Orrin Woodward on LIFE & Leadership

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    Former Guinness World Record Holder for largest book signing ever, Orrin Woodward is a NY Times bestselling author of And Justice For All along with RESOLVED & coauthor of LeaderShift and Launching a Leadership Revolution. His books have sold over one million copies in the financial, leadership and liberty fields. RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions For LIFE made the Top 100 All-Time Best Leadership Books and the 13 Resolutions are the framework for the top selling Mental Fitness Challenge personal development program.

    Orrin made the Top 20 Inc. Magazine Leadership list & has co-founded two multi-million dollar leadership companies. Currently, he serves as the Chairman of the Board of the LIFE. He has a B.S. degree from GMI-EMI (now Kettering University) in manufacturing systems engineering. He holds four U.S. patents, and won an exclusive National Technical Benchmarking Award.

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Hannibal Barca: Purpose Determines Destiny

Posted by Orrin Woodward on November 14, 2012

I have been working on a couple research projects for future books when Hannibal’s story struck me so much that I decided to share it with my readers. In my book RESOLVED: 13 Resolutions for LIFE, the first resolution in on the subject of purpose, namely, because one’s purpose determines one’s destiny. As I reflect on my life, every decision has followed naturally from my God-given purpose to reach millions of people with Truth. Some of the decisions have been tough, but absolutely necessary if I intended to fulfill what I believe God has called me to do. In reality, without a purpose, a person is similar to a boat sailing in a sea with no rudder. It just goes with the wind, not towards any intended target. Everyone has a choice on what to do with his or her life, but as for me, I intend to follow my purpose to my destiny. The LIFE Business reaching millions of people is my destiny and I intend to fulfill my destiny one family or one person at a time.


Orrin Woodward

Hannibal’s Pledge

Hamilcar Barca, commander of the Carthaginian forces defeated in the first Punic war vowed to have his revenge. Having lost Sicily, Corsica, and Sardinia, Hamilcar was assigned to defend the Carthaginian territories of Spain, accompanied by his nine-year old son, Hannibal. Vowing revenge, Hamilcar brought his young son to an altar and made him stretch his hand over the fresh sacrifice to pledge undying hatred and enmity against the Romans. Indeed, this was an oath that Hannibal fulfilled to his last dying breath.

Crossing the Alps

Hannibal Barca Invasion RouteHannibal’s father died when he was 18 years old. By 26, Hannibal had succeeded his brother-in-law as leader and commander of the Carthaginian forces in Spain. Exercising all his mental and physical talents to fulfill the oath promised to his dad, Hannibal built a powerful army and developed a daring plan to strike a blow at his hated Romans rivals. As part of his total strategy, Hannibal befriended the Gallic tribes that controlled the passes over the Alps. Soon afterwards, he besieged the city of Saguntum in northern Spain. Despite being 100 miles south of the border between Carthaginian and Roman territory, Saguntum was considered an ally of Rome, thus initiating the Second Punic War. Rome didn’t fear anyone, especially since they controlled the sea lanes and knew Hannibal could never transport an army of the needed size across the Mediterranean Sea without risk of annihilation by the stronger Roman fleets.

Consequently, Hannibal moved his troops, consisting of nearly 50,000 men and around 40 elephants, north into France and eventually over the passes of the Alps into Italy. No one had dared such an audacious plan before and it caught the Romans completely by surprise. Leaving his brother Hasdrubal to defend Spain, Hannibal’s expected to raise further troops from disgruntle allies of the mighty Roman empire. In concept it was a brilliant plan; however in execution many of his men and nearly all of his elephants died on the journey. In fact, Hannibal, exhausted and feverish, lost sight in one of his eyes on the journey. Remarkably, only 20,000 of the original 50,000 departing men arrived on Italian soil, yet Hannibal refused to yield to circumstances. He was determined and to fulfill his vow by inspiring his men with thoughts of taking down the growing Roman Empire.

