Hernando Cortes had a plan, he wanted to lead an expedition into Mexico to obtain its many treasures. He presented his plan to the Spanish governor, who was so excited that he gave him eleven ships and seven hundred men.
Cortes did not tell the men or the governor the complete plan. After months of travel the eleven ships landed in Veracruz. Cortes had the men unload everything from all eleven ships.
As they headed into their new adventure the men turned back and saw all eleven ships burning! Their reaction was to fight back, as surely an enemy had initiated such an attack. Cortes halted the men, as this was in his plan, he had ordered the ships to all be burned.
Cortes did not know what he and his men would encounter in their expeditions. What he did know was that by “Burning the Ships” he had completely eliminated their option of going back. At the same time creating an intensely powerful motivation to succeed. 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 turning around and abandoning your goals, you must make going forward more compelling then going back.
When striving towards a goal, you must focus on what you want to obtain and avoid the impulse to go back to what you know and to what is comfortable. Eliminating an escape route creates a compelling reason to focus on the goal and to keep moving forward. 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.
Ladies and Gentlemen, we must Burn Our Ships for our pursuit of The Kingdom!
What ship do we have to burn that would secure our commitment in moving forward and eliminate any chances of retreat?