A coaching colleage, Dr. Brad Swift, recently published a book based on the last 11 years of his life’s work called Life on Purpose: Six Passages to an Inspired Life. It piqued my interest since I talk to a lot of people who ask the question “Is there something more to life than my tired existence trudging to a cube and back for years on end, creating thousands of PowerPoint slides and feeling great personal success only when I clean out my email inbox?”
His book details his own dramatic journey going from outwardly “successful” but inwardly suicidal and depressed veterinarian to peaceful and contented coach, speaker and author. He shares the methodology he uses with his clients to help them identify and put into action their purpose for being on the earth.
Since Brad comes from a “purpose tied to spiritual life” perspective, this book will appeal to those who see the world in a similar way. As part of his blog book tour, I interviewed Brad about his work, and the content covered in the book:
Pam: There are some people, like me, who believe that each one of us on earth is
put here with a special and unique gift. Given the nature of your work, I
imagine you feel the same. What do you say to people who believe that life
is just random, and we figure things out as we go along?
Brad: It’s funny, I guess the law of attraction is at work here because I don’t generally have people of that nature in my sphere of influence. But if I did, I would first find out if they are open to considering other possibilities, because if they weren’t I wouldn’t “break my pick” on trying to convince them differently than they already believe. In my youth, I might have, but not anymore.
If they were open to considering other possibilities I would direct them to nature and biology, which are two of the places I find plenty of evidence for the design and designer of the Universe.
Everything from the inner workings of our own bodies, to the orderliness of the stars, and everything in between. I truly believe that an authentic exploration in these areas will lead most people to the one inescapable conclusion. We are an integral part of a much larger plan designed by a Grand Planner.
As Einstein once said:
“We are in the position of a little child entering a huge library filled with books in many different languages. The child knows someone must have written those books. It does not know how. It does not understand the languages in which they are written. The child dimly suspects a mysterious order in the arrangement of the books but doesn’t know what it is. That, it seems to me, is the attitude of even the most intelligent human being toward God. We see a universe marvelously arranged and obeying certain laws, but only dimly understand these laws. Our limited minds cannot grasp the mysterious force that moves the constellations.”
Pam: What is the “Cliff Notes” version of the process you use to help people
identify their life’s purpose?
Brad: That would be the 6 Passages that make up the process which are:
- Preparing for the Journey Along the Purposeful Path
As with any challenging journey, it’s best to thoroughly prepare yourself for your travels along the Purposeful Path. This includes accurately determining where you are starting from and where you intend to end up, as well as knowing some of the obstacles that could possibly get in the way of completing the journey.
- Starting on the Purposeful Path with the Life on Purpose PerspectiveOf course, it makes sense to begin your journey on the path that will get you where you want to go most expediently. We’ll explore how most people have thought of a life purpose, which we call the Cultural Perspective, and how this can be a major detour away from your true purpose. We’ll then look in depth at the Life on Purpose Perspective that opens a door to a new world of purpose and possibility.
- Uncovering What Has Been Shaping Your Life: Your Inherited PurposeAnother key passage along the Purposeful Path is clearly identifying what has been shaping your life and keeping you from clarifying and living your true, Divinely Inspired Life Purpose. We call this the Inherited Purpose—a powerful force based in fear, lack, and a need to struggle to survive that shapes our lives much of the time, especially when we’re unclear about our true purpose. Many who have already traveled along the Purposeful Path feel that identifying their specific and unique Inherited Purpose is one of the most powerful, transforming parts of the process.
- Clarifying and Polishing Your True, Divinely Inspired PurposeAfter cleaning the slate by identifying and beginning to be responsible for your Inherited Purpose, the real fun begins as you go through a process called Priming Your Passion to clarify your true, Divinely Inspired life purpose. The process can be not only life affirming, but also life transforming. This completes Stage One, or the clarifying your life purpose stage.
- Learning the Tools for Living on PurposeThis is the start of Stage Two of the process, in which you begin to live true to your life purpose. It is where the rubber meets the road, and where some of the biggest transformations take place as you’re introduced to Sixteen Power Tools for Living on Purpose. You will use these tools to begin to build your Life on Purpose.
- Mastering the Tools for Living on PurposeOf course, being introduced to a set of tools is just the beginning—especially if you’re interested in building a masterpiece of a Life on Purpose. In this next part you will learn how to master the art and science of creating a life that is shaped by your true, Divinely Inspired Life Purpose.
Pam: Do we really only have ONE purpose in life, or can we have various,
depending on stages we go through, and what we learn from these stages?
Brad: This is a great question that really gets to the heart of the Life On Purpose Perspective and brings up a “Purposeful Paradox” — one of many we meet along the Purposeful Path. Since we have the power of choice, we have the power to create our life purpose – the context of our life powerful enough to shape each moment of every day. So, if we choose we can create a new purpose especially if the one that we’d previously created doesn’t inspire us any longer. That’s one side of this Purposeful Paradox. The other side is that for most people, if they really tap into and use the core ingredients of their life purpose – their unique vision for what’s possible, their unique set of core values, and the essence of who they are as a spiritual being — those ingredients will result in a long lasting and powerful life shaping force, thus making it unnecessary for most people to create more than one life purpose.
Pam: You touch on both the emotional and spiritual aspect of a life purpose. Is
the spiritual aspect critical? What about people who either don’t have a
clearly defined spiritual foundation or are skeptical of the term?
Brad: Well, I use a pretty broad definition of the term spiritual that I borrow from Jim Loehr & Tony Schwartz in their book, The Power of Full Engagement. “Spiritual: the connection to a deeply held set of values and to a purpose beyond our self-interest.” Now, for many people this includes the belief in a Higher Power, but it need not. I do feel that for us to live on purpose, we must have this connection to a deeply held set of values and to a purpose beyond us. In other words, our life purpose isn’t just about us, while also including us.
Pam: How does articulating your life purpose help define and develop your own business?
Brad: My business, Life On Purpose Institute, Inc. is what I term a “Meta-Purpose Project.” In other words, it’s a set of several different Purpose Projects all under the umbrella of a business structure. A Purpose Project is a set of activities one chooses to take on that has specific results that can be measured. What makes a Purpose Project unlike any other type of project or goal is that it must arise from and have as its foundation the person’s life purpose. So the primary purpose of a Purpose Project is so you can be, be known, and express your true life purpose. Life On Purpose Institute, Inc. has been one of the most fabulous ways I get to express my true purpose — to live an inspired and inspiring life of purposeful, passionate, and playful service; a life of mindful abundance balanced with simplicity; and a life of spiritual serenity. As a result, I’m living an “indescribably delicious” life — a life on purpose.
Good luck with your book tour Brad … I know that there are many people out there who will be positively impacted by your work.
Life is too short to be reactionary and miserable, I say.