Bruce Sheridan’s new book helps young people identify their values, plan for the future, and live life with purpose.
Bruce Sheridan has enjoyed some of life’s richest rewards. He loves being a family man with a wife and four boys. He built a fulfilling career for himself first as an industrial engineer, then as a business coach. He’s been mindful to “give back” by serving his church community and coaching young adults. He’s spent his adult years purposefully nurturing the most important aspects of his personal and professional life.
Bruce cherishes this rich life all the more because he came close to throwing it all away as a young man.
Four decades ago, at age 25, Bruce’s life looked nothing like it does now. He was abusing alcohol and cocaine. He was unsure of his future. Building a life of purpose seemed beyond his grasp. Bruce was afraid he would end up either in jail, or dead.
One night, he hit rock bottom. Drunk and high on cocaine, Bruce realized he would not be able to work the next morning. This was a first; throughout his time of substance abuse, he had never missed work because of it. He contemplated calling in “sick,” but felt ashamed at having to lie.
Broken and unsure what to do, Bruce fell to his knees and prayed, hoping God was listening.
“God, do whatever you have to do to save me,” he prayed.
That prayer set the stage for Bruce’s transformation into the man he is today. Little did he know at the time that he’d eventually write a book about what he learned from this transformation.
Even after 40 years, Bruce is still amazed at how God answered his simple prayer.
After Bruce’s breakdown, he went to a friend’s apartment, anguished about what his next move in life should be. He burst in to discover his friend asleep and a young woman cooking breakfast. This stranger engaged Bruce in conversation and, when he revealed his troubles to her, she led him in a prayer asking Jesus into his heart. Bruce felt a small beam of light penetrate the darkness he was lost in.
He would never see the young woman again, but God’s intervention continued. A few months later, a court date for a DUI swung unexpectedly in Bruce’s favor. He was off the hook; the offense would not even go on his permanent record. Leaving the courthouse, he thought back on his plea to God and realized that God was offering him a second chance to make a good life.
As Bruce immersed himself in his faith, he learned a new way of living. He decided to prioritize God first, family second, and work third. This approach yielded great rewards. Bruce and his wife raised a loving family and he eventually made a career of coaching corporations through new strategy implementations. He taught his clients the same steps he’d used to change his own life: identify where you want to go, write it down, track your progress, and reevaluate every 90 days.
Many happy years passed for Bruce and his family. It wasn’t until his sons were grown that Bruce ever had the idea to share everything he’d learned with a wider audience.
“My Friends Would Benefit From This, Too”
The seeds of a book idea were planted around the time that Bruce’s eldest son graduated from college. His son couldn’t find a job at first. Discouraged, he confessed to Bruce that he wasn’t even sure what kind of career to pursue.
Bruce sat down with his son to help him think through future plans. The pair spent four hours creating a digital spreadsheet that analyzed the three important life elements Bruce had long ago identified: God, family, and career. Bruce had the privilege of sharing with his adult child how to think deeply about these important dimensions of life.
When they were done, they both felt they’d built a valuable roadmap for the future.
“Dad, this was so amazing,” his son said. “Thank you so much. My friends would benefit from this, too.”
That statement made an impression on Bruce. He knew from experience how hard it had been to plan for the future as a young adult, how easily a directionless attitude could set in. If someone had led the conversation with Bruce that he’d just led with his son, it might have spared Bruce some of the pain and destruction of his early 20s.
Bruce began to consider how he might share his knowledge with more young people.
A Book Idea Is Planted
That was seven years ago. Bruce began coaching young adults on how to plan and prioritize for a good life, and estimates that he has coached 40 individuals within that timeframe. He founded Life Compass, a 501c3 coaching service, in order to train others in his coaching methodology and help more young people. Bruce hopes to make Life Compass coaches available wherever their services are needed—at colleges, prisons, churches, high schools, and other organizations that serve young men and women in their first years of independence.
