The word ‘destiny’ means different things to different people. So as part of our journey towards becoming antifragile it is important to be clear about the meaning we are using here.
Like the word ‘destination’, the word ‘destiny’ looks to the future, to the place that we are heading towards. But its meaning has changed over the years.
intiially, the Latin word destinare meant “to make firm or establish.” This gives us one meaning of the word ‘destiny’: as something that is fixed and unchangeable, pre-destined.
But just because we set out for a certain destination it doesn’t always mean that we will get there. We might set out for the airport but then get caught in heavy traffic. We might plan a trip or a holiday only to discover that a volcano in Iceland or a global pandemic forces us to stay home. So over time the meaning of the Latin word destinare changed to reflect this. It came to mean, “the action of intending someone or something for a purpose.”
So what we really mean when we say that our ‘destination’ is the airport is that we are intending to go to the airport for the purpose of catching a plane. And if the traffic is heavy or a volcano erupts, then we might have to change our plans.
When we define our ‘destination’ this way it gives us the flexibility to adapt to changing circumstances. in a time of massive change this can be very useful. And when we define our own ‘destiny’ this way it does the same.
When people use the word ‘destiny’ to mean something that is fixed, inevitable, pre-ordained it removes their ability to adapt to changing circumstances: it assumes their destiny is out of their control, which stops them trying to shape it. In a time of massive change, this will be a problem.
But when we use the word ‘destiny’ to mean something we are intending, for a purpose, then we put ourselves back in control. We give ourselves the extra focus, energy, and enthusiasm that come from knowing the purpose of what we are doing. And if things don’t turn out as we expected then it’s no big deal — we simply adapt to find new ways of achieving the same purpose.
This is the way that Inner Leadership uses the word ‘destiny’. Our destiny is not fixed. It’s an outcome we intend, in order to achieve a purpose. And if the world changes then we change with it.
In a time of churning, thinking about our destiny in this way will bring us another step closer to becoming antifragile, using change to become stronger.
Have you chosen a destiny for yourself: an outcome you intend to create, for a purpose you want to achieve? Would you find it useful to have the extra energy, focus, and flexibility that come from doing so?
Adapted from Inner Leadership: a framework and tools for building inspiration in times of change.
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