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Destiny?

In February of 2010 I wrote an article entitled Victim of Changes where I explored three contrasting perspectives of how one views positive and negative events as they relate to the broader context of their life.

Since then, I’ve recently discovered a trend; those who say that “everything happens for a reason” has experienced some significant pain or trauma.  While I am sure there are exceptions to this claim, I can’t think of a reason why someone would use this phrase if they had not gone through this type of experience.

From my perspective, it’s an interesting contradiction – by causing pain, God has, in some respect, prompted (forced?) these individuals to believe in him (or at least in some higher authority or plan).  This, I think, has always been a struggle for me.

I mention this particular phrase primarily because it resurfaced the other day in a lunch meeting with a past colleague.  Later on, that comment prompted me to think about what has happened and where I am in my life today.

But is this where I am “supposed” to be? “Supposed” assumes there is a predestined path for me (and for others).

For argument’s sake, if there was truly such a path, does emotion still play a role?  For example, if adversity strikes, does it benefit you (or anyone for that matter) to feel sad or angry about it?  If adversity was part of “the plan” it ultimately doesn’t matter what you feel about it – “it just is.”

Think about it. If you truly believe that there is a higher authority and that “everything happens for a reason” then at some level, negative emotion should not exist in your life.  If something bad should happen to you, “that’s life!” and you should quickly (and naturally) move on to the next chapter, next relationship, etc. void of any negative emotion or lingering concerns / doubt.

At some level it’s a utopian existence.  After all, in this frame of mind you’ll feel good all the time!  (“it’s part of the plan!”)  But of course, the emotional disconnect will be there; when unfortunate events occur, your lack of emotion may prompt the question “Do you even care?” to which you’ll naturally reply “Care about what?”

Using the phrase “everything happens for a reason” is a logical response to a nebulous, confusing and sometimes painful life path.  It’s another example of why the human dynamic is so complex; using logic to rationalize the unexplained, but subsequently claiming that “logic” has no place in one’s life – i.e. “life planning is meaningless”, “don’t analyze, just enjoy ..”, etc.

I can, of course, see the partial foolishness in this argument.  One is going to feel certain emotions regardless of their belief in a higher authority or “master plan.”  And, at some level, you almost have to believe that there is a predefined destiny for you.  Not believing this in some capacity can result in emotional and physical stagnation.

As of me, history will dissuade me from using this particular phrase, but my replacement belief is a combination of the following:

  1. Anything is possible.
  2. A belief in oneself is perhaps the most important religion of them all.

And/Or

 

Directions.

Take a look at virtually any career guide and the underlying message is “consistency” and “traceability” – i.e. does your career tell a story?  Does it show a clear progression and overall strategy?  Are you building to some higher goal, or just going from position to position?

In my particular case, it’s a combination of both:

There is an article in a recent issue of Forbes by Tamara Warren that showcases Dodge CEO Ralph Gilles.  Mr.Gilles is a talented forty-year old who has had a clear sense of what he wanted from the very beginning and has since risen to the top from his early beginnings at CCS.

 

I have always dreamed that there would a day where I would find myself in similar shoes. The work and personal sacrifices I’ve made will have paid off.  I will be able to thank everyone who believed in me since the beginning and I’ll be able to finally tell myself that “I did it.”

In some ways my abilities are like a river – some parts of the river are fast-moving and accelerate my progress in ways I had never imagined, while other stretches are dead calm leaving me to wonder if I’ve reached the end of the journey, but I don’t think this “river” has an end.

While I don’t have the benefit of a linear career path, I have many other qualities and talents that continue to open doors for me even today and will continue to do so in the long-run.

Ralph Gilles is a beacon for what’s possible.