It wasn’t until Bruce met The Book Professor® founder Nancy Erickson at a networking event that he seriously considered turning his hard-won wisdom and coaching material into a book. At the event, Nancy explained that she worked with aspiring authors to write books that will help others in some way.
The idea stuck in Bruce’s mind long after the event came to a close. Helping others was his entire goal with Life Compass. Maybe a book could help him reach more people.
But he definitely needed The Book Professor’s help.
“If I had just said to myself, ‘I want to write a book!’ I would have never finished it,” Bruce says. His own enthusiasm wasn’t enough. He needed external guidance and accountability to get him through the demands of the writing process. He decided to give The Book Professor® a try.
Building the Foundation
It wasn’t long before Bruce realized how much about the writing process he didn’t know. The Book Professor® curriculum requires aspiring authors to spend the first few weeks in preparation, honing in on their target audience and clarifying their book’s purpose.
“The Book Professor® spends weeks building that framework,” he says. “If I wrote on my own, that would have never happened.”
This early work served as the foundation for the book in that it helped Bruce collect and sort all the ideas he wanted to include. As a result, he started the draft writing process with a map of where he was going.
Titled A Well-Launched Life: How Young People Can Live an Intentional, Fulfilling Life, the book was intended to help young adults think through what they value and pursue it rather than just drifting through their 20s. With this clear intention in mind, Bruce was ready to actually compose the prose.
“You have to work at it,” Bruce says of book writing. “It’s not going to write itself.” Keeping up with drafting was the most challenging part for Bruce, because it required regular time commitment around his existing family and work obligations. It was all worth it, Bruce says, but would have been much harder to actually complete if he hadn’t had The Book Professor® holding him accountable, cheering him on, and showing him how to break the process into manageable chunks.
Bruce found writing to be an intense process for other reasons, too. In addition to sharing knowledge about how to plan for the future, Bruce was also telling the story of his own young years. Some of the anecdotes he shared triggered deep emotion. Some brought him to tears as he wrote.
With The Book Professor’s help, he plowed on, chapter by chapter, until he had a finished first of A Well-Launched Life.
Bruce found that seemingly small details in writing make a big difference in the quality of the end product. Never before had he thought about hunting for over-used words, reading aloud for clarity, strategizing the use of adjectives and adverbs, or using the five senses to immerse readers in a scene. These were all valuable lessons he gained from Nancy’s curriculum.
Bruce meticulously crafted the scene of his conversion prayer with the young woman—the smell of the bacon and eggs she was cooking, Bruce’s friend slumping out of bed with a cigerette dangling from his mouth, and all the other little details that turn a narrated event into a scene. Because this was such a pivotal moment in his life, it was important to Bruce to make it seem tangible to the reader.
Nancy’s coaching and attention to these details helped Bruce to write the best book he possibly could. She also helped him tighten the book by cutting out any unnecessary information and only leaving the vital and the interesting for readers to enjoy.
“She took my book to a new level,” Bruce says.
A Well-Launched Book
When A Well-Launched Life released in March 2022, Bruce was grateful to those who helped him accomplish it. He plans to use the book as one of the coaching materials for Life Compass. He also hopes it will get into the hands of the readers who need it as he begins to speak at area churches, colleges, and Christian colleges. Bruce isn’t interested in making money from the book, but in spreading knowledge; all proceeds will go to the Life Compass organization.
He’s also excited about his next project: creating a companion workbook for A Well-Launched Life. The workbook will provide questions for each chapter to help readers dive deeper in applying the material to their own circumstances, whether studying the book on their own or in a group.
Share Your Hard-Won Wisdom
Bruce knows he’d never have made it this far without the guidance of The Book Professor®
“If you’re serious about wanting to write a book to help other people, doing it yourself versus doing it with The Book Professor® is like the difference between night and day,” he says. “I would never have written such a good book, and I would never have finished it.”
Do you have hard-won wisdom that others need? Maybe you coach others in your area of expertise and could reach more people faster with a book. Bruce’s story proves that even those who have never written a full-length manuscript before can compose a stellar product when working with The Book Professor®. Contact us today to see how we can help!