Crucible Moments

Barbara Fagan
3 min readMay 18, 2021

A crucible moment is a transformative experience through which an individual comes to a new or an altered sense of identity. Typically, it’s a painful experience that changes us. These experiences can give us direction and clarity and, in some cases, can change the direction of our life entirely.

Often, these moments come out of the blue. An unexpected loss of a loved one, a health challenge, a divorce, a natural disaster, or a job loss, for example. The pandemic has brought on crucible moments for many.

Ten days ago, a friend of mine had a tragic mountain bike accident. She is in the ICU with traumatic brain injury and has not regained consciousness. This is a crucible moment for her, her family, and her friends.

Her accident has me feeling deeply. Another reminder that we shouldn’t take our lives and our health for granted. Life is a balancing act between having an awareness of the fragility of life along with faith that there is some method to the madness of life, even if we don’t understand it, so we are able to enjoy it in the best of times and cope when we are challenged.

Our character is tested during times of adversity. Once out of the acute moment, if we take time to pause and reflect, we can tap into our strength. These are the moments that can move us to a new level of humility and wisdom.

Quote on calling upon our crucible moments to transcend limitations

In a Harvard Business Review article written by the authors of Geeks and Geezers, who interviewed more than 40 top leaders in business and the public sector, shared this about the power of crucible moments:

“We were surprised to find that all of them — young and old — were able to point to intense, often traumatic, always unplanned experiences that had transformed them and had become the sources of their distinctive leadership abilities…the crucible experience was a trial and a test, a point of deep self-reflection that forced them to question who they were and what mattered to them. It required them to examine their values, question their assumptions, hone their judgment. And, invariably, they emerged from the crucible stronger and more sure of themselves and their purpose — changed in some fundamental way.”

If we allow it, our crucible moments can mold us into something new — someone stronger, more compassionate, and more loving. We can either wallow in our misfortune or we can choose to use our pain to help others and lead a life of significance.

When we are in the center of a crucible moment, we are usually in survival mode. All we can focus on is what is right in front of us, making sure we are taking care of ourselves and our loved ones as best we can. It’s not until the storm has passed that we can reflect and transmute the experience into something useful for ourselves, those around us, and the world.

What are the crucible moments of your life, and how have they shaped you?

Wishing you peace,

Barbara Fagan-Smith
Chief Catalyst, Living ROI



Barbara Fagan

Founder and CEO of ROI Communication and the Chief Catalyst for Living ROI. She is committed to helping people and organizations bring their best to the world.