The key to leading a life of significance, a life that helps others, and moving beyond a searing experience, a crucible moment, where you are forever changed, is to understand your design. We are all designed a certain way. If we look at those around us, our children, siblings, and our loved ones, we all come out of the box with our own wiring. We may be creative and artistic or love math and the sciences, or we may be adventurous and athletic. We all have certain aptitudes. If we are wise, we will understand our innate strengths and giftings, and build upon them.
You may have been through a crucible experience, a gut-wrenching, even humiliating experience. It may be a business or professional failure, or it may be a health or family challenge. Whatever it is, the course of your life has forever been changed. You have faced the fork in the road: whether to wallow in the pain of your crucible experience or to try to move beyond it. You have chosen to move ahead.
A crucible is a cauldron where metals are thrown together and heated to very high temperatures. The metals combine to form an alloy, something that is different than it was before. A crucible experience is one that is life-altering. Who you are after your crucible experience is different than you were before. You are never the same.
One of the most cautionary tales in recent corporate history is how Netflix embraced change and Blockbuster didn’t. As of 2018, Netflix, barely 20 years old, had a stock market value of nearly $165B, with 130 million subscribers in 200 countries. Blockbuster was out of business by then, having filed for bankruptcy in 2010 after incurring more than $1B in losses the previous year.
Change is not easy, which is a major challenge for us because we live in a world that is forever changing. Technology is changing. The market is changing. The culture is changing. Not only is everything around us changing, but it seems that change is happening at an ever-increasing rate.
Growing up in a 150-year-old family media business, my self-worth was inextricably tied to the family business and the family dynasty. I saw my role in life as carrying on the family business to the next generation, and to honor the legacy of my great-great-grandfather, John Fairfax, and my father, Sir Warwick Fairfax.
For many of us, our self-worth is tied to our job and career. If we are doing well at our job, we feel good about ourselves. But if we are not performing well at work, life might not look so good. This may seem normal, so what’s the problem? Isn’t this just life?
Leadership is hard. We may have a vision that we are trying to pursue, but for some reason it’s not happening. We feel stuck. We feel despondent. We don’t want to give up, but what else are we going to do? We might even think it’s time to quit.
One of the great stories of perseverance is the American Revolutionary War and George Washington’s dogged determination to not give in. It was in large part Washington’s commitment to the American cause of independence and his refusal to give up amidst overwhelming odds that was the key to the birth of the United States.
We have spoken of how inspiring a group of people with a shared vision is one of the hardest challenges in leadership. Growing your vision is not easy. Having your vision impact the world for generations is perhaps the ultimate goal for a visionary, but such a goal can feel like climbing Mount Everest. Impossible! However, Jesus did it. The key is to create a growing wave of ambassadors for your vision across continents and generations.