Battles in Italy

Hannibal’s army rallied to his call and he defeated the first Roman army sent against him at the River Trebia. Enticing the Romans into crossing a waist-deep frigid stream, Hannibal’s men defeated the exhausted Romans. The next battle, at a narrow pass between Lake Tasimene and the mountains, Hannibal’s strategy of hiding his calvary until it fell upon the Roman rearguard, pinched the Romans and ended in another victory for Hannibal’s outnumbered troops. After various delaying tactics by the Roman general Fabius, the Romans decided on a final all-out offensive to rid themselves of the pesky invader. At Cannae, Hannibal’s strategy achieved, not just a victory in battle, but everlasting fame as one of the classic maneuvers in military history. Using superior discipline, Hannibal’s middle gave ground while his wings swept forward, leaving the Roman’s surrounded as they surged into the middle gap and the wings closed in upon them. The massacre of tens of thousands of Romans left Hannibal in charge of the Italian countryside and no Roman army ever fought a pitched battle against Hannibal again on the Italian mainland.

Hannibal’s Recall

Amazingly, however, Rome still refused to surrender. Hannibal, although victorious on the battlefield, did not feel he could conquer the city of Rome with its strong fortifications. Consequently, the Fabian Roman tactics of attrition warfare led to the demoralization of morale and men in the Carthaginian army. Hannibal had counted upon reinforcements from discontented allies; however, most of the allies remained loyal to Rome rather than join in rebellion. Between Rome’s naval supremacy and the inherent dangers of the mountain passes, Hannibal reinforcements were few, while Rome continued to rebuild its army to defeat the invader. Finally, to break the deadlock, Scipio, in a brilliant maneuver, attacked the Carthaginians in Africa, thus forcing the recall of Hannibal’s army. Strikingly, the Romans had survived the greatest threat to their empire until its eventual collapse 600 years later.

In 202 BC, at Zama, in south-west Carthage, Hannibal was finally defeated. Rome’s victory over Carthage ensured Roman supremacy in the Mediterranean waters. Shortly afterwards, Hannibal, upon learning his enemies in Carthage intended to turn him over to Rome, went to exile where he eventually killed himself rather than surrender to Roman forces intent upon his capture. A sad ending to one of the best generals and leaders of all-time.

Hannibal’s somber story makes one reflect upon the importance the driving force in one’s life. His vow led to his destiny – a series of battles against Rome – leading ultimately to his exile and death. Hannibal was brave, courageous, and focused in the pursuit of his purpose, but the question is: was it a worthy purpose?  Invariably, one’s purpose determines one’s destiny. Consequently, it’s important to determine what one is called to do and then do it with all one’s might. Hannibal, because of his passion to pursue his purpose, nearly defeated the mighty Roman empire. Knowing the importance of purpose in one’s life, perhaps its worth investing the time to detect the God-given purpose inside and resolve to courageously pursue it for the Glory of God.

32 Responses to “Hannibal Barca: Purpose Determines Destiny”

  1. Thanks for putting so much time and effort in researching and sharing these stories and their principles! can’t wait for the book!

  2. TJ said

    Orrin – what a great point to reflect on… Thank you for staying the course, I know you have impacted my family’s lives for the better…

  3. Tina A. Abernathy said


    Good stuff! What a wonderful story of commitment which to means victory is the only option. Then I see discipline, the ability to do what you need to do even when it is tough. And certainly not last was a compelling vision which drew others to his calling.

    WOW, I see Team Life all over this but even more than that I see the micro part my calling plays in the macro vision of 1 million and beyond.

    Thanks for sharing and answering your call!


  4. Jim Martin said

    Now that’s tenacity!! That’s the team conquering territory and fortifying!! Great post Orrin

  5. Elaine Mallios said

    Ahh. We learn from the lessons in history. I remember learning about Hannibal and the elephants but never the suffering he withstood and the tenacity to move forward. When your purpose is revealed to you, you must pursue it. Great research – so interesting! Thanks!

  6. Renee Oettinger said

    Pursuing passionately our God given purpose does bring meaning and knowing it will impact others in a positive way energizes. I see how some people pursue an endeavor passionately using alot of energy but in a negative way or without lasting impact. It is crazy what can be achieved with a dream and focus.

