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Responsibility or Destiny; The Journey of Becoming

Updated: Mar 23

What we call our destiny is truly our character and that character can be altered. The knowledge that we are responsible for our actions and attitudes does not need to be discouraging, because it also means that we are free to change this destiny. - Anais Nin

Man standing in front of a podium addressing a sitting audience

Often I hear people blame their failure on circumstances or the challenges around them. Some people go as far as validating the situations with words like destiny and fate; claiming it is meant to be. But I have seen that life proceeds in the direction of he that is challenging, bold, and resilient. Even in the face of obstacles, you can still push your way through.

Some events will certainly happen to which we can do nothing, but we still have a variable we can all control. Our reaction to any event whatsoever is always our decision, that simply means we can influence the outcome of that situation by our choices and decisions.

A life of resilience

Floyd James Thompson is the longest-held Prisoner of War(POW) in United States history. He was captured and held for more than nine (9) years during the Vietnam War from 1964 to 1973.

It was on March 26 1964 that an L-19 observation plane co-piloted by Capt. Thompson was shot down about 20 kilometers west of his Special Forces camp based at KheSanh, the Republic of South Vietnam. Due to the incident, Thompson was captured with a broken back and a bullet wound by the Viet Cong (National Liberation Front of South Vietnam).

With a broken back and a bullet wound, he was given little medical care which left him unable to care for himself for more than a month. He was fed with only rice gruel by his captors, and he began to depreciate in weight. Then he realized that he has to start vending for himself to stay alive. He began by disciplining himself to endure the pain and stretch his arms and legs until he regained use of them gradually.

By June 1964, about three months after his capture, Thompson has fully regained the use of his hands and legs. He was the subject of great torture for another three months before he gave-in to sign a statement that the communist forces were treating him well. He continued to be subjected to tortures of various degrees and deprivation of necessities.

Thompson was made to walk blindfolded on a long journey towards North Vietnam through the Ho Chi Minh trail until he reached the eighth POW camp on the trail. To make him sign statements proving the involvement of the U.S government in Vietnam was criminal, his torture was increased. He was choked and hung by his thumbs, with his hands tied behind his back, he was hung from a rafter until passing out. He was denied food for days and kept in a tiny wooden cage with shackles to his legs and arms. In the face of all the torture, he did not consent to sign the statements.

For about four of the nine months of his captivity, he was isolated from other American prisoners. On January 28, 1973, Thompson was moved to the Hanoi Hilton, a prison that was earlier used by the French colonists in French Indochina for political prisoners. He was released and returned to the United States about six weeks later.

Terribly thin and pale, Floyd James Thompson was reunited with his wife, three daughters, and a son he never met before on the morning of March 20, 1973, at the Valley Forge Army Hospital. It was a reunion infused with emotions, as tears bore the witness.

Held as a prisoner for almost a decade with severe torture and deprivation, Floyd Thompson survived and went on to live twenty-nine more years.

Do you still think that was just destiny or fate?

He was for nine years confronted by death but he kept holding on to a thin rope of life. There was a strong desire to remain alive to share his experience to help others learn that there is strength to survive hard times.

The desire to live was not enough but he took responsibility for himself. He had to train himself to neglect his pain to recover from a broken back without proper medical care. He must have run out of steam but he did not run out of resilience. Was his life due to destiny or the product of what he chose to do with it?

Let me lend the voice of Ben Carson when he said;

“We create our destinies by the way we do things. We have to take advantage of opportunities and be responsible for our choices.”

Jack Welch made it clear that if you fail to control your destiny, others will control it for you. Destiny is what we choose to make out of our situations, and opportunities.

Don't leave your destiny up to someone else. Some people are not aware it's their choice to create their own destiny while others set personal goals and take responsibility for the direction of their lives. You can surrender your destiny to the desires of others, or you can control your own destiny by establishing your goals and working steadily to attain them. - Catherine Pulsifer

Life is a journey of either Fate or Destiny. Fate is the result of giving in to one's wounds and heartaches. Your Destiny unfolds when you rise above the challenges of your life and use them as Divine opportunities to move forward to unlock your higher potential. - Caroline Myss

When the odds are against you, how will you react? When you are sailing and the tides become turbulent, will you just succumb and let the wave swallow you? The real worth of a man is evaluated by challenging moments of his life; this is when the real virtues come forth. Resilience and persistence are essential tools that help every man in shaping out his destiny even in the face of adversity.
There is no chance, no destiny, no fate, that can hinder or control the firm resolve of a determined soul. - Ella Wheeler Wilcox

Luck or Work?

Floyd kept tugging on to a flicker of life because he believed his story of survival will inspire and help someone. He later went ahead to share his story and inspire fellow military men like himself. That must have been a huge success but at a great cost of perseverance and resilience.

Many ascribe accolades to luck as being the force behind some achievements but is there something like luck in that sense? Have you seen someone that got a first-class degree honor without registering for the course? It is succinct in the words of Henry Ford that there is no such thing as luck, the harder you work the luckier you will get. Success is attracted to hard work, you cannot leave your success to chance.

“Luck is what we make it, not what is thrust upon us. You’ve shown initiative and it has nothing to do with luck.”– George Bellairs

Destiny is not sitting back to see what unfolds next like a movie, and the same it is with luck. You have to stand up and work out your destiny, then fortune smiles on you, and some term it as luck. Luck is a reward of getting dogged in the place of work, no sitting on a pinnacle waiting to sight luck walking on the streets.

The Ticking in the Human Spirit

When the cheering is over and the lights are out when a man is left alone to face himself there is a ticking deep within the soul. There is a yearning within that calls for expression, it is the voice of purpose. Every life is designed to have a positive impact on the world, and that keeps the spirit of the man ticking.

Nature has it well planned that our backgrounds and experiences are purposed to shape us into a perfect fit for that purpose. I can conveniently inspire people and corporations with my story because I was able to hold through the hardship and pain and came off it better equipped for the purpose.

More purposes are left unfulfilled ironically because of the very things that should build the holder for better fulfillment. Many inner tickings have been quenched because of poverty, fear, health issues, emotional losses, and several other reasons. These reasons are the ingredients that life employs to inspire us to dig deep and shed off our easy linings. Through the annals of time, it has been established that great men have been well baked by the hardships they ferried through.

More than anything else, I believe it's our decisions, not the conditions of our lives, that determine our destiny. - Anthony Robbins

The message of motivation

Under the hold of poverty, rejection, and obscurity, I was able to wriggle through and become a motivator. But it is not just as easy as speaking or writing about it, there is a drive. It was resilience that provided the impetus to keep plunging further even when I can only see walls. Amid the storm, it is resilience that bends but fail to break, it is submerged but never sinks, resilience is the virtue that climbs on even when the ladder is out of sight.

Resilience is not an exclusive character, it can be developed by anyone who desires it - something you can learn from a resilience coach. But it does not surface until called out by challenges. Keeping a positive view about the hardships on your path, see them as either a chance to learn or an opportunity to progress.

This is your life, not a dress rehearsal. You are well able to take hold of it and be responsible for your destiny. Employ the magic of resilience and channel through the walls of life with a brand new path of excellence boldly laid behind you. Your destiny is your responsibility and yours alone.


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