In the first scene of “The Last Samurai,” starring Tom Cruise and Ken Watanabe, the Samurai has a dream in which he sees the tiger coming for him. He doesn’t know what it means, but he knows that it is important. Later, in the first battle, where the Samurai army overwhelms the poorly trained Imperial troops, the Samurai sees Captain Algren (Tom Cruise) wounded but fighting with the lance holding a flag that has the same tiger on it. The Samurai watches God favor Algren. Algren kills another Samurai who is by far a superior sword fighter. At that moment, the Samurai could let the others kill Algren, which would be the normal course of events. But he stops them.
The Samurai realizes that his destiny has just called to him. He doesn’t know the future, but he senses that his destiny is calling him. He spares Algren’s life and has him taken with them.
At that moment, he can’t know that Algren will come to respect and honor them, he can’t know that Algren will become one of them, he can’t know that Algren will save him from the evil minister’s plot to have him assassinated, he can’t know that Algren will help him fight and die gloriously, he can’t know that Algren will present his sword to the Emperor and that the Emperor will finally listen.
At that moment, all he can know is that his destiny is calling to him. And he chooses to hold the door open for his destiny to be slowly and eventually revealed.
As he says, “A man does what he can until his destiny is revealed to him.”
Whether we refer to it as a call to our destiny or a call for us to take up a quest, a hero’s path, we must hold the door open, we must let our destiny in or we must walk through and follow the path to our destiny. If we don’t open the door to our destiny, if we turn our backs because we don’t recognize it or are afraid to grasp it, our lives will turn into ashes, parched and burned, sifting through our fingers.
And we must follow our destiny even though we can’t know what the future holds. Winston Churchill said, “It is a mistake to try to look too far ahead. The chain of destiny can only be grasped one link at a time.”
The Samurai reached for his destiny not knowing what it would be.
Stop for a moment. When has your destiny called, especially in unexpected ways? When have you had a sense that a new and glorious and possibly frightening future has called to you? When have you turned away? When has your reason or your fear turned you away from what your guts and accurate intuition wanted you to heed?
And what might happen now if you started listening for your destiny’s call? What might happen if you vowed to heed the call next time, to reach out and grasp your destiny, one link at a time?
Expert coaching can help you distinguish your destiny, the call of your accurate intuition from the call of your fears or your wishful thinking or other peoples “purpose” for you. Expert coaching can help you overcome the voices of your fears, guilt and self-bullying. Expert coaching can help you develop a plan that honors the commitments and responsibilities you still want to honor.
Reach for your destiny; reach all the way. Choose whether to live a selfish, shabby, sordid story or a great and worthy story. Be the hero of your life.