Burn The Boats

There’s a story about Cortés and his campaign of conquest that I’d like to share. I’m not sharing it out of any endorsement of the action or anything, just because it’s a relevant story to what I want to talk about. Anyway, as the story goes, Cortés landed in Veracruz and wanted to start conquering, but the hearts of his men weren’t fully in it. After all, he wanted to commit them to a pretty extensive and dangerous campaign of bloodshed that totally wasn’t authorized, and he (rightly) feared that his men would retreat too early once the going got tough.

So once he landed and all his men were ashore, he burned the boats.

No turning back now!

In general, I think you should NOT emulate Cortés in like 99% of ways. But one important lesson you can draw here is that people with a fallback plan almost inevitably fall back on it.

If you want to accomplish something difficult, you have to remove any option to not accomplish it. You have to burn your own boats. Of course, unlike Cortés, you shouldn’t burn other people’s boats – only your own. But burn them you should!

When dealing with responsibilities, you should give yourself a safety net. It’s good to have savings, for example. It’s good to have health insurance. But if you’re trying to reach beyond your basic survival and really achieve something of your own volition, don’t give yourself the option to fail. Raise your own stakes. See what you’re really capable of.

Don’t like your job? Quit before you find a new one – you’ll be more motivated in your search. Don’t apply to a safety school. Climb that mountain without a harness. Okay, maybe not that last one. But if you did, I’d bet you’d be REALLY motivated to finish the climb!

Motivation isn’t everything. Ability counts. But motivation is what unlocks ability – without it, the ability languishes even if you have it. The fastest sprinters are chased by wolves.

Put a little more danger into your life, and see what happens.

Image result for burning boat

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