The response to the interview with Alan Baxter was one of the all-time most read features in the university’s alumni magazine. Readers wanted to know more, especially how Alan Baxter guided others in finding their life’s purpose. He agreed to do another interview.
JG: Thanks for agreeing to chat with me again. This time I’d like to focus on what you do to help those who struggle with their life’s purpose. How did you get started?
AB: A number of years ago, I came back to campus for a weekend. I was visiting one of my favorite places, the campus arboretum. I came across a student who was seriously struggling, and we started to talk. All I did really was to ask him questions. At the end of our conversation, he asked me for my address and phone number. This was before email and cell phones.
I was surprised to hear from him a year later. He called and told me how much the conversation we had helped him figure out what he wanted to do with his life. I have to tell you that call helped me refine my own life journey. Maybe I could help others in a similar way.
JG: And then…?
AB: It’s funny how much you see when your eyes are open. Opportunities started opening up for me to help others. There were young students, really struggling. At my work, I started helping those who appeared to be in a crisis.
JG: When these situations came about, what did you do?
AB: I just asked questions. I’ve always been good at getting people to open up to me because of my shyness. I listen and talk very little. The more I did this, the better I got at asking the right questions.
JG: Did the people you help find their purpose?
AB: No, finding your purpose comes from a much more gradual process. What I did was to get them started on their purpose journey.
JG: I can only imagine how much time you must have spent doing this.
AB: It was time consuming, but that’s my life’s purpose. One thing I did, however, was to create a Purpose Network. Over the years, I’ve met people who share similar interests. I started involving them in helping others started their journey toward finding their life’s purpose.
JG: I’m surprised I’ve never heard about that.
AB: That’s intentional on my part. One of my values is giving anonymously. I know that’s old fashioned, but I’m really opposed to our praise junky culture. I just don’t find purpose and seeking praise as being compatible.
JG: How do you know if you have been successful?
AB: Obviously, there isn’t a measurement of success. The only thing I ask is that those we help, to share their stories. I have found those to be very inspiring. Some of those we have helped have now joined the Purpose Network and paying it forward.
JG: Once again, you really provided me with a lot to think about. Thanks.
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“Life is all about sharing. If we are good at something pass it on.” – Mary Berry (Writer)