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Tuesday, January 13, 2009

The Pursuit of Destiny

It's choice--not chance--that determines your destiny.
- Jean Nidetch

I saw the Golden Globe winning movie “Slumdog Millionaire” last week, which, by the way, is totally worthy of all the current hoopla surrounding it. The film is a uniquely told rags to (potential) riches story that forces audiences to contemplate whether or not some moments are preordained. For context, a brief synopsis of the film (without giving too much away) is as follows:

Jamal, a genuinely good-natured young man, orphaned as a boy and educated solely by the hustle of the streets, finds himself at the cusp of winning $1 million on a widely popular television game show. His success is so baffling to authorities that he is accused of cheating. Claiming innocence, he proffers an explanation of his trivia knowledge in the form of an autobiographical narrative. Once told, his story allows the authorities and audience alike to understand how a series of hardships and obstacles during a misguided and tragic youth equipped Jamal with just the right insight to answer each question. (Read a great review that ties Slumdog Millionaire to Obama very nicely here.)

From the beginning the film bluntly asks the audience whether Jamal’s presence on the game show was written – predetermined – meant to be. Watching each detail and playing witness to the relentless series of obstacles that shape this character’s life, you can’t help wanting to believe that some omniscient mystical entity created each obstacle as a means to a happy end. Yet, such an overly romantic view of the movie seems to rob our hero from the credit that he is certainly due. You see, never once, did Jamal ever stop believing that he would succeed in reaching his ultimate goal. Never once did he allow the hardships to deter his overall focus. Instead, he viewed obstacles as temporary hindrances and worked diligently to overcome them, and in a way, his story of perseverance allows for a less mystical, more tangible understanding of destiny. It allows for destiny to be less about chance and more about control – and during this time of year when people are pondering ways to improve themselves I thought this new definition of destiny would help to empower us all.

Whether you believe in a celestial being, or whether you believe you are the master of your own circumstance, one thing remains true - you simply can’t get to destiny without having commitment to your beliefs, the resiliency to overcome temporary setbacks, and the foresight to know that every setback is just temporary.

Generally, my New Years well wishes would include luck in all your endeavors for 2009, but like Barack Obama, success is in your destiny. So instead, here are some tips on how to maintain your commitment and stay resilient in the face of tribulations. (Thanks for sharing Nic). Oh and make sure you go see Slumdog...

New Year's Resolutions: The 10 Commandments of Goal Setting
by "Goals Guy" Gary Ryan Blair
(Special thanks to Connie Bennett of the Sugar Shock! Blog site and "Goal Guy" Gary Ryan Blair)

1. Thou Shall Be Decisive.
Success is a choice. You must decide what you want, why you want it, and how you plan to achieve it. No one else can, will, or should do that for you.

2. Thou Shall Stay Focused.
A close relative to being decisive, but your ability to sustain your focus from beginning to end determines the timing and condition of your outcomes.

3. Thou Shall Welcome Failure.
The fundamental question is not whether you should accept failure. You have no choice but to expect it as a temporary condition on the path way of progress. Rather, the question is how to anticipate failure and redirect resources to grow from the experience.

4. Thou Shall Write Down Thy Goals.
Your mind while blessed with permanent memory is cursed with lousy recall. People forget things. Avoid the temptation of being cute -- write down your goals.

5. Thou Shall Plan Thoroughly.
Planning saves 10 to 1 in execution. Proper planning prevents poor performance.

6. Thou Shall Involve Others.
Nobody goes through life alone. Establish your own "Personal Board of Directors," people whose wisdom, knowledge and character you respect to help you achieve your goals.

7. Thou Shall Take Purposeful Action.
Success is not a spectator sport -- achievement demands action. You cannot expect to arrive at success without having made the trip.

8. Thou Shall Reward Thyself.
Rewards work! Think of what you will give yourself as a result of your hard work, focus and persistence - you deserve it! Aren't these wonderful goals rules? Now, check out Gary's life-changing Got Goals? program.

9. Thou Shall Inspect What Thy Expect.
The Shelf life of all plans is limited. No plan holds up against opposition. Everything changes. Therefore inspect frequently and closely -- it's an insurance policy on your success.

10. Thou Shall Maintain Personal Integrity.
Maintain your commitment to your commitment. Set your goals, promise yourself that you will achieve them. Eliminate wiggle room and excuses. That's personal integrity!

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