Crucibles

It’s Sunday, and I have about an hour left here at the library. I figured it would be a good time for roulette, yay! Today I found a book on our book sale cart that stood out to me so hard that I just had to use it for this purpose. It’s called Geeks & Geezers: How Era, Values, and Defining Moments Shape Leaders by Warren G. Bennis and Robert J. Thomas. Mind you the spine just said Geeks & Geezers and this is what caught my eye in the first place.

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Open up at random to page 98 and here’s the random paragraph:

The difference between fasting and starving

Crucibles vary in duration (and in anticipated duration), in harshness and in other ways. But there are two basic types: the ones you seek and the ones that find you. There is a world of difference between the two-the difference between jumping into an abyss and being pushed in, between fasting and starving, between emigration and exile. Some of our leaders had their crucibles forced upon them- Sidney Rittenberg’s sixteen-year imprisonment may be the cruelest example. The majority of our leaders chose their crucibles, although rarely with a full understanding of what the experience may bring. Some, such as Arthur Levitt Jr. became seekers of crucibles, constantly looking for the kind of challenges that would stretch them (Bennis & Thomas, 2002, p. 98).

Ok that’s kind of an interesting thought. Think about the things you seek out in life and also the things that just happen to find you. Which do you think are more powerful? I like the example of the idea of being pushed into an abyss vs. jumping. Sometimes in life we meet challenging people can be stuck with difficult attitudes and situations that we have no control over, but sometimes we CHOOSE that challenge. Why ? I don’t know, maybe because it makes us stronger people, better people, something along those lines. The idea of leadership itself has always intrigued me, the power to persuade, for good or evil, all of those things.

But what do they mean by crucible? Sadly I don’t know what that word even means. Just from the context I’m going to think some sort of event, or person, or action that brings about a situation that has to be solved or dealt with. I know that there is a play called the Crucible by Arthur Miller, but I have not the slightest clue what it’s about. Let’s define:

cru·ci·ble

ˈkro͞osəb(ə)l/

noun

noun: crucible; plural noun: crucibles

  1. a ceramic or metal container in which metals or other substances may be melted or subjected to very high temperatures.

“the crucible tipped and the mold filled with liquid metal”

  1. a situation of severe trial, or in which different elements interact, leading to the creation of something new.

“their relationship was forged in the crucible of war”

(from google.com)

I’m going to go with definition number 2. Wow that’s pretty powerful. Severe trial, many elements, something new. I like that a lot. It’s kind of inspiring isn’t it? To think that our trials make us new again. Sometimes in my job I get to sit with people and do more than research. Talk of articles about co-leadership and eBooks can often turn into hopes and dreams with a side of past turmoil, hurts and abuses. Working with people like we do often times we are able to really make a connection with somebody and be inspired by them. I met an adult student yesterday that told me a story of her youth, and her struggles, her cycles of emotional and physical abuse, and how she got where she is today. She was studying business, but really wanted to study psychology and work closely with children who need a place to turn and to help guide them. She wanted to be the somebody that she never had when she was a child. It was downright amazing and I wanted to cheer her on the best way I could. Dreams man, they are the best thing in the world. But you can see that the trials in your very own life, the fires, the pain, all of it just forges you ahead and can turn you into something bright shiny and new. It’s really never too late for that. Now you can take all of that, learn, teach and help others to leave this world in a much better state than how you found it. Oh my lord I’m inspiring the heck out of myself here and I have to stop before my brain explodes from over use of the word inspiration.

That’s the thought of the day then I suppose. Get out there and seek out a crucible, do it. You never know what can happen on the other side of it. Something new, something better?

 

Bennis, W. & Thomas, R. (2002). Geeks & Geezers: How Era, Values, and Defining Moments Shape Leaders.  Boston, Massachusettes; Harvard Business School Press.

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