Is it Time to Burn Your Boats?
by Carol Brown
One of the keys to reaching your goals is to eliminate any escape routes. It is tempting to retreat to safety and comfort when challenges and difficulties arise. To avoid giving in to fear and self doubt and abandoning your goals you’ve got to make your reasons for forging onward more attractive, beneficial and compelling than going back to your comfort zone.
When you’re working towards a goal, you have to focus on what you want to obtain and avoid the impulse to go back to what you know and to what is comfortable.
It has been claimed that when Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez landed in Mexico, one of his first orders to his men was to burn the ships. Cortez was committed to his mission and did not want to allow himself or his men the option of going back to Spain. By removing this option, Cortez and his men were forced to focus on how they could make the mission successful. This reputedly also happened around a thousand years earlier. The world’s greatest empire builder, Alexander the Great, burned his boats upon arrival on the shores of Persia. By burning his boats, Alexander committed his men to victory over the Persians, who far outnumbered the Greeks in great numbers. It is claimed he said “We go home in Persian ships or we die.”
Now, I’m not sure how much truth is in these stories but they do demonstrate a very important point. Eliminating an escape route creates a persuasive reason to focus on the goal and to keep moving forward. However, it is important to keep in mind that although there may have been burning of boats, they did not burn the food, supplies, tools and weapons.
Cutting off an escape route to increase motivation and create the desire to press on where you might otherwise give up is totally different from throwing caution to the wind and taking undue risks. Reaching your goals still requires practical planning and managing. All goals contain a certain degree of risk, but it isn't necessary to create undue risk and stress by not properly planning and consequently lacking the necessary tools and supplies to achieve your goal. Take risks, but don't be careless or foolish and simply hope that everything will be okay.
Before you decide to burn your boats, make sure you have the supplies and tools necessary to achieve the goal.
Close off the escape routes and make sure that you have a compelling reason to move forward. However, at the same time, make sure that you plan for the risk and have the tools, supplies and resources you need to succeed. You can't eliminate risk but you can plan for it.
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