Tuesday, June 26, 2007

Life on Purpose - a workshop packed in a book

Dr. Brad Swift’s new book Life on Purpose: Six Passages to an Inspired Life is an uneasy book: its uncannily simple words find little resistance in reaching to the core of our hearts, finding fear and “off-purpose patterns” in the DNA of our habits, and eliciting them out for our information and action. Uneasy process, indeed – but what a relief!

I admit that after the brief while of being delighted at receiving a new book about a subject of interest to me – I felt suspicion. Do I need to read this book? Can a book tell me what my life purpose is? Excuse me, but I can find out for myself!

So with a tinge of grudge, and much of “all right, let’s see what it has to say” and then some genuine curiosity that I mustered – I opened Life on Purpose and read on. I love stories. To find Dr. Brad Swift’s own story – and a humbling one with no miracle claims – restored my confidence in the book.What displease me are books that promise unlimited power. Miraculous claims of mastery over other people, claiming unending wealth and a beach house, and a life apparently free of the joy of pain – what a turn off! I believe, indeed, in a much more greater power in humans than most such books claim, but what I never like is the way this power is directed towards unashamed self-interest, and killing everything in “the path” to reach riches.

It is “Purpose,” indeed, that is the raison d’ĂȘtre of possessing power. Without a purpose based on service, power is a dangerous tool. The humble, reasonable, real-life story of Life on Purpose kept me reading on because I felt it was not about aimless amassing of power. Its message was centered on purpose, and living it – not finding it in the labyrinths of Destiny nor slash-buckling it through our lives.

But I did not immediately surrender to the book. I skipped the exercises, which Dr. Brad Swift strongly recommended as the core of the book. I thought “I don’t need this, I’ve always mastered quizzes and tests and such stuff easily. I am beyond that now.”

That is when a voice spoke very clearly inside me. It told me that when we feel uneasy with something, then the reason resides in us, not that thing. Indeed when we truly master over something, it does not “bother” us at all – we are only “for” what we create, and “against” anything in the path. Bring bothered, though, is the signal of a block.

Yet again I tried to counter with “I am feeling that way because this book is so simple – and I am into more ‘advanced’ reading.” But I couldn’t hold this argument for two minutes, for I have learned after much learning that the greatest wisdom lies in utterly simple things. That they are timeless, and boundary-less. And that a reservation about something simple and straight means that we have twisted ourselves too tightly around scripted adulthood, fact-riddled intellectualism, and contradictions of thoughts, words, actions.

Life on Purpose creates the best alternative to a coaching relationship with the reader through structured assignments. And the role of the seeker is assumed by the reader by undertaking these step-by-step exercises. I figured that I am avoiding these assignments to avoid the relationship – and that it was indeed because I was afraid of becoming smaller, of discovering uneasy truths.

So I decided to put pencil to paper. I undertook the Wheel of Life exercise to uncover some shocking truths – truths that I knew at an internal level, but which now were represented by a diagram that showed me clearly what was unbalancing my priorities. I could see where I need to pay my attention, and what I need to do less of. A simple thing, but it has prompted me to take immediate actions about my life.

Reading on, the book affirmed that I was challenged with some typical roadblocks to clarifying one’s purpose.

I live in Pakistan – a society transitioning between the contemporary and the old. Our older living generations admit that their elders had a world-wisdom about them, despite their limited technological know-how or travel. That wisdom was somehow lost in transition, and the Pakistan society has become rigid with unchanging ideas with plenty of reference to authority, rejected by the young. “Inherited Purpose” – a script handed down to one by the family and society – is a common cultural ailment in our neck of the woods.

As a teacher of Entrepreneurship for graduate classes, I was astounded to find that most students in a session looked dazed when asked the simple question: “What three things do you love/enjoy?” A few managed to give answers such as music, but most were surprised themselves that they couldn’t recall what they loved or enjoyed doing even as children!

After counseling many who said they “could not do it,” I have been put off-balance to realize that I have absorbed this very thinking. It could, indeed, happen to any of us!

Since then, I have surrendered to the wisdom of this uneasy book. I still feel I am smarter, that I know-it-all, but I also know that this is the very “full cup syndrome” warned about in the book.

I am not yet through with Life on Purpose. It’s a book that I will take my time with – doing all exercises, clarifying my vision, reclaiming my purpose that I once knew clearly but have been avoiding, affected by the “know-it-all”, “deserve nothing”, and “I must not be successful” syndromes.

A very gentle read, helpful in tone, and never cried from the pulpit – Life on Purpose: Six Passages to an Inspired Life is a book that can help you on the path to discover and live your purpose. There is no purpose suggested by the book – no lecture given. It is simply a process – composed of “six passages” towards one’s own Divinely Inspired purpose.


A special thanks to Carol Arnold for inviting me to review the blog, and to Dr. Brad Swift and Carol for sending me the book.

Read more: The Life on Purpose blog

Tuesday, June 19, 2007

My grief

D has died. He wanted affection in his last days. I.... (sigh!) wasn't around much. But a much more caring soul, my father, took care of him. D reminds me that I still must learn to liberate the love inside me, and focus the force of my love on what matters most.


"Most people have the will to win, few have the will to prepare to win."
- Bobby Knight

My Gmail account keeps on throwing up not only the most relevant (but of course) quotes on the RSS, but also very poignant. This one landed close to heart-home.