, that’s having an effect on my kids’ humility is one of my highest values. So when I see my kids who we’re not poverty stricken by any means. We are very, if not extremely comfortable.

When I see them with, like my youngest son was looking to get a different car, I was like, yeah, he had a Hyundai Coupe. And it’s like, yeah, I think I’m going to get a used Mazda CX-5 small SUV. And it’s like he wasn’t saying, “Hey dad, can you help me get a new Ferrari or something?” And not only did he not ask for a new one, he got a fantastic deal. He found some dealer in Minnesota and he lives in Indiana. And so I can’t tell you that blesses me to no end, that I don’t have to preach to humility to him. He’s living it. So I mean, when you see concrete evidence of your kids living your values of humility and integrity, doing the right thing. So I feel like I’ve learned those points, those aspects of legacy from my dad and my great-great-grandfather. And when I see evidence as I see a lot of my kids living, not just my legacy, but their ancestors’ legacy. I mean, it blows me away. I mean, it fills me with talk about joy, immense joy and pride when I see that. Again, I’m not perfect. They’re not perfect. Who’s perfect? But when I see them living those legacies, it does fill me with joy and gratitude, immense joy and gratitude I have to say.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And I know this to be true, your son’s father, when he was in charge of John Fairfax Limited, drove a Honda to work.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Well, actually, that’s funny. I have driven Hondas in the U.S., there’s no question. Back then, this is funny. It’s pretty much the same thing. I drove a red Toyota Camry.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

Oh Camry, sorry.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

And that was kind of a bit of reverse snobbery in that I’ve always prided myself on being humble. That’s not an oxymoron. And so while the executives that I hired drove the Mercedes and Daimlers and whatever they were driving, I pull with my red Toyota Camry into the executive parking lot. And yeah, there was kind of humble. Part of me was like, look, I’m humble. Look at the car I’m driving. I’m not doing this Daimler, Mercedes. Look at me. I’m pretty humble. I’m pretty good, huh? I feel like I lose a few points for that one, but hey, I was young, but yeah, I prided myself on my humility, if that’s contradiction in terms, which kind of is a bit.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

No, if we’re grading on the curve, you’ll still come above the CD level. So that’s good. One of the places I wanted to go, so we’ve gone through all five points and I’ll wrap them up when we wrap up this episode. But one of the places I wanted to go just before we leave listeners, because a member of our team, Casey Helmick, who does the podcast, production, oversight, ideas for the show, when we were talking about doing this wrap up episode was like, “Well, it would be really interesting if you guys.”, this isn’t Casey’s voice, by the way. I don’t know why I’m changing my voice to sound like that. He doesn’t sound like that at all. Casey said, “It would be very interesting if you guys talked about what of those five guests that you talked to, what if anything, surprised you?” And I’ll go first because I mean, instantaneously this leaped to my mind as I pondered that question for half a second, and what surprised me, and it’s surprising that it surprised me because as I said, this is more than 140 episodes of this show.

We’ve heard a lot of stories of people who’ve been through some pretty traumatic crucibles. But when Jason Shechterle said, and you said it earlier, Warwick, and I almost was like, no, don’t say that, but all that was, it was a trailer for what I’m saying now. It was a preview. My surprise was Jason summing up his experience by saying, “I have gained everything and lost nothing.” Now if you’re only a listener to this show, based on what we’ve described, Warwick and I both think we’re pretty good with word pictures, but you don’t really know exactly, you can’t feel exactly what Jason has been through unless you see Jason say these things. So my encouragement to you is on our Facebook page, actually if you go to YouTube and search for Crucible Leadership, we have a YouTube page and there’s a video clip of Jason saying that very thing, “I’ve gained everything and lost nothing.”

Watch the video clip. Look at the man. You can see what he’s been through. We’ve told you what he’s been through. He tells you what he’s been through on the show, but you can see what he’s been through. And this is a man who said, “I’ve gained everything and I’ve lost nothing.” If I could live my life, that’s my challenge coming out of this series, Warwick, I want to live my life by that motto. I want to be the guy who says, “No matter what happens to me, I’ve gained everything and I’ve lost nothing.” That to me was the most profound, moving, challenging thing I’ve heard as the co-host of this show and certainly from this series. What was your surprise moment?

 

Warwick Fairfax:

Yeah, I mean just before we get to that, I mean what you just said, Gary is so true and so profound and when you see him and the video clips are certainly online as we speak on our social media, when you look at him, it’s like 56 surgeries. He is disfigured. He went through fourth degree burns. I mean that’s as much as you can go through. There is no more than fourth degree. The level of pain he went through, the fact that there are consequences, pain. He doesn’t want to scare kids at places. It limits where he can go. He’s lost, I think one or two fingers I think on one of his hands. I mean it’s been life changing physically, emotionally. So when he says, “I’ve gained everything.”, it’s like when you look at him as he says that. So I would encourage listeners go to us on LinkedIn and Facebook and look at those clips and ponder what Gary has said.

It’s just like, how in the world could anybody say that I’ve gained everything? It makes no sense in one sense, but it just shows the profound wisdom that he’s learned. So for me, a number of them, I think one of the guests that really stood out to me is Kayla Stoecklein, and as we mentioned, lost her husband Andrew to suicide in 2018. And just the sense of she really headed into the grief and sort of in my words, head into the storm. And I think this is amplified too by Marisa Renee Lee is sometimes people, and especially men, I think in our culture are told, suck it up. Get beyond your grief. If you’re a tough guy, a tough person, you can get beyond it. And that’s just not true. Whether it’s pain or grief, you’ve got to really head into it and experience it.

