I am the Master of my Fate and the Captain of my Destiny. – Nelson Mandela

Destiny: the undeniable “mystery” (i.e. the events that will necessarily happen to a particular person or thing in the future) which unravels itself with time.

Are we free from the clutches of destiny? Can a man completely control his destiny? Are we the puppets of fate, or the masters of our own fate? These are questions which pose themselves before every man at some point in his life, depending on the circumstances he finds himself in. We didn’t choose what we were born as, or what or whom we were born with; but at the same time we can choose whom to associate or relate with, or where or what we could be.

Katsumoto: You believe a man can change his destiny?

Nathan Algren: I think a man does what he can, until his destiny is revealed.

Life at times appears as a mixture of pre-determinism and free will: but most of the time our free will helps us to shape the reality we can create—even if it may be through extensive effort.

Until you make the unconscious conscious, it will direct your life and you will call it fate. ― C.G. Jung

Yet the more you see at life, the more one realizes that man’s control over his circumstances, no matter how great it may be, is still limited. And more so, is his control over fellow beings. The impermanence of circumstances and people’s behavior due to the certainty of change in life renders most of man’s control over these factors in life as: limited. Sometimes shit happens when you least expect it….


..yet, you can still decide how to deal with it.

Thus, the greatest (and most complete) control what a man can actually achieve in his life is over his own self—which unfortunately most men fail to accomplish, or even pursue.

Modern society often argues that it is easier to control others, than ourselves—but in reality on the flip side, it is also easy to control the self, which would help us better control and influence others if we devote ourselves to learning how to do it.

You will never have a greater or lesser dominion than that over yourself…the height of a man’s success is gauged by his self-mastery; the depth of his failure by his self-abandonment. …And this law is the expression of eternal justice. He who cannot establish dominion over himself will have no dominion over others.
― Leonardo da Vinci

The mastery of one’s own self to forge one’s own destiny is possibly the ultimate test a man could face in his life. How we maintain our frame in the face of life’s uncertainties can give us important clues on how far we have gone down the path of self mastery. There are only two things in life which are certain: change, and the grim reaper. Every human being has to experience them some time or the other, so the time we have in life is what is our greatest possession.

Self mastery possibly represents the ultimate goal that a man could achieve (or could seek to achieve)— for it is a potent tool that helps us to create the reality or destiny that we seek for ourselves…

The only person you are destined to become is the person you decide to be. ― Ralph Waldo Emerson

…and self mastery plays an important role in that, as it encompasses the attributes necessary for often creating a self-willed reality.

If you do not create your destiny, you will have your fate inflicted upon you. – William Irvin Thompson

We can only control what we can control. And the most cherished thing that we can control is the self.

If you do not conquer self, you will be conquered by self.” – Napoleon Hill, Think and Grow Rich

Since the journey of self mastery is possibly the most difficult (and important) journey  a man can undertake in his life, there are certain factors which are extremely important and necessary for the process, and the subsequent attainment of it. They are:

1.The knowledge of self-discovery, and courage

Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom. – Aristotle

This is the seed, the first step towards self mastery. Who are you—as a person, taking in regard the complete sum of your nature-given gifts and flaws? Do you really know yourself? Have you discovered your true self and the purpose of your life?

You cannot control or estimate who you are or what you can do, unless you know first who you are or what you can do. Answering these questions honestly is the least a man can do for himself, to begin self-discovery. You cannot master the self until you know what your own self is – for many are often afraid to take the plunge into the abyss of their own selves to face their personal “demons” – but rather choose to “safely” spend their lives trying to “discover” others.

And you? When will you begin that long journey into yourself? ― Rumi

We can control others because we know what they think, how they’d act, or what they can or would do; but do we know what our own selves are capable of?  Thus self discovery becomes very important for the formation and correct estimation of the true self in one’s own mind, as we can’t see ourselves in first person as others do.

The formation of the true self image after self discovery leads to the correct visual reality or the goals we can properly visualize for ourselves. Such is the power of self-discovery, for it grants us with the true knowledge of what we realistically are and what we are capable of, which itself is Power. This power, coupled with courage, is an important catalyst on the path to self mastery.

Courage in the context of self mastery is not recklessness; rather it is the ability to face the truth (knowledge) of the flaws within ourselves and the dangers (fears) around us which limit us, and to make efforts to overcome them.

A man’s fears often limit him unnecessarily, which stunt his identity. Fear can be of two types: the known and the unknown—but can be overcome with the shrewd, sincere, and dedicated use of courage, coupled with knowledge – for the masterful man knows which battles to pick wisely. The man who rises up to his fears is thus the master of his own self, and can take charge of his destiny.

Knowledge and Courage are the elements of Greatness. They give immortality, because they are immortal. Each is as much as he knows, and the wise can do anything. A man without knowledge, a world without light. Wisdom and strength, eyes and hands. Knowledge without courage is sterile. – Baltasar Gracian, The Art of Worldly Wisdom

2. Self-Belief

Within the self, that is. If you don’t believe or trust in yourself, no one can help you.

To be a champ you have to believe in yourself when no one else will. – Sugar Ray Robinson

Belief (or faith) in oneself is possibly the greatest belief that a man could harbor (after belief in God). The human body and mind is incredible, when it comes to feats of greatness. All of these were possible with the power of belief.


