Crucible - a place or situation in which concentrated forces interact to cause or influence change or development.
In the midst of #COVID-19 and social distancing, I find this word formidably timely.
I used to think those unexpected moments in life were nothing more than a time to say, “sh*t happens!”
However, when we broaden our perspective and spend time looking back at those moments, we realize they happen for us and not to us.
I’ll repeat that: They happen for us, not to us.
We all have crucible moments.
A crucible moment is a transformative experience through which we come to a new or altered sense of identity. These are times when our character is tested. These are times of adversity where great strength is shown.
Those who go on to be great are those who take time to pause and reflect on these moments. These are the moments that make us the leader we’re going to be, the parent we’re going to be, the person we’re going to be.
A short story of a crucible moment
Harry Truman never thought of himself as a leader. He mostly stayed home, working the farm, reading or playing the piano. Friends thought he was a sissy. After high school graduation, he remained on the farm and was the only president of the 20th century who never went to college.
But his life was soon to change forever.
He signed up for the army in WWI and was shipped off to France as the head of an artillery battery. For the first time, in the midst of war, he was forced to lead. His initial test came on a rainy night when the Germans dropped an artillery barrage close by. Harry’s troops panicked and fled. In the frenzy, Truman’s horse fell over on him and he was nearly crushed. The sight of his men fleeing filled him with strength. He pushed his way out from under the horse and screamed for his men to finish the job they were supposed to do. Suddenly, they stopped in their tracks, and returned, regrouping, then moving forward under Truman’s leadership. For the rest of their life, those men were loyal to Harry Truman, their leader who refused to back down in the face of his own fear.
This was a crucible for Harry Truman. It taught him as much about his character.
He discovered two vitally important things.
that he had courage inside
that he was good at leading people. He hadn’t recognized these truths until that very moment.
Move to action.
The most important moment in that story, is that Truman put himself in a position to face a crucible moment.
There are a million different decisions we can make in our life. Choices to do nothing. Choices to flee. Choices to fight and slay our dragon.
Are your decisions putting you in the middle of the fight?
Are you running scared? Or are you standing still and doing nothing at all?
Reflecting on these moments isn’t about sitting down with a journal and sipping tea. When we look deeply into how crucible moments affected us, it’s an adventure. We’re reliving some tough moments. However, we learn more about who we are. We learn about our character, what angers us, and what moves us.
Crucible moments will define and redefine - who we are.
We’re all trying to figure this out every day. What’s our identity, our meaning? Without taking the plunge into battle, we’re sure to turn up empty-handed, with no answers.
Our life is scattered with crucible moments.
A pandemic virus
Losing a job.
Losing everything and having to accept love and support from others.
Losing a loved one.
Facing prejudice and judgement.
Failing miserably in a new adventure.
Someone could face several of these in a lifetime, or even in a year. It’s how we view and use these crucible moments that matters.
Do we use these moments to gain a clearer sense of our character and capabilities? Or, do we write them off as another sad story we can share with our friends?
These moments define us. But, it’s only possible to experience a crucible moment when we get off the couch and move into action.
“The skills required to conquer adversity and emerge stronger and more committed than ever are the same ones that make for extraordinary leaders” — Warren Bennis
Find your crucible. Take a moment to reflect on the crucible moments you’ve faced in your life.
I did this and found an immediate shift in my mindset. We too quickly let these memories escape us. But these are experiences to hold onto. They may be painful in memory, but the outcome is most likely beautiful and significant.
Have you put yourself far enough out there to face crucible moments, to test your character, to learn about yourself, to grow?
“If I had not been in prison, I would not have been able to achieve the most difficult task in my life, and that is changing yourself.” — Nelson Mandela
To Your Success with love,
Lee Pryke, Spiritual Life Coach