Not for the sake of wallowing, but the only way to get beyond grief if it’s even possible. The only way to get through grief is to head straight for it. The path to getting through grief is heading to grief, if you will. Again, it’s not wallowing forever. Yes, counseling, wisdom from friends, mentors, loved ones, that’s all important, but you can’t ignore your feelings. You’ve got to face them. And I think as we’ve found in our series and certainly on Beyond the Crucible, very often your purpose, your calling is found from the ashes of your crucible, from your pain. So there can be a blessing that comes out of grief, out of loss. As I mentioned, that is the case with me. A few years ago, even maybe six months ago, I don’t know that I would have said quite this. But I now view what I went through as a blessing. I never would have got out of John Fairfax because I felt like it was founded by a person of faith, my great-great-grandfather and by my dad. I would have felt like I was betraying my legacy, betraying my heritage. So I could never have left voluntarily. But maybe there was some divine force up there saying, “We’re going to free you one way or the other from your gilded cage. We’re going to get you out.” I don’t know if that’s true or not. I have no idea. But I sometimes wonder.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

I know someone who does think it’s true, Rabbi Steve Leder, do you remember? It was off air, but as we were saying goodbye to him, because he had a call that he had to go on. Right before he took that call, he said, “And losing that company was the best thing that ever happened to you.” He said that to you right there after spending an hour with you in conversation.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

So yeah, that’s a great point, Gary and Rabbi Steve Leder is right. It was a blessing that had happened. The best thing that ever happened to me? Maybe I’m still not quite there at saying the best thing, but it certainly was a blessing. Just my kids can grow up as normal kids. They never would have grown up that way in Australia, in the Fairfax sort of goldfish bowl in Sydney. It’s like being a Bush or a Rockefeller or a Kennedy. I mean it’s impossible. Everybody knows who you are. So yeah, head into the storm. Don’t ignore it. Feel your feelings and out of that, you might find a greater purpose that actually makes that loss a little easier to deal with. The pain doesn’t go away, but there are ways to make it easier to deal with by heading into the storm. It sounds counterintuitive. Again, we’re not advising people to head into hurricanes. This is a metaphor. Don’t take this too literally. Metaphor with a capital M.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

So that puts the plane on the ground for this episode of Beyond the Crucible as we wrap up our series Gaining from Loss. Let me review what we’ve gone through in our discussion. We’ve gone through five points, five, not two hands, Gary, just one hand. We’ve gone through five points of what our guests not only unpacked from their own stories, but offer to you, our listeners as a roadmap for you to follow, to move beyond your loss and to find gain in the wake of it. Point one, be patient. Point two, work to change what you cannot accept. Point three, understand there’s room for your pain on the other side of your loss. Point four, intentionally cultivate joy as you continue to grieve. And number five, live as a good ancestor to those who come after you. You pool all those together, and those become a roadmap to help you do what this series title that we were a little worried about at the beginning, but aren’t now, Gaining from Loss. You put those all together and what you get is gain from loss. Any final thoughts, Warwick? We’re already over time. What the heck? We can take another couple minutes if you have another thought before I close.

 

Warwick Fairfax:

I think one of the things we say here all the time, if you had to say, what is the thing that you most say on Beyond the Crucible and Crucible Leadership? It’s your worst day doesn’t have to define you. It’s probably one of, if not the most quoted phrases that we use. And so you may have suffered a loss, a horrific loss. You may be thinking about the holidays with grim trepidation, not hopeful anticipation. It might be like, oh my gosh, our holidays reminds me of everything I lost. I think of the so-called families that seem to have it all, the idyllic Thanksgiving, the idyllic Christmas and New Year, and we’re just a dysfunctional mess. Or even if we’re not, we’re just grieving the loss of our mother and father, brother, sister, son, daughter. That may be your reality.

I don’t diminish the pain. We acknowledge it, I acknowledge it. But what we want to get across is your worst day doesn’t have to define you. You don’t have to be defined by loss. Each of our five guests were not defined by the loss. They found a way to use that loss for a higher purpose in the case of Shelley Klingerman, to just not accept what happened. Find a way to use that devastating loss to honor her brother. So don’t let your worst day define you. And there is hope amongst the grief and the loss and the pain. So find your way through grief to live a joyful life on purpose. It’s possible to both to be grieving as we learned from Marisa Renee Lee, as well as have the joyful, purposeful life, which we believe at Crucible Leadership is a life of significance, a life on purpose, dedicated to serving others. You want joy and fulfillment in life. We believe it’s through leading a life of significance. So it is possible to get on the other side of grieving through loss, at least to a point where you’re able to carry on with life.

 

Gary Schneeberger:

And that is the last declarative words to be spoken on this episode. I’m going to ask before we go, listeners, I’m going to give you a question. Again, our blog on this subject is at crucibleleadership.com. And as we do with every blog, the ending of it are some questions for reflection for you as the reader of the blog. And here’s one of those questions for you to ponder as we say goodbye for this episode. And that is this, what are you doing now or what can you do today to cultivate joy, even as you grieve a loss, en route to creating it as a gain? What can you do today to cultivate joy? That’s the question for you to ponder. Until next time, we understand, we do. Hopefully, this episode proved it. We understand that your crucible experiences are painful. We understand that they are devastating. They are losses for sure.

But we also know from our own experience and from the experience of not just of these five guests that we had here, but the almost 100 guests that we’ve talked to on the show since it started and that’s this, your crucible experiences, your losses aren’t the end of your story. They can be, in fact the beginning of a new story. And that new story can be the greatest story, the greatest headline, and have the greatest ending than you’ve ever imagined. All you have to do is to not stay under the covers and to get up and put one foot, as Warwick says all the time, one small step, one small step, one small step, one small step. That will lead you in the end to the place that our guests often end up at. They talk about ending up there, and that is a life of significance.