Skip to main content

2 Crucible Hacks to Help You Turn Broken Into Breakthrough

Gary Schneeberger

July 20, 2023

We are in the midst of our special summer podcast series, Crucible Hacks, in which we’re taking nine weeks to unpack ways to make bouncing back from a crucible simpler (there’s a 10th episode that’s not about hacks but about giving you insight into how to apply the hacks). We’re spotlighting the best practices listeners can undertake at each step of the journey from tragedy to triumph, guiding them along the path of what we call the Beyond the Crucible Refining Process.

The hacks we’re talking about aren’t quick fixes, but rather ideas and inspiration to help them move from “This happened TO me” to “This happened FOR me” In the end, our hope is to give them a roadmap drawn with 19 hacks that will help them chart their unique course to a life of significance.

Already, Warwick and I have discovered something pretty interesting in recording the shows. As we do for every episode of Beyond the Crucible, we prepare by sketching out broadly the ground we want to cover. But we’re discovering once we hit “record” that fresh ideas bubble up. That’s an immense encouragement to us because even though we’re the guys offering the hacks, we’re learning and sharing new things. It’s always a good sign when the people who are hoping to teach you something learn something themselves.

Case in point: our discussion about hacks to help listeners understand how they were refined by their crucible.

The first one was called “Face the Demons.” 

It focused on exhorting listeners to think about and write down the worst thing about their crucible. What hurt most? Knocked them down or set them back most? In what ways did it hurt them?

Most importantly, we asked, “How can you reframe the experience?” If it was the loss of a job, what new opportunities has it opened up? If it’s a terrible tragedy like the death of a loved one, dig deeply into the ways in which that individual blessed your life. As we were discussing these points, another thought came to us: Facing the demons is only half the battle. Here’s what I said on the show:

“I just realized maybe a better way to frame this hack is ‘face the demons and make them angels.’ Face these terrible things that happened, these things that really knocked you for a loop, but put a different face on them. Take the horns off and put the wings on.”

That wasn’t just me monologuing. It was a summation of what we’ve learned from the vast majority of the 100-plus guests we’ve had on the show – Warwick included. Crucibles, we’ve heard time and time again, provide the seeds for people being able to say their crucible was a gift. It’s what they learn in this refinement stage, what they glean from the demons they’ve made angels, that helps them get to that place where tragedy takes a big step toward triumph.

Our second hack in the “Refined” episode was what I dubbed The 3×5 Card. 

It was an attempt at being clever, not referring to the size of the card, per se, but what we urged listeners to write on it. As I envisioned it, we wanted them to jot down 3 to 5 things they learned about themselves from their crucible experience. To write a short letter expressing thanks for those lessons. And, maybe the most important part, not to keep it to themselves. That’s because, time has taught us, overcoming crucibles is a team sport; so we encouraged them to share their learnings with their spouse, a close friend, a mentor, anyone they trust who knows them well and has an interest in seeing them move beyond their worst day

Warwick liked that idea, but he had an even better one. Here’s what he said during the show:

“Once you write down those learnings, consider flipping that 3×5 card over and writing down a few blessings — three to five blessings — that have come out of your crucible. That might seem like an obnoxious question, but I’d say pretty much every guest we’ve had could do this exercise. They could write down three to five learnings, and they could write down three to five blessings.

“And this isn’t just, ‘I’m going through an exercise,’ ” he added. “They profoundly believe in those blessings.”

What we realized, after laying out that second hack, was that such reflection can be transformational. The card that results can be something kept on their desk that they refer to to remind themselves of what they learned,  where they’re going and why they feel blessed by what started out as only painful. Instant encouragement and insight. Balm for their spirit and soul.

As this blog is published, we are not yet halfway through our Crucible Hacks series. If you haven’t yet checked it out, we encourage you to visit and give it a listen. Each episode is about 30 minutes — an intentionally breezier listen than our traditional interview shows, a nod to the busyness of summer that grips us all.

We hope you enjoy what you hear and, more importantly, are inspired and equipped by it.


  • Try the “Face Your Demons and Make Them Angels” hack. In what ways does completing the exercise give you hope regarding your crucible?
  • Try the “3×5 Card” hack. What did you list as a learning that really surprised you?
  • What did you list as a blessing that surprised you?

Listen to our Beyond the Crucible Podcast Series: Crucible Hacks! Tune in each week and play along with our bonus worksheet to win a signed copy of the bestselling book, Crucible Leadership, Embrace Your Trials To Lead A Life Of Significance.*

  • Tune in to listen to our summer series here.
  • Play along by downloading our worksheet here.
  • *The first 25 individuals to successfully complete and submit the worksheet will be rewarded with an autographed copy of the bestselling book, Crucible Leadership, Embrace Your Trials To Lead A Life Of Significance. Submission instructions can be found on the back of the worksheet.