ship on fire

THE SECRET TO ACHIEVING SUCCESS: BURN THE SHIPS!

In my latest post, I examined the most common mistakes people make when they are pursuing their goals.

Now it’s time to unveil what the secret to hitting a target is.

To reveal the secret, I will use history!

Have you ever heard about Hernán Cortés?

Hernán Cortés is the Spanish ‘conquistador’ who conquered the Yucatan Peninsula, and defeated the Aztecs.

He gathered the most courageous and veteran soldiers to carry out his mission.

He marched towards the Aztec empire with 500 warriors thrilled to do what was never done before.

Cortés was a great leader, he laid a vision for his army, he knew how to encourage them.

He talked to them emphasizing what their life would be like thanks to their victory.

He ingrained a strong desire in his soldiers.

Despite that, when they got to the beach on the Yucatan Peninsula, the same men who had willingly left Spain were daunted and doubtful whether they could succeed.

What did Cortés do to bring their soldiers back on track, and motivate them to win the war and not let fears prevail onto them?

He commanded his soldiers to BURN THE SHIPS!

He realized that the only way to succeed was to have just PLAN A, i.e. conquer the Yucatan Peninsula.

He put his men’s back against the wall.

By scuttling his own fleet Cortés ruled out the possibility of retreat, of giving up his mission.

It would have been the ultimate failure.

By burning his ships, the great conqueror made success the only option.

There’s nothing more powerful than having no options, no way out, having no alternative but to win, thrive, and succeed.

Thanks to his strategy, two years later, in 1521, Cortés and his army completed the mission, they conquered the Aztec Empire.

WHAT DOES THIS FEAT TEACH US?

It teaches us that when you put your back against the wall, by having only one choice, i.e. being committed to whatever you want, you cannot move backward, you cannot run away, there’s only one path you can take, that is moving forward!

You remove the option to flee and when you don’t have an option you find a way to follow through.

What was a should becomes a must for you.

You rule out all excuses; having a PLAN B is just an excuse to justify yourself for giving up your dreams.

Let me ask you:

how often have you planned to achieve something (PLAN A), but you have set a PLAN B just in case something went wrong with PLAN A?

This is the wrong approach.

PLAN B distracts you from PLAN A, from your real goal.

You MUST narrow your focus and invest your energy only in what you truly want.

The bottom line is that the secret to hitting any goals dwells in being committed to just one.

If you are persistent you can eventually get to your destination.

OTHER SUCCESSFUL EXAMPLES OF THE “BURN THE SHIPS” STRATEGY

Many other successful people have applied this strategy.

One of them is Thomas Edison, the famous inventor who made 1,000 unsuccessful attempts at figuring out how the light bulb works.

And when a reporter once asked him: How did it feel to fail 1,000 times?

Thomas Edison replied:

“I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps". - Thomas Edison

The great inventor chose to have one option only and, despite the 1,000 times quote-unquote “failures”, in the end, he succeeded.

Another example of a successful person that didn’t give up his dream because he chose to have only PLAN A is Soichiro Honda.

“Success is 99 percent failure”. - Soichiro Honda

In both the above-stated examples there is the common denominator that makes the difference when it comes to accomplishing a goal, sticking to just a vision.

Both Honda and Edison chose to not give up their dream, and that was possible because they ruled out all other options.

These stories should help us to understand that, despite the many failures we can possibly encounter towards the accomplishment of our dreams, if we are relentless, we eventually hit our target.

It’s never failure till you give up.

Failure is part of the process and is a prerequisite for success.

The sooner you get used to it, the sooner you will see failure as an opportunity to learn something new and improve yourself.

You will not consider it an insurmountable obstacle, and you will not feel discouraged and ready to give up your dream and replaced it with PLAN B.

If you have only PLAN A, you will figure out how to achieve your goal no matter how many failures you could possibly experience.

Don’t allow PLAN B to get into your way.

You MUST do a covenant with yourself!

You are not going to waste your biggest gift, i.e. the only one life you have.

It boils down to pursuing what you want in life.

Become unstoppable despite the struggles, burn your ships, and be a conqueror, like Cortés.

Or if you prefer, be a champion, like Muhammed Ali.

“Don't quit. Suffer now and live the rest of your life as a champion”. - Muhammed Ali

Christian Caliendo
Christian Caliendo

10 thoughts on “THE SECRET TO ACHIEVING SUCCESS: BURN THE SHIPS!”

  1. Interesting. As a personality, I’m a planner by nature. Plan A, B, even C, but still, they’re all connected to what I like to do and also to my big “don’t”.
    Is not easy to even figure out our vision in this cluttered times, but for sure to have one, and to stick by it, is necessary for not losing ourselves in hard times.
    Let’s make it as a pledge for 2021, shall we? Find your inner fire, and stick by 😀

    1. Definitely a pledge for 2021!
      I have burned my ships, I have a strong vision and I’ll stick by it. I will do whatever is necessary to achieve my goal no matter how many pitfalls I can possibly encounter.
      I am hungry for success!!
      Let’s conquer our goals!

  2. Great article Christian! I’ve found it truly insipiring. I agree that having only a plan A is the key for success and for acheiving one’s goals. Looking forward to reading more on the topic.

  3. I agree that it’s better to have only a plan A but my mind always creates planes B, C, D…
    Let’s see if I can adapt my actions in future 😉 thanks for sharing

  4. Great share Christian it just remind me on the conversation Samuel Eto’o had Yesterday with the Cameroon national team prior to the” Chan Compétion” He Said: each match is a final and we are here to win .There is not and alternative . Reading your article Let me understand that having a plan A and sticking on to that without letting distraction(planB) deviate us from our purpose ,vision is the secret to aheive success in anything WE do in Life.

  5. Great article!
    When I create different plans, I find it difficult to stick to plan A!
    Very true and inspiring words!
    Thank you Chris!

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