  7. Clint Fix said

    I like the historical war stories that you and Chris use to illustrate your point. In fact, one of my favorite older CDs is one where Chris talks about Sir Sidney Smith’s fight against Napoleon. Would love to hear more like it!

    Thanks for the great post!

  8. Maura Galliani said

    Finally, I’ve identified my life’s purpose and have every confidence that I’m on track to realize my God-willed destiny. But I loved the question you posed following Hannibal’s story: was it a worthy purpose? Surely a question that everyone should remember to ask and answer for themselves! Thanks for always stretching me, Orrin — I feel my “growing pains” … fired up!

  9. jandmlewis said

    Thanks Orrin! Since associating with the LIFE Community, I have a renewed interest in history and its significance in our lives today. Great article!

    John Lewis

  10. jimmy varghese said

    talk about passion. hannibals name will forever exist in history because he dared to dream and pursue his destiny. the LIFE opportunity gives everyone the chance to have their existence be known for eternity due to servant leadership and building relationships. great article Orrin!

  11. Eben Smith said

    Man Orrin I remember studying Hannibal in history. The story you explain wasn’t like in class. Especially how you aligned it with our God given purpose. Wow truly inspiring. Thanx Orrin.

  12. I can’t begin to tell you how I appreciate your persistence in studying and growing. God Bless,

  13. Michael Stithem said

    That’s a story of commitment.

  14. Great post!

  15. Rita H said

    Hannibal was ‘all in’ to live out his purpose. Are we ‘all in’ to see our purpose lived out in our lifetime?

  16. Great post Orrin…thanks!

  17. Don and Jan Fallis said

    The lessons in our own lives will give us a map of our past. The lessons from your visions will give us a map for our futures.
    Don and Jan Fallis

  18. Peggi Kern said

    Wow! What a story!! Thanks for sharing, Orrin.

  19. Very glad Marc and I live our God-given purpose. It is a purpose worthy of the same tenacity that Hannibal showed for his but our side wins victoriously, for who can be against us when God is for us? : )

  20. Aron Radosa said


    With the “Me/I” thinking on the grow, it becomes greater everyday to learn more and more from history. History is filled with people that put themselves beside to pursue a life. What a great example in Hannibal of the numbers don’t matter when you have a purpose and a destiny.
    God bless,

  21. Kevin Hamm said


    I listened again today to Oliver DeMille’s, The Technology of Genius. What a great compliment to this post. “To set captives free” would best describe my purpose. Economically, by spreading entrepreneurship, and spiritually, by spreading God’s grace through Jesus Christ. The LIFE business fits so beautifully into that purpose. Thank you.

  22. I am thankful for you and all the leaders who choose to live out their purpose on a daily basis. It convicts me and reminds me daily to focus and pursue mine as well. This was a great lesson in history and perfect example of a man who followed his calling.

  23. Keith Sieracki said

    Great post. It shows the power of an oath of two men (Hannibal to Hamilcar) whose results were etched in history. Imagine a world if we made a oath to our heavenly father and backed it with action!!!

  24. Emma Horvath said

    So grateful for the source of Truth that the Team/LIFE materials + blog posts like this are in my life. Thank you for taking your time to study & share these valuable lessons of history with us!!

  25. Cassie Morgan said

    Wow this is a great story! Thanks for sharing!

  26. Highly insightful.
    The timing of this post was excellent, as just about 2 mos. ago, I finished reading ‘The Centurion Principles’ by Col O’Leary, and two of his chapters were dedicated to none other than Hannibal & to Scipio Africanus (the latter of whom won the Battle of Zama in 202 B.C. )

    This post further expounds upon the colonel’s excellent write up, and thus, I can now easily recommend both in the Freedom ‘F’. Much appreciation, Orrin!

  27. Bill Eder said

    Thanks Orrin: Like others I don’t recall hearing the rest of Hannibal’s story. Perseverance stands out in this story. Thanks for yours as well. I’ll echo others “If God is for us Who can be against.”

