Home > Leadership, The Monday Musings Column > Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.

Destiny is no matter of chance. It is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for; it is a thing to be achieved.

This is often bandied around as a motivational quote, but like many such quotes, it has its detractors. I don’t pretend to know what William Jennings Bryan had on his mind when he said this, but I have my own thoughts.

On the one hand I often argue here that the choices we make influence what we end up as, and that I’m unlikely to change my mind on. My own experience, both of what has happened to me and what I’ve seen happen to others, is that your choices have a big impact. Of course there are circumstances not of your making that will affect how your life turns out. I wrote last week about the fickle finger of fate and how none of us know how long we have here.

So no, we don’t choose everything that comes our way. The trick for me is in how we react to the slings and arrows through our lives. As with the quotation that started this off, there are loads of old adages, all of which have a modicum of truth in them. One that suits my line of thought here is “When the going gets tough, the tough get going”. You can roll over and moan when things go wrong, or you can try to turn something positive from the experience.

On that basis I have no time for the arguments of those who would reject the premise as not being a law of life. Of course we have no choice in many aspects of our existence; we don’t chose to be brought into life and many choices are made for us by others during our formative years, but we do have the choice of whether or not we learn at school for example, and we have choices about how we approach whatever job we manage to find ourselves.

Not everyone is going to make big sums of money, but that isn’t the only measure of success in life. You can either sit around and wait for something to happen or you can make an effort. You won’t win them all, but you have to be in it to win it, so if you don’t try you don’t have a chance. Even a lottery winner made the effort to pick some numbers and buy a ticket.

Having dreams is fine, but they need a little work to make them come true. It’s fine to look up in wonder at the heights and want to be there looking down, but those who go for a ladder have the right idea.

It doesn’t matter how hard things look there is always an opportunity to try something. One of my schoolboy heroes in the late 50s and early 60s was the great Swedish rally driver Eric Carlson. A bear of a man he could make those little 2 stroke Saabs dance over the ice and through the forests, and at a time when such cars were just modified production vehicles with little of the safety aids of today. There was also no route reconnaissance or pace notes, but when he was asked about what went through his mind heading over a blind crest at night in the forest at 100 mph, he shrugged and said, “Well, the road must go somewhere”.

For all of us we have these blind crests on the road of life; destiny may not always be in our hands, and whatever WJB had in mind when he uttered his words I don’t know, but for me they do make a connection. I’d rather go down trying than crying.

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