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“Follow your purpose.”

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We’ve all heard the mantra by now…

A non-discriminant, all-pervading cultural battlecry cemented to the psyche of anyone with an Instagram feed and burning desire to escape cubicle hell.

It’s a call to arms.

A raison d’etre.

A supposed right.

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More than just a pithy quote card sprinkled across social media…

It’s become a “way of life”  for a whole new generation of dreamers, changemakers, and lifestyle renegades refusing to fit into somebody else’s box.

Fair enough.

The movement clearly isn’t without merit.

But is “living your purpose” really the soul-stirring, fire burning, self-empowering credo we so ascribe it to be?

Or is it a wolf in sheep’s clothing?

That’s the question that transformational coach (and expression engineer) Ryan Schwartz challenges us with in his brand new treatise:

The 7 Principles of FullXpression


Schwartz argues that this seemingly innocent, empowering, chest-beating declaration is actually more caging than it is liberating.

And an open-eyed, empirical look beyond the quote card gloss, seems to support his claim.

“Live Your Purpose.”

The phrase alone presumes that you’re not already doing so.

As if there’s some mystical, fixed “thing” that you’ve yet to realize.

A birthright you’ve yet to claim.

And this supposed “shortcoming” or inner lack can actually make it more of a disempowering pursuit than an empowering one.

One laced with a persistent sense of “not-enoughness.”

Breeding a huge sense of insecurity for anyone who isn’t living their “purpose” in an obvious, culturally-affirming way.

And rest assured… like all consumer-driven fear and insecurity, “purpose insecurity” is one that corporations are more than willing to bank on.

Take a look at any bestseller list, and you’ll see that “Live Your Purpose” has spawned an entire industry of slick-haired gurus, self-help authors, and so-called coaches more than willing to capitalize on the insecurity it breeds.

But before we pull out the pitchforks, Schwartz doesn’t necessarily believe that there’s something nefarious at play.

Just a faulty paradigm and enduring mistruth.

And as explained more deeply in the 7 Principles of FullXpression, here’s why he believes “Live Your Purpose” is due for a makeover:

Purpose isn’t a “fixed” thing

When I was 6-year old, my purpose was to become a firefighter.

At 11, I wanted to play pro soccer. And today… well let’s just say my purpose consists of a dynamic, ever-expanding list of awesome.

So when Ryan affirms that purpose isn’t a fixed thing, but a transient spontaneous thrust (intermingled and inspired by present conditions)… it all of a sudden makes a ton of sense.

And realizing this simple truth is quite profound.

It instantly liberates us from this constant search for an elusive, fixed “purpose”…

… and gives us permission to stop carrying around the carcass of a “purpose” long dead.

It’s crazy how we’re so willing to do that as kids (living a new “purpose” in each moment).

Yet as adults, we feel obliged to stay loyal to a singular fixed “purposed,” as if rejecting it would make us a quitter or a non-committed flake.

But here’s where that becomes a REAL problem:

“When you cling to a false or expired purpose, you close your eyes to your true, authentic expression.”

Much of our inner-struggle comes not from “lack of purpose” but from our inability to authentically express the one knocking at our inner door.

Yet our typical remedy often consists of psychological sorbets to soothe the hunger for fulfillment, instead of a deep dive inwards to attune to the authentic expression the moment calls for.

It’s easy to do in times of crisis.

Last January, Ryan suddenly woke up paralyzed in his left side. In that moment, all the “purposes” he was living prior suddenly vanished and condensed into a single thrust of expression…

“Wiggle my left fucking toe.”

But in times of relative ease, our authentic expression is less obvious, and requires committed practice to reliably attune to it.

That practice is what Ryan calls “FullXpression.”

And LIVING it is what he deems to be the credo of the Real 1%.

So for anyone who’s ever felt pigeonholed by a purpose they’ve long outgrown, his take is shockingly liberating.

And liberation… freedom… (even from purpose itself)…

Isn’t that what we’re all after anyway?

Important Note*

The The 7 Principles of FullXpression is Schwartz’s timely attempt to initiate the next generation of leaders, changemakers, and “purpose” driven individuals into a healthier, more fulfilling, and more authentic pursuit of their expression.

This article covers just 1 of the 7 principles discussed in his brand new guide.

To see the other 6 long-standing paradigms he takes aim at (and beautifully reconstructs) – join his mailing list –  “The Real 1%.”

Img credit: JonathanPendleton

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