  28. Eric Norman said

    Hannibal is a tragedy, for his vow was to be an eternal enemy of Rome, and it did lead him to many great victories over the Romans. Yet, this was not his purpose as he saw it. His purpose was greater than just defeating a few Roman armies–not matter how big any of them were. His purpose was to defeat Rome itself, and the battles were nothing more than stepping stones to that end. Nonetheless, he is a another case of winning the battles, but loosing the war. The flip side of Hannibal’s story is Rome adapting to his tactics; even though they learned their lesson the hard way, they still learned it. Hence, there is also the lesson that we can take from Rome, that perseverance also helped out Rome–perhaps more so than for Hannibal. After all how else can one win a war of attrition except through perseverance? Hannibal thought by defeating all the armies sent against him, he could force Rome to sue for peace when in fact Rome had no intention of doing so. Rome knew he was far from his primary supply source, and he could only sustain himself off the Roman country side for only so long. Hannibal did not go down win battles. No matter how glorious they may have been, they were only intended to be a means to an end, that is, Roman submission. Although he won many great battles, to me, they were of fleeting glory since they did not bring the intended result he had hoped for.

    If any thing, it seems like lessons can be drawn from both sides, and as leaders, it seems like we need to learn from both sides. If we learn from the people who have borne the fruits–and not just speak of the fruits–then it seems Rome has just much to teach us. This is so especially in the light that while Hannibal went to seek to force Rome’s hand to submission (i.e., talking about the fruit, the submission of Rome); yet, in the end, it was Rome who ultimately forced Hannibal’s hand by forcing Carthage to recall him to defend the home country (i.e., borne the fruit, expulsion of Hannibal from the Roman homelands).

    Before now, I personally had not esteemed Hannibal very much. Yet, your article did bring something out, for now I can esteem Hannibal not because of the battles (that did not bear the fruit that he wanted) but because he went in knowing the cards were stacked against him. He knew he could not depend on Carthage (with its weak leadership); so he went about making the most of his situation. He needed to convert enough tribes to become his allies to feed him and provide men to replace and reinforce his own ranks. Yet, despite victories against Roman armies, he needed a relatively quick victory against Rome itself because unless he followed through on his word to defeat Rome, his allies would only remain allies for so long. He knew this invasion on the Roman homeland was Carthage’s best hope for survival, but it is a pity that Carthaginian leadership did not see it as strongly as he did–or perhaps they were afraid to do so? If anything, Hannibal exemplifies perseverance in spite of the odds, and therein lies perhaps one of our lessons: perseverance in spite of the odds–real or imagined. How many times does a new person in TEAM/LIFE have fear because of the (real or imagined) odds–especially in the beginning steps? How many times does it convince them to either take longer or simply quit? They look at the 99% against them while ignoring the 1% in favor of them. Also is it not one of the points of the TEAM system to leverage the 1% (per se) in favor of them?

    Yet, as a final note, Rome is the example of perseverance knowing the odds were in her favor–not capitulating before the final victory. It seems to me, the system of TEAM/LIFE is designed to stack the odds in favor of the new person–in the long run–but how many times has the new person quit just before they get into their grove (per se)? How many have quit when victory was just around the corner?

  29. Kim Decker said

    Yes to discover and then follow my GOD given purpose can be hard at times. My thing is I will never loose sight and will get to the end. Thank you fro another great post.

  30. Bob Rasmussen said

    Detecting and living our God given purpose will be enjoyed by millions thanks to the TEAM!! Thx Orrin and the policy council!!

  31. KellyJack Nelson said

    Orrin, Thanks for an additional perspective we can use to further understand and apply what we have learned in Resolutions and so many of the books supplied through the subscriptions of the Life business. They are really helping and I appreciate all you and the other leaders do.

  32. Charlotte Honcharenko said

    Thank you, Orrin for pointing out the purpose of not giving up and having a purpose in Life. I’ve become more interested in learning about history since my association with Life and listening to CD’s. #lovelifeleadership
    Charlotte Honcharenko

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