Burn the Ships!


In the early 16th century, a Spanish conquistador led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire and brought large portions of mainland Mexico under the rule of the King of Castile. He was a part of what began the Spanish colonization of the Americas.

His name was Hernando Cortez.

There is famous story about Hernando Cortez. Whether it’s 100% accurate or not seems to be of some debate, but I would like to share it with you.  The point it illustrates is without a doubt 100% beneficial.

Spring of 1519

Traveling by sea, when Hernando Cortez and his men landed in Mexico one of the first orders he gave was to burn the ships. This may sound shocking and like something you might hear in a blockbuster movie, but Cortez was so committed to his mission that he did not want to allow himself or his men to even entertain the option of going back. His message was simply this:

Succeed or die.

Cortez and his men were forced to focus on what it would take to win. He had no way of knowing what he and his men would encounter in their journey. What he did know was that by “burning the ships” he had completely eliminated the possibility of going back. Failure was NOT an option. They HAD to find a way to win.

He created an intensely powerful need to succeed. Additionally, since he must have thought they would succeed, he instilled confidence in his men. Of this we can be sure . . . his plan was certainly not to die on that day.

To guarantee success, act as if it were impossible to fail.
~Dorothea Brande

Follow the Stars

When I was young, I had dreams of being a rock star and I put my whole heart into it. I lived, breathed and ate drums. And yes, I had long hair and even wore spandex. I also skipped college while I held odd jobs just so that I could pursue my burning desire. Then I started to get some advice from those that were “older and wiser” than I, and it often sounded like this:

“You should really think about the future. You know, have something to fall back on, it’s a tough business you’re trying to break into, not a lot of people succeed at it.”

While the person saying this might think they’re looking out for you, I’m sure you can see the negativity in that statement. This type of thinking will lead you to believe that you will most likely fall back; that you won’t succeed and that “yeah, it IS tough”, especially if you might have already faced a struggle. It plants psychological seeds of doubt. This is how your dreams die. Wouldn’t it be better to plant seeds of life?

It takes but one positive thought when given a chance to survive and thrive to overpower an entire army of negative thoughts.
~Robert H. Schuller

Many people think that by having a back up plan, you’re being prepared. But the reality is this; you’re actually preparing to fail. It can do much more harm than good. Here’s why. By putting time and effort into “something to fall back on” you have to take time away from pursuing your passions, and that will either deter, or delay your achieving it.

When you start to think in the back of your mind “well if I fail I could always . . .” it changes your actions and your focus. It will discourage you. Cortez and his men had to find a way to win the battle with nothing to fall back on. They had to figure out any and every way to triumph. Their very lives depended upon it.

Doesn’t your life depend on your success?

Is the advice to have something to fall back upon ever what you hear from someone who is a rock star? A millionaire? An entrepreneur? A conquistador? Someone who has succeeded greatly? No, it’s usually coming from someone who is average and no better off than you are.

People who say it cannot be done should not interrupt those who are doing it.
~Chinese Proverb

The Choice is yours

What if you knew you HAD TO succeed? What would you do differently? Would you plan and prepare more? Work harder? Build a better army? Focus more? Look for solutions? Learn more? Waste less time? Persevere? Of course you would! You would be left with no other choice. If you start doing all of this right now, then in no time . . .

BOOM! Success just might hit you like a cannonball!

You see, Cortez made it impossible to fail, and the story ends that he did, in fact, succeed greatly. So what ships do you have to burn? What fears do you have to eliminate? What limiting beliefs do you have to overcome?

Burn the Ships!

Now I’m not saying to tell your boss to shove it, especially if you need an income to put food on the table, even though doing so has served as a catalyst for others. But right now that might create stress. You must carefully prepare a sound plan and act on that plan immediately and diligently. If you give 100% to your mission you’ll enjoy more success than you can imagine. You cannot let seeds of doubt grow in your mind. Forge ahead!

If you only go halfway to just try it out, and then you fail, you will have regrets, rumblings below the surface, this feeling of failure along with a sense of remorse. You might already know the feeling I mean, and it’s not warm and fuzzy.

It’s possible that you can succeed where others have failed. I, through perseverance, went on to succeed in music. I’ve been on tour, appeared on TV and radio while others fell back on something they don’t really enjoy. Did I struggle? Absolutely. Was it worth it? Heck yeah!

Get out of the boat and burn the ships. And remember, evaluate any advice that you’re given and decide if it’s credible or not. Has it worked for others? Will it work for you? Act on what motivates and inspires you, set sail and get excited, you CAN conquer the world, or at the very least, your world!

I’ve got a theory that if you give 100 percent all of the time, somehow things will work out in the end.
~Larry Bird

Rob Liano
Rock Star Life Coach & Sales Trainer
1.855.832.ROCK (7625)

© Rob Liano and Rock Star Success Coaching, 2013. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Rob Liano and Rock Star Success Coaching with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.

About Rob Liano

The Rock Star Success Coach & Sales Trainer, Rob Liano is a best selling author and a Certified Life Coach empowering others through Personal Development & Professional Achievement!
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2 Responses to Burn the Ships!

  1. Doreen DeVore says:

    You’re an amazing writer and motivator. Thank you for the time and effort that you put into your writing. I appreciate your words.
    When you have the ability to change someone’s life through your writing and expression you’re truly living a purposeful life!!! Thank you for being you and keep spreading the positive energy and love.

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