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A Life of Significance Must be Anchored in Your Design

Warwick Fairfax

June 12, 2018

Discovering Your Design

A crucible experience is often searing. The loss of a job or business, a health or family challenge can make us feel like our world has changed forever. We can feel like our lives are over.  But a crucible experience can reveal seeds of hope. Out of our pain, can come a vision to help others. In our misfortune, there may be clues as to how we are designed. Sometimes the reason a job or business did not work out was because we were not doing what we were designed for. Perhaps we were a round peg in a square hole. We didn’t fit.

Even if the crucible experience was not your fault such as with a health challenge or losing a parent at a young age, it will still tend to impact us to our core. We ask what life is all about? Why am I here? What is my purpose? Perhaps even, what was I designed to do?

You Have Unique Wiring

Our purpose, our place in the world is inextricably linked to how we were designed. We all come out of the box a certain way with certain innate gifts. We maybe artistic or athletic.  We may have a gifting for math and science or english and history. Our innate gifts can be nurtured and influenced over time, but there is some unique wiring we start out with.

Overlaid on our innate gifting, are our passions, values and beliefs. This may be influenced by our family, our childhood experiences, our culture or experiences we have along the way.

A crucible experience can force us to look at who we are.  But we can’t figure out where we are going, until we know who we are. A life of significance must be based on who we are.

A life of significance that is tied to our innate gifting, overlaid with our passions, values and beliefs is like rocket fuel. Being more truly us with a vision that flows out of the core of who we are, can give us unstoppable motivation and momentum. But a vision, however noble, that is not tied to who we are, what we believe in and what we are passionate about will tend to go nowhere.

You Can’t Inherit a Vision

In a sense that is my story.  I had a vision of restoring the family media company I grew up in Australia to the ideals of the founder. I wanted it to be well run. That was a compelling vision, one that I thought was a noble, even honorable vision. But was this my vision? It was more my father’s vision, and ultimately John Fairfax’s vision (my great great grandfather who started the family business). One thing I have learnt is that you can’t inherit a vision.

What was needed to accomplish the vision, was a take charge leader. That was not me. I am more of a reflective adviser. I like to be part of a team, such as being a member of the boards I am on. I like to write and to advocate for principles I believe in. But a take charge leader, making hundreds of decisions every day, hiring and firing. That is not me. I am more of a contemplative person than an action person.

All this to say, I was pursuing a vision, however noble, that was more my father’s and my great great grandfather’s vision than mine. To bring about the vision required skills and aptitude that were not me. I was not designed for the task that needed to be done.

What I do now lines up so much better. I am an advocate for principles of leadership that I strongly believe in, as well as a reflective adviser, writer and executive coach.


What are the clues in your crucible experience revealing about how you are designed?

What are your passions, values and beliefs?

Who are you really?

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