Mastering The Art Of Burning The Fucking Boats

The Simple One Truth That Will Set You Free & Help You Conquer The World

@ hideyoshi / @ Deviantart

I am never a fan of a certain influencer or personality, but I am a seeker of the best advice regardless of the mouth it comes from.

Among the big and small names you may hear and the pieces of advice that would change your heart, shock your world and give you a good groundbreaking wake up call — this was my best motivational speak ever:

“If you wanna take the fucking island burn your fucking boats; and you will take the island ’cause people when they’re gonna either die or succeed, tend to succeed.” — Tony Robbins

You may not like the guy, but Tony Robbins' advice nocks down any other, better advice by miles. Here’s my reasoning:

#1 — You Need To Feel The Heat

This, for me, is the winning factor. I can procrastinate until the sea goes dry and the seasons change six times. I used to pretend to be a risk-taker. Problem: I always try to jump with one leg on the shore. You probably know how this never works.

Hearing Robbins talking mercilessly about how I am full of sh**ty excuses and that the only way I have out is to burn my bridges was a huge kick in the butt — the guy tarnished my self-esteem in 2 sentences. Now, I have to burn the fucking boats, or I’ll never take over the island!

Research led by Assistant Professor Patricia Chen from the Department of Psychology at the National University of Singapore (NUS) shows that people with a strategic mindset are the ones who, in the face of challenges or setbacks, ask themselves: “How else can I do this? Is there a better way of doing this?.”

To succeed in modern life, people need to accomplish challenging tasks effectively. Many successful entrepreneurs, business people, students, athletes, and more, tend to be more strategic — and hence, more effective — than others at meeting such challenges. A new study shows that one important psychological factor behind their success may be a ‘strategic mindset.’ What can be a better trigger of strategic seek of a way forward than having no logical way back? You got the crystal clear picture.

Trying to reflect this concept on my choices: I did have the tendency to pick the lesser evil. The lesser evil meant in 99.9% of cases is to go back to the safest, already walked, paved road. Yet, if I know one thing now, it’s that paved roads will take you nowhere new. Only unstepped paths in the depth of the forest will lead to amazing discoveries -unless you are part of the movie “Wrong Turn” then I’m terribly sorry!-.

“To achieve extraordinary results, you need to take extraordinary actions”

#2 — Resourcefulness Is The Ultimate Resource

I used to be one of Tony’s audience who can go on and complain all day about why my start-up idea failed. I tell you: my list is ready, and my list is long! Grab a chair and hear me out as I start my never-ending ranting.

Facing the ugly truth is needed. We need that harsh, tough love where people won’t shy away from telling you the truth.

It turned out that the problem is not the money, the resources, not the lack of support. It is simply the lack of faith that you can provide what you need — it’s the lack of resourcefulness.

I remember the first time I heard this line; my reaction was: what the hell is he talking about?

Two years after, I changed my perspective of my struggles, how I perceive my goals, and their potential solutions. It turns out that we are truly what we tell ourselves — our story is written in our imagination before it’s written in ink in real life. That’s why telling yourself reassuring phrases like “you can do it,” “You’re up to this,” and “you’ve been through worse” are actually not a cliche — they are your truth of how you perceive yourself.

Reassure yourself that you can find the resources, and you are resourceful enough, and you’ll be transformed, slowly, to become one.

#3 — The Spanish Boats Heritage

This is a well-known technique in wars that were used over and over again by many conquerors. Let me take you a bit back in the history to give you the real story behind the boats that were burnt on the shore of the fucking island — the story of Hernán Cortés.

In 1519, the great conqueror, the Spanish commander Hernán Cortés arrived at the shores of what then was the “new world” with one ambition of conquering what we all know now as Mexico. The story is told that before entering the battle, Hernán gave the most bizarre, unthinkable orders: he gave instructions to his men to destroy their own ships! Filled with fear and agony, his men stood in shock — why would someone burn the only way they have back home to flee if their conquest ended the wrong way? The message was clear: “There is no turning back,” said Hernán, “We will conquer, or we will die!.”

Some historians argue that the story was a bit different, but the message & the act are clear and -if you think about- are true, and it resembles Robbins message:

When you have one choice and one choice only to survive: you are most likely to survive. Why? Because you simply have no other choice. Such insecurity motivates people to do better, to challenge themselves.

Burn Your Boats, Gradually

Now, some may be paralyzed by such fear; that is why I believe it is important to do the assessment and, more importantly: to. give it a. try on a smaller scale.

Let me give you an example: You have never tried raspberries, and I’m telling you they are so delicious. Now I ask you: do you like raspberries? Your answer will be: “How can I know when I have never tried them?”

The same applies to every aspect of your life, big or small. You need to try it. You need to push boundaries. You need to test. new limits of your strengths & weaknesses.

As a wise man once said:

“Be strong enough to let go and wise enough to wait for what you deserve. Sometimes you have to get knocked down lower than you have ever been to stand up taller than you ever were before”

Try the burning boat method on a. smaller scale: on daily decisions like buying a bike or having no choice but to pass that exam. You see, I hated to be pushed, and I hate it still! But what I found relieving is that I tend to do way much better when I’m pushed, when I’m challenged to become a better version of myself. In other words: when I am competing against yesterday-myself.

How can you know? You need to try it. Gradually get used to the feeling, then bring down havoc and let the whole town in the fire!

Do you know how we get out of miseries and struggles stronger than before? Have you ever wondered why that happens EVERY TIME to EVERYONE?

Because we are pushed to new limits, too. new places of discomfort that forces us to respond differently. The old ways won’t cut it. So we challenge ourselves and our beliefs in finding a way out.

That is what that promised area outside our comfort zones truly about.

Entrepreneurship & The Burned Boats

This is a phrase I heard over and. over again from both starting and accomplished entrepreneurs who made new inventions from the ground up:

“I had no other choice but to succeed — I had no source of fund, no job, and no other choice but to make it, so I made it big!”

Again, this may not be “your thing.” Maybe you are the kind of person who prefers a net of safety, and you know what? We all need one. But how secure your net should be is the one element that may be forbidding you from taking the risks you should be taking.

What does that mean? You may not quit the job because you need it. The money, although you know that you are not fully focused on your venture that may flourish if you focus fully. Does that mean we should all quit our jobs in order to succeed in startups? No. What it means is that you should plan your exit from day one.

Do you see the difference? No one is asking you to jump into the water without knowing how to swim. But at some point, you have to take the jump. After all:

“You can discover new shores if you are afraid of losing the sight of old shores, and you can’t jump into the water with one foot on the edge.”

All these quotes celebrate the same fact: You need to have no blanket of safety at some point if you want to make new and huge achievements. Period.

What If I Don’t Want to Burn My Own Boats?

I’d say: what works for others may or may not work for you. Maybe feeling the heat, living on the edge, and always having a tingle of fear is not what motivates you the best. Guess what? The only person who knows what motivates you the best is you. Saying this, if you have already tried it the safe way and always had a survival rope, and that didn’t work for you, then maybe that’s the one sign you need to try & shake things up — Try the burning way.

Status quo Antagonist | Diversity Sourcer | 20+ Cities Traveler | Published in TheStartup, The Ascent & DDI | Palestinian🇵🇸 | Let’s chat: http://bit.ly/LNKDMD

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store