Our lives are filled with crucible moments. Situations that shape and mold who we become as people, workers, managers, and leaders. These moments, whether we face them in our personal lives, or professional life, shape the core of who we become. They inform, and direct our future beliefs, habits, and behaviors. They can strengthen or weaken, improve, or deteriorate.
Most of these moments are unplanned. They sneak up on us and force our hand. They force us to buckle, retreat, or forge ahead. These moments-in-time, although difficult to persevere, help strengthen our constitution…or weaken us. The choice really is our own. How we react to adversity is in fact a choice. Famous, U.S. Men’s Hockey Coach, Herb Brooks, said, “Great moments are born from great opportunities”. First let me say I have great admiration for Herb Brooks and his legacy. That said, if I may be so bold, I’d make a minor change to his quote and add that great moments are born from either a great opportunity, or adversity. After all, it’s friction that creates the most beautiful, and valuable diamonds in the world. The same can be said about our greatest leaders – past, present, and future. While not always pretty, the world’s great leaders have experienced their share of friction, adversity, and disappointment. From Washington to Reagan, from Henry Ford to Steve Jobs, from Sam Walton to Elon Musk, each of these leaders experienced their share of hardships and challenges…crucible moments that shaped their views, perspectives, ideas, and leadership styles.
Spend some time taking inventory of your crucible moments. I was first exposed to the concept of life journey lines when working for Lorrie Norrington who at the time was the EVP with Intuit in the early 2000’s. In fact, Journey Mapping is still very much a part of Intuit’s culture. Looking back, Lorrie is still one of the most influential leaders in my career. She taught me the importance of quantifying my capabilities and having the confidence to embrace them and act. Creating a life journey line is an effective way to identify one’s crucible moments, and more importantly understand how those moments shaped us and the new skills and capabilities we acquired because of those moments. Taking the time to think about these critical moments in life helps to provide clarity on your capabilities. Steve Jobs famously said, “You can’t connect the dots looking forward, you can only connect them looking backward.” That’s not to say, or suggest, we should live in the past, but rather to understand our ability to endure, preserve, learn, adjust, and succeed.
What are your crucible moments? How did they shape you? What changes did you endure? Positive or negative?
Every person we encounter on a day-to-day basis has gone through, or is currently going through, a crucible moment. Our ability to empathize is critical. How we assess these moments, and learn to adjust and adapt, based on this new knowledge and experience, is what enables our future success…and the success of the teams we lead.