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Richard Leider

Richard Leider partnered with the Center for Spirituality and Healing to develop The Purpose Project, which helps people realize their meaning in life.

Powered by purpose

Center for Spirituality and Healing's new partnership

By Andrew Bacskai

From eNews, Dec. 14, 2006

The ranks of late-career Americans who plan to retire to porch swings and golf courses are thinning fast. No doubt, economic realities are keeping some would-be retirees in the workplace, but many simply don't want to retire ... not in the traditional sense.

Consider the findings of the 2005 "New Face of Work Survey," conducted by the MetLife Foundation and San Francisco-based think tank Civic Ventures. More than half the survey's respondents--baby boomers and prebaby boomers--said they want to pursue jobs and opportunities that will contribute to the greater good.

"The old models of retirement and elderhood really don't hold up any more," says Richard Leider, senior fellow with the University's Center for Spirituality and Healing (CSH). Leider is also the founder and chairman of The Inventure Group, a Minneapolis-based coaching and consulting firm whose foundational philosophy is based on the power of purpose. "We need new models, new maps, new language to talk about this, because people are living longer and they're living with greater vitality."

In fact, today's 65-year-old American can expect, on average, to live another 18 years. To help empower these retirement-resistant elders to make purposeful contributions, Leider was invited to join CSH to develop The Purpose Project, a program to help people in the second half of life discover and realize their unique purpose.

For many years the center used Leider's books, materials and ideas as the basis for much of its work, so joining forces with him was a natural outgrowth of this, says CSH director Mary Jo Kreitzer.

"Richard's work is so connected to the work of the center, because that's what spirituality is all about--exploring purpose and meaning and connectedness," says Kreitzer. "We know peoples' ability to find meaning in life is also very much related to health outcomes. So [The Purpose Project] is really about helping people live healthier lives."

The Purpose Project, launched two years ago, offers two types of programs. Working on Purpose is a one-day workshop, which is facilitated by Leider (and others) and is offered four times annually. It helps people align personal and professional passions with purposeful pursuits.

"We're teaching people a process--giving them the structure and the tools to ask the right questions and, hopefully, come up with some answers... some paths to follow," says Leider.

"We're teaching people a process--giving them the structure and the tools to ask the right questions and, hopefully, come up with some answers or some trajectories, some paths to follow," says Leider, who's authored seven books, including the recently released Claiming Your Place at the Fire: Living the Second Half of Your Life on Purpose.

The Purpose Project Guild, in turn, is a training program for life coaches and others who want to facilitate Working on Purpose workshops. "It's basically like the old craftsmen's guild," Leider says. "So people who are in this field and want to add the purpose dimension to their work can do so."

Jane Woolley, who calls herself an independent human capital consultant, is one of the 35 people who participated in the first Purpose Project Guild session in November. Woolley, 41, attended a Working on Purpose workshop last May. At the time, she was unhappily employed by a firm where she helped manage recruitment efforts. "I was at a juncture in my career and my life where I wanted to make a significant change, but wasn't exactly sure how to go about it," she explains. The workshop helped Woolley nail down what was truly important to her. She realized she wanted to stay in the same line of work, but to do it differently.

In part because of the workshop, Woolley left her job and is pursuing a master's degree in human development. She also started her own consulting practice, which will focus on helping small and midsized companies target and train the right talent, as well as helping people make career changes.

"I want to do work I love with people I enjoy--people who recognize how short life is and how much power we have to create the life we want," says Woolley. "I want to help other people do that as well."

For more information about The Purpose Project, visit the Center for Spirituality and Healing.