To become masters of the self, we must first believe that we can become masters of the self. That self-belief is the dynamo which unrelentingly fuels the journey of a man on the path of self mastery, in face of failures and pitfalls.

3. Willpower and Discipline

 Will power is to the mind like a strong blind man who carries on his shoulders a lame man who can see. –  Arthur Schopenhauer

“When there is a will, there is a way,” as the saying goes. To control the self, willpower is undoubtedly necessary. Man, created free, is possibly the greatest slave to his own volition. But how many men ever manage to control their own volition—and train their own minds?

If you are going to win any battle, you have to do one thing. You have to make the mind run the body. Never let the body tell the mind what to do… the body is never tired if the mind is not tired. ― George S. Patton

Willpower and discipline are important tools in the arsenal of the masterful man. Learn how to generate them, even if the process may be mutually exclusive.

4. The art of delaying self-gratification

As mentioned above, most men are slaves to their own volition.

Find out each man’s thumbscrew. ‘Tis the art of setting their wills in action. It needs more skill than resolution. You must know where to get at anyone. Every volition has a special motive which varies according to taste. All men are idolaters, some of fame, others of selfinterest, most of pleasure. Skill consists in knowing these idols in order to bring them into play. – Baltasar Gracian (1601-1658)

Now imagine, if a man knew his own thumbscrews—and mastered them. Would he be at the easy disposal of others who would set “his will into action”? The masterful man who is  the master of his own pleasure is not only the one who can attain or create his pleasure easily, but also the one who can delay its gratification – at his own will.

5. Minimalism

To be a true master of yourself, you must be free from others. The more you’re free from external obligations, the more you’re free to lead the life you’d want. That’s where minimalism can be expressed in your life – by de-cluttering and making your life free from external interferences as much as possible.

Live a minimalist life—free from unnecessary things, ideas and even people—which and who limit your freedom. Learn the ways of how to create your own freedom. Cultivate simplicity, frugality and austerity. In today’s commercial times, not only will this help to conserve your resources and maintain your financial freedom—which lubricates other types of freedom—but it will also bestow onto you the survivor’s mindset, which will help you to make the best of any situation, how matter how difficult and trying it may be.

6. Emotional Detachment


Directly linked to the factor above, the virtues of emotional detachment cannot be explained enough. You cannot become the master of your own fate, as long as others continue to have a say in to ‘control’ and determine your actions, thoughts, and thus eventual fate.

The man who finds security and fulfillment within himself is the true master of the self. He doesn’t let things, myths, unfounded beliefs, or people rule his life , as he is free from attachments to such which would limit him. The real reason of his fulfillment is because he lives his life naturally as a free being, as nature created him to be—to discover his own unique identity and create his own destiny.

The most important aspect of my personality as far as determining my success goes; has been my questioning conventional wisdom, doubting experts and questioning authority. While that can be painful in your relationships with your parents and teachers, it’s enormously useful in life. – Larry Ellison

Emotional detachment is, if you think deeply about it, a liberating form of self-love that a man can and should develop.

7. Perseverance and Patience

The only time you fail is when you fall down and stay down. ― Stephen Richards, Cosmic Ordering: You can be successful

On the path towards self-mastery, there are bound to be innumerable mistakes, what people may brand as “failures.” But a mistake is not a failure, as long as you continue to pull yourself back onto the path of self-mastery. Enlightened men went through a period of “failures” during their metamorphosis into self-masterful men; for no one learns self-mastery from the mother’s womb.

The key is not to lose focus, and more importantly, patience with the process. A great quality of the men who attained self-mastery was patience: not only with others, but more so with the self, when they failed. As the teacher is patient with the student’s mistakes during the learning process, they were patient enough with themselves to stick onto the path of self-mastery and continued to persevere without quitting.

8. Self Reliance

The great man is he who in the midst of the crowd keeps with perfect sweetness the independence of solitude. ― Ralph Waldo Emerson, Self-Reliance

Self-explanatory as it is, the power of self reliance is one of the core strengths of the master—which he develops and guards persistently. He thus becomes the rock to which others lean onto, just like the mountain to which the dew gravitates to.

9. Acceptance

People around you, constantly under the pull of their emotions, change their ideas by the day or by the hour, depending on their mood. You must never assume that what people say or do in a particular moment is a statement of their permanent desires.  ― Robert Greene, Mastery

The value of acceptance is explored quite vividly in Robert Greene’s bestseller “Mastery”,which teaches important lessons on the subject. Some of the greatest challenges we often face in life involve accepting life for the shit it throws at us through the unpleasant circumstances, events, things and people we may encounter.

True social intelligence—the hallmark of a master—also involves guile, and sometimes suffering fools gladly, and trying to see yourself as how people see you —so as to be in a better position to deal with them, once you know their perception of you. This acceptance is thus not easy to practice by all, but only by the initiated as it involves a lot of patience and endurance—qualities necessary for both self-mastery, and mastery over others.


I count him braver who overcomes his desires than him who conquers his enemies, for the hardest victory is over self. – Aristotle

Many successful men live their lives mastering others without mastering themselves. Happiness from success is not a goal, but a journey. But the greatest fulfillment comes from freedom, for it allows us the leverage to shape the destiny we desire for ourselves—which is often and truly created by self-mastery of the self, which itself is a journey.

Read Next: How I Found Freedom In An Unfree World

Send this to a friend