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The Shaping Purpose Story

One man’s difficult transition clears a path for others.

Lorne Brett has been selling cars since 1969.

Over the years, he created a remarkably successful collection of car dealerships in Saint John, New Brunswick, Canada. He lived a comfortable life, flew his own airplane (TBM 700) and generally enjoyed the fruits of his labor. But when his son took over the family business, Brett found himself in an odd position.

“It became clear to me I wasn’t going to be needed in the car business,” Brett said.

And that was bitter sweet. It was nice to see his legacy continue, but the company’s change in leadership left Brett with virtually nothing to do. He’d been replaced.

He was, in fact, irrelevant That was a problem. He had no clue what he was going to do with the rest of his life.

As an avid Pilot, Brett shared his dilemma with fellow aviators and found immediate kinship. He was clearly not alone. Many of his pilot friends confessed a similar conundrum.

They’d found themselves in the same boat with no plan for where they were headed next “How many pilots would take off without a flight plan?” Brett asked. So why would anyone want to run their lives without a “life plan”? From that initial question, he co-created a company called Shaping Purpose.

“It became the solution to me for a stage in my life that was quite uncomfortable,” Brett said.

Shaping Purpose is a program designed to give people of any age the tools to create a personal life plan that delivers tangible results.

“Everybody has his or her own purpose and expectations of what is really going to be fun for the next stage of life. That’s what Shaping Purpose is about – developing that process, developing that clarity to get to the end goal of ‘wow!’ I really enjoy what I’m doing now.”

Remember that old adage about an idea whose time has come? Shaping Purpose quickly discovered the “lost without a life plan” condition was more ubiquitous than they’d ever imagined. It wasn’t just retirees who were interested, but the military, first responders, even college students. A psychiatrist and a psychologist were intrigued enough by the work to join the effort and, in a relatively short period of time, Shaping Purpose was on the radar.

From Lost to Leader

Shaping Purpose Veteran’s Edition

One of its first success stories was a retired captain from the Canadian military. During a deployment to Afghanistan, Andrew a car bomb exploded in front of his vehicle which caused injuries that resulted in his release from the military. He was 33 years old. He was devastated, and he had no idea what to do with the rest of his life.

Enter Shaping Purpose. The Andrew exited the program with a real plan about what to do and is now excelling in life. He’s also become an ambassador and facilitator for Shaping Purpose Veteran’s Edition. Following his success from his participation in a Shaping Purpose program he went back to the Canadian Armed Forces and shared his success and enthusiasm for the program. The result? Ongoing research into making Shaping Purpose the transitional program for transitioning veterans.

In short order Shaping Purpose received Research Ethics Board approval from a Canadian Provincial Health authority and support from the New Brunswick Health Research Foundation to conduct a large scale study on the efficacy of the Shaping Purpose program and to develop a better understanding of the transition process to inform government of the actual struggles soldiers face.

More recently, Shaping Purpose has been awarded a research grant from Veterans Affairs Canada to continue our work making military transitions successful for Canada’s veterans.

Reaching More People Online

“Shaping Purpose is now my life plan. This is my purpose,” Brett said with a smile. And he has a tiger by the tail. Four-day seminars are scheduled throughout the year in multiple locations. And, the Shaping Purpose Veteran’s Edition is now available online in a special micro-learning format—the 24-Day Challenge—bringing significant clarity to the lives of the world’s transitioning veterans.

“Creating a life plan is one of those conversations we typically put off,” Brett said.

“But when you don’t know what your purpose in life is, you become paralyzed and unhappy.”

This is not just true for the retiree but even teen-agers transitioning to adulthood find themselves with no plan on what they’re going to do next.

Shaping Purpose allows people to learn how to build their own life plans and understand their purpose. And the bi-product is happiness.