The Home of Steven Barnes
Author, Teacher, Screenwriter


Wednesday, October 14, 2009

The Master of your fate, the captain of your soul

"I am the master of my fate, I am the captain of my soul."

The above statement is held up as a goal of the autosuggestion and goal writing in Think And Grow Rich. I've had many conversations with successful people, and disproportionately, they believe this, or have positions reflective of it. I've yet to meet a really successful person who felt they just sort of wandered through their life. Who believed the opposite of this, in other words...unless they saw themselves as an instrument of the Divine. God's soldier, so to speak. That I've seen, and accompanying this is a certain amount of bewilderment that they ended up where they are in life. Looking back over their lives, however, these people tended to work hard at what was place before them: school or extracurricular activities, etc. At some point they discovered a talent, an ability, a vein of accomplishment that both came easily and felt good to them. So they went that way.

Often, these people had strong, supportive parents and communities. That's terrific. But what if you don't have that? I'd say that you then have the obligation to "be your own parent." In other words, you have to tame that wild six-year-old inside you, the one with all the creativity. Create a playground where the dreamer and the planner and the do-er can all come together and work for a common goal. Remember of course that the "kid" part of you needs to play, and has to be indulged...a bit. But like a dog, horse, or child, that part of you also responds to loving discipline. Needs it, in fact, like roses need rain.

Being the "captain" of your soul implies taking responsibility for your actions, if not your emotions. We may not have conscious control of the voices in our head, and our feelings, but we DO have it over large muscle-group actions. And this is one of the critical lessons: that what we feel and think does NOT have to determine our behaviors.

Being "master" of your fate doesn't mean that you don't acknowledge that there are outside factors that can contribute to, or diminish the chances of, our success. It means to step away from the common crowd that says their relationships, their careers, their bodies are beyond their control, in the hands of society, history, family, or whatever. These people can easily find pity-parties to agree that it is impossible to make money, that there are no appropriate mates available any more, that it just isn't possible to lose weight. Whatever.

If you want to live your life on your terms, you will HAVE to ignore them. Have to shut your mind tightly and move forward. Your actions will threaten the hell out of some, and they will try to drag you back down: the "crabs in a basket" phenomenon. And I've yet to meet a single successful person who did not have to deal with slings and arrows of unfair criticism. Not a single one. They just kept going. They just heard the call of their muse more clearly than the screams of the social group that thought it had a right to hold them back. Somehow, they took responsibility.

That's the first step of the entire Lifewriting process: to TAKE RESPONSIBILITY. If you don't do that, you are dead in the water. Your career, your life, your health depend upon it. After all...if you aren't in control, who is?

9 comments:

Steve Perry said...

Invictus, by William E. Henley -- a poem I remember because it was something I had to learn in detention in junior high, (aka "study hall,") something I got stuck in for mouthing off to a teacher ... and there's a big surprise ...

I can still remember it more than fifty years later:

Out of the night that covers me,
Black as the Pit from pole to pole,
I thank whatever gods may be
For my unconquerable soul.

In the fell clutch of circumstance
I have not winced nor cried aloud.
Under the bludgeonings of chance
My head is bloody, but unbowed.

Beyond this place of wrath and tears
Looms but the Horror of the shade,
And yet the menace of the years
Finds, and shall find, me unafraid.

It matters not how strait the gate,
How charged with punishments the scroll,
I am the master of my fate:
I am the captain of my soul.

Steven Barnes said...

Amen.

Ethiopian_Infidel said...

Invictus was a favorite of the late Nigerian Educator, Activist and outspoken Atheist Tai Solarin (1,2), who required all students attending his Mayflower schools to memorize it and take it to heart.

1)http://www.infidels.org/library/modern/richard_carrier/Tai_Solarin.html

2)http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mayflower_School

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kamagra said...

I have a lot of masters of my fate, for example I believe in the Olympus Gods because they're who determined my fate, they're who give me the force and understanding to know how my fate will be.m10m

muebles en chinchon said...

Well, I do not really imagine this is likely to work.

Tabatha said...

Thanks so much for your post, pretty helpful information.

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