You’re Not Going Back, So Burn The Bridges

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Christmas Season 1996, I went to Sam Goody (a music store, back when we had to go to physical locations to get music) and brought my first ever CD: Foxy Brown’s Ill Na Na.

My sister, a year older than me, thought this was a dumb idea. Her opinion was justified by the fact that I didn’t even own a CD player.

“Why would you buy a CD when you don’t even have a CD player, dummy?!”

I told her I expected to be receiving one soon, so Foxy would be the first CD played on it.

Later, my sister shared her observation with my mother. Mom smiled slyly, saying, “well, he must believe he’s getting a CD player soon.”

I sometimes wonder what would’ve happened if Santa Claus hadn’t already bought and wrapped a CD player for me for Christmas. But this is about what did happen, and what does happen.

***

Some people say don’t burn bridges. 

You never know when you may need that person again. 

You meet the same people on your way down that you passed on the way up. 

It’s always good to have friends to call on.

Though these cliches have their place in life, they’re the exact opposite of what many people need.

I’ve always said there are two specific traits necessary for self-leadership (which comes before leadership of anything or anyone else): Decision-making and Action-taking.

Decision comes from the word incision, meaning to cut off any other possibilities. When a real decision has been made, by definition, all other options are deleted, never to be returned to.

Having so many options behind you actually hurts your chances of grabbing the potential success in front of you. [shareable cite=”@DreAllDay “]Having options behind you hurts your chances of grabbing opportunity in front of you.[/shareable]

Here are 3 strategies to burn the bridges of your past, all but guaranteeing you’ll make it moving forward.

1) When setting new standards, eliminate the possibility of ever going back. When Hernan Cortes wanted to conquer what is now Mexico, he realized the real problem for his soldiers weren’t the Aztec warriors they would have to defeat. The problem was, Cortes’ soldiers knew they had the option of not fighting at all, and sailing back to safety in Spain.

At night, Cortes ordered his fleet of ships sunk (they didn’t actually set fire to anything, but “burn the boats” sounds better). In the morning, Cortes told his men they now had no other option but to fight for their lives.

They won.

2) Bet on yourself. I heard an entrepreneur tell a story about how he left his job once he’d started a new business. Against the customary practice, he gave his boss only a 2-day notice of his resignation.

The boss was taken aback. “Wow man, you’re only going to give me two DAYS to plan for replacing you?!”

The storyteller clarified to his boss. “Oh – I didn’t mean ‘two days’ notice. I’m leaving TO-DAY.”

At some point in life (maybe many points), you’ll have to push all your chips into the middle of the table. You cannot win big if you refuse to bet big.

3) Stop playing scared. In the 8th grade, my friend Brandon gave me the best advice I’ve ever received to this very day. Brandon was the best basketball player in our middle school; I was a bum player who often didn’t get picked in lunchtime pickup games. We were headed to different high schools, and I asked Brandon what I could do to become a better basketball player. [shareable cite=”@DreAllDay “]Stop playing scared. [/shareable]

His first piece of advice – stop playing scared –  applied perfectly to me and anyone who plans to make things happen.

(Brandon’s second piece of advice, by the way, became the title of my first book.)

When you’re afraid of falling short, it’s because you know you can always turn around and go back. You know there’s a safety net below you. You know someone will catch you if you fall.

But when there’s no safety and comfort to fall back on, paradoxically, you’ll feel a lot less fear. You’re less hesitant to move because you know you can’t possibly be wrong.

You can only make a “mistake” when there are multiple options to choose from. When there is only one choice, you can’t be wrong.

When you have no choice but to succeed and survive, you will. Here’s how I know: you’ve managed to survive all these years to be here now.

***

The boats behind you represent your past. They are where you’ve already been, levels you’ve already achieved. The boats represent safety, comfort and familiarity. As humans, we’re wired to long for the security of the boats.

But there comes a time when you have to look in the mirror and challenge yourself. Create a pressure situation where one doesn’t exist. A time you decide to make yourself ready, so you’ll never need to get ready.

Sink your boats. As Kobe Bryant said of surviving his rookie season in the NBA, “Sink or swim, baby. Sink or swim.”

Need to develop more of this Confidence and Mental Fortitude? Bulletproof Mindset is for you. 

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