The word ‘destiny’ can mean different things to different people, so it is important to be clear about the meaning we are using here, as part of Inner Leadership.
The English word ‘destiny’ comes from the French word destinée. Like the word ‘destination’ it looks to the future, to the place that we are heading towards.
This makes sense, because the original Latin word destinare (from which both the English and the French words are derived) meant “to make firm or establish.” So my ‘destination’ is something I have ‘made firm or established’ as the place I want to get to. And in the same way, many people use the word ‘destiny’ to mean something that is firm and established, fixed and unchangeable.
But as most of us have probably experienced, just because we start out intending to travel to a certain destination, it doesn’t always mean that we will get there.
In the same way, the meaning of the word destine changed over time to become “the action of intending someone or something for a purpose.” The intention remained fixed but the outcome could be uncertain.
This means that if my chosen ‘destination’ is the airport it is because I am intending to catch a plane for the purpose of travelling somewhere. But if the traffic is heavy, or a volcano explodes in Iceland, then I know I might not get there.
In the same way, if my chosen ‘destiny’ is to become President of the United States (which it isn’t) then it means I am intending to take on that role because of some purpose I want to achieve by doing so.
This is the meaning of the word ‘destiny’ that we use in Inner Leadership: an intention we choose, in order to achieve a purpose.
When people use the word ‘destiny’ to mean something that is fixed, pre-ordained, inevitable, then it removes their ability to change it: it puts their destiny out of their control, which stops them trying to shape it.
But when people use the word ‘destiny’ to mean something they are intending, for a purpose, even though it might not work out, then that puts them more in control. It brings added focus, energy, and enthusiasm to achieve their chosen destiny. And when things don’t turn out the way they expected, it gives them extra focus, flexibility, and inspiration to adapt to the new situation.
In a time of change, all this can be very useful.
Have you chosen a destiny for yourself: an outcome you intend to create, for a purpose you want to achieve? Would it be useful to have the extra energy, focus, and flexibility that come from defining them?
Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.
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