Dreams and goals—most of us have them. Some big, some small, yet all are important. A great portion of mankind’s greatest achievements began as dreams. From the first airplane that took to the skies to man’s first step on the moon, they all started as dreams so powerful that they drew the best out of mankind. It was not just the dreams alone that made these feats possible but, more important, it was the drive behind them.
Many people today walk around with broken dreams that are still very fresh in their hearts, but they will never take any steps toward realizing them. Childhood dreams, career dreams, business dreams all dissipate with time. These people continue to take the same approach through life, remaining in the same dead-end jobs even when they are clearly miserable.
One of the biggest reasons most people do not take action and instead remain in a position of misery is simply because of fear of the unknown. We ask ourselves, “What will happen if I leave this job with a guaranteed salary to pursue a business with no guaranteed income? What would happen if I make this business move and it doesn’t work out?” While these are legitimate questions, I also want you to consider the meaning of this quotation:
“A ship in harbor is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.”
—John A. Shedd
Ask yourself, “What am I made for? Am I made for much more than I am today?” If so, at some point in your life you must make a decision—a big one. Are you going to pursue your dreams and live life to the degree that you were meant to live life? Or are you just going to settle and live a so-so life? If you want more out of life or your business, you must summon the courage to pursue your dreams and goals. If you don’t, years from now you will look back with regret and wonder about what could have been.
Getting the motivation to follow your dreams and pursue your goals isn’t always easy to come by. There are many approaches to doing so, and one such approach is known as “burning the boat.” This approach has been used for centuries by important legends such as Alexander the Great. Alexander, the great conqueror, served as King of Macedonia from 336 to 323 B.C. During his time he led a great army, and together they conquered most of the known world, vastly expanding the Greek empire.
It is said that when Alexander got to shore before one of his many battles, he ordered his men to burn their boats. He felt that by doing this his men would be completely focused on achieving one goal—victory. And it worked. By cutting off all options to retreat, his men were fully committed to the cause with no way to go but forward. With this single goal in mind, they fought hard with everything they had and defeated their opponents.
Many times in life we are held back from achieving our goals because we do not wholeheartedly commit ourselves to them. With an escape route in mind, we hold ourselves back from giving our all. There are some battles in life where, if you are going to win, you have to “burn the boats.” In these battles, all of your efforts must be focused on victory. No quitting, no backdoor exits. As you give your goal your full attention, your focus will raise your performance level and help you rise to the occasion.
What “boats” do you need to burn in your life? What is holding you back from achieving your dreams or goals? Set yourself free so you can focus on the life you want and go after it with everything you have. Let me be clear: This strategy is not for everyone and it is certainly not a strategy to be used for all situations in your life. If failure is not an option—and success is your only option—then this is a strategy you may want to consider.