Success: Burn the Ships

Success: Burn the Ships

Growing up, many of us are taught to have something to fall back on. A fail-safe in case our plans for life don’t go exactly as planned.

This can be a useful strategy, but sometimes having a fall back plan can shoot you in the foot. Some of the most successful people found their footing when there were no other options.

This episode will discuss when it’s appropriate for you to “burn the ships.” This phrase refers to a story about Hernan Cortes. He had aspirations to conquer Mexico, but his men were fearful. They wanted to sail back to Cuba where there was an established settlement.

Sensing the anxiety in his men, Cortes secretly ordered that his ships be destroyed. His men found him out, but by that point, the ships had already been destroyed. He told his men that they could either be lords of Mexico, or they could sit there and die.

Focused and motivated to avoid death, his men fell into line, and Cortes conquered Mexico with just a few hundred men.

I learned this strategy from Robert Greene’s 33 Strategies of War. I recently spoke to him in an interview for the Warrior Soul Podcast, and it will be published on September 16.

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