Throughout my career as an entrepreneur, I have personally fought this demon. I’ve also witnessed dozens of clients seized by the same affliction, and it has cost me AND them tens of thousands of dollars and untold amounts of stress. What am I talking about? Simply put, the fear of commitment, the fear of going with my gut, the fear of making a big decision without certainty.
Andy Andrews, New York Times bestselling author of The Noticer, The Traveler’s Gift, and The Heart Mender tells the story on his website (and in this video) of Spanish explorer Hernando Cortez and how he conquered his fears, and those of his men, as he landed on the shores of Mexico in February of 1519. All judgments about invading conquistadores aside, Cortez faced a mutiny by his men, as well as his own self-doubt, when he sought riches where several brave explorers before him had failed miserably. To ensure his commitment and that of his men, legend has it that upon arrival on shore, he burned his boats.
Think about that for a moment.
I don’t even pretend to have that kind of confidence. Having grown up in extremely modest circumstances, I fear losing the small amount of affluence that I’ve attained. But at the same time, I have to remember that I did not make the gains my late father would find amazing without taking some pretty significant risks. He was an entrepreneur trying to feed ten: himself, his bride, and their eight children (I’m number seven). At one time, he had tried simultaneously to run several businesses to feed us: a pest control company, a truck farm, a tree and shrub nursery, and a BBQ stand. I’m sure there are others I’m not even aware of. Not all of these were successful; some failed miserably, but some succeeded just enough to accomplish his primary goal.
When Mom and Dad sold a relatively comfortable home in Demopolis, Alabama to move us all to Tuscaloosa so we could attend college, he had no certainty that he could afford the new home or the tuition for eight kids, five of whom were at the University of Alabama at one time. But his gut told him that it was the right thing to do. Talk about burning some boats.
Duane Marshall is a new friend and fellow Entrepreneurial Operating System (EOS) implementer from the Greater Detroit area. In our LinkedIn discussion group, Duane recently posted a comment on this topic:
I was reminded this weekend of how powerful this really is. Doesn’t matter if you’re holding onto a second business, doing the same thing (and getting the same results), or networking with people outside of our target market. Thank you, Gino Wickman, for kicking me out of my house and working at a coffee shop for three months. Thank you, Don Tinney, for the encouragement to stop dabbling in my old business and going all in. Thank you, Mike Paton, for the kick in the @%# to get results! All of which made me feel uncomfortable. A great quote from The Greatness Guide written by Robin Sharma:
“Powerful thought: Great achievement often happens when our backs are up against the wall. Pressure can actually enhance your performance. Your power most fully exerts itself when the heat is on. Who you are surfaces only when you place yourself in a position of discomfort and you begin to feel like you’re out on a skinny branch. Challenge serves beautifully to introduce you to be your best – and most brilliant – self. Please stop and think about that idea for a second or two. Easy times don’t make you better. They make you slower and more complacent and sleepy. Staying in the safety zone – and coasting through life – never made anyone bigger. Sure, it’s very human to take the path of least resistance. And I’d agree it’s pretty normal to want to avoid putting stress on yourself by intensely challenging yourself to shine. But greatness never came to anyone normal.”
So think about it, if you are the Integrator or Visionary who also sits in the sales seat and you are doing both (and neither of them well) and wondering why your sales are not growing or growing too slowly. Get a little uncomfortable and decide to burn a boat (go out and actually hire someone that can get you there) and hoist the sail in the boat that will let you go in the direction you really want to go. It will be painful, may cost you some money, and perhaps challenge some of the ways you do business. However, in the end, as I have heard others say and I’ve said to myself… “Why didn’t I do this sooner?”
Now, I am embarking on this journey myself again; committing to a course of action others might see as too risky, too new, and too unproven. But in my gut, I know I’m right. And I couldn’t have chosen a more rewarding cause: helping others do the same. And wow, it’s working! Why didn’t I do this sooner?
Thanks, Dad! I’m glad you had the courage to burn our boats.