I recently had an interesting discussion about destiny with a business coach I know, Andrew Horder. It’s quite a philosophical subject, but also has highly practical implications for any organisation’s (and individual’s) development and marketing.

Andrew raised the topic as he’d been pondering over the blurb from various personal and business development consultants promising to help ‘fulfil your destiny’.

I’ve seen such promises bandied around, too.

A quick Google search brings up the Fulfill Your Destiny leadership development firm; the Designing Your Destiny coaching practice; this course on ‘How to fulfill your destiny.’

And people quite often say a person or project is ‘destined to succeed’ (or fail).

But ‘destiny’ is defined as ‘the predetermined course of events; fate’ (OED).

And if your future is preordained, why would you bother to take up anyone’s help to fulfil it, or make any effort towards it at all? That would surely be a waste of time and money.

Your personal destiny could be to become a rock star, or a homeless person. An organisation’s destiny might be to become the UK’s biggest retailer – or to go bust.

If your fate is glittering, that’s great news – you need do nothing. If you’re lined up for failure, that’s pretty depressing – but equally there’s nothing to be done.

Whatever scenario applies, you’re stuck with it.

Choice & opportunity

The fact is, I don’t believe in destiny. And I think talk about it is dangerous.

It matters because our beliefs influence our actions. If I go along with the idea that I have a destiny, it will encourage me to be passive and wait around for my future to unfold. And many people do seem to do this – sit back and hope for the best.

Instead, I believe we all have choice – and the opportunity to shape our future through our decisions and actions, though luck will also play a part.

Surely we can work hard and make smart decisions to increase our chances of success?

And if things are heading in a bad direction, the good news is we’re not doomed: we can often take action to turn it around.

As individuals, we can hone our skills, make thoughtful decisions and persevere towards our goals. An organisation can set clear objectives and strive to reach them through hard work, an astute business strategy and smart marketing.

This is the whole point of identifying your organisation’s long-term vision – to set a direction for your business and marketing strategy and increase your chances of achievement.

A study some while back by US academics Collins and Porras found that companies they identified as having clear visions had outperformed the general stock market by a huge factor of 12 since 1925.

So I believe none of us is destined for success. But we all have a great opportunity to achieve it. And that’s a great motivation to work hard and take the right actions.


What do you think? Do you disagree and believe we have a destiny?