Burning Your Ships Behind You

Napoleon Hill in "Think and Grow Rich" wrote of a General who burned the ships of the army he had transported to enemy shores as a way of demonstrating they had no choice but to move forward and win the day, or else suffer the consequences.  The army goes on to victory.

Great story… 

And completely misunderstood.

This is not a story about success.  Burning the ships did not GUARANTEE success.  Success was just a potential outcome.  The story does however demonstrate a deeper understanding of effective goal setting and poses a solution to a very common problem.  That problem is the second main source of failure in achievement I spoke of last time: A lack of faith in yourself to see your goal to its conclusion.  It comes from setting up goals incorrectly from the very beginning, laying the seed of failure before you’ve even started.


What do I mean?

Let’s touch on the first two of four goal setting issues, Desire and Expectation.


It sounds funny to ask, but is your goal something YOU really want?  Not your spouse, your neighbors, your boss or even society.  You.
You’d be surprised how many people work toward a goal they don’t even deeply want.  The bigger house.  The nicer car.  A certain look or performance for their body.  All are great goals if they are truly your goal.

But dig deep and you’ll find people are being influenced by desires and expectations from outside what is in their own heart.  Putting more concern in what others think about them rather than what they think about themselves.  What is that about?  Don’t you and your desires matter just as much as someone elses?  This should be all about listening to your own heart and finding your own voice right?  Here’s something else to consider too.  The goal is likely too small a goal for you.  All this struggle toward too small a desire, suffering from what I call E.D. ( um, expectation deficiency, what did you think I meant? )  🙂


I’m sure you can point to an entire life history of goal near misses and failure.  So you’ve got this great goal, something you truly and secretly desire right?  But you certainly don’t want a repeat performance of failure huh?  How is that usually handled?  You usually create a smaller goal, something that sounds reasonable.  But it doesn’t FEEL better does it?  Feels like you’re shortchanging yourself, not respecting yourself.  Feels that way because it’s true, you aren’t.  You’ve given up and worse yet, deep down you’ve given up on yourself.  Who in the world wants to feel like that?  No wonder low expectations are the death to any goal right from the start because when it gets challenging (and it will) since this small goal wasn’t what your really wanted it’s now easy to justify giving up.  And you can beat yourself up even more.

Just great.  Haven’t you had enough of that yet?  Drop the stick already.  You’re more than capable of tackling what you truly want and it’s time to stop punishing yourself.
You don’t have to prove or justify yourself anymore.  Remember that the next time you try to squeeze too small a goal into too big a life.  You’re capable of so much more than you’re allowing.

Our next conversation will tackle those final two goal setting issues of effort and time; Ow, I think I pulled my Goal Muscle.

Until next time – Strength and Honor

Photo credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/miro-foto/1753185752/

Failure to Launch

Have you ever wondered why most (if not all) of the goals you’ve set for yourself aren’t happening?  Why months and years pass without any improvement or achievement?

Because, and stay with me a moment on this… you’ve given yourself permission to fail.  That’s right, from the start of the desire you’ve already determined a point where you’ll give up.  Call it quits.  It’s happened so much you’ve likely developed a higher expectation of failure than you have for success.  And this expectation is delivering nothing but an endless cycle of defeat and disappointment.

sad_loser Disappointment in yourself.

Man, that sure isn’t a fun or exciting way to live your life now is it?  Having such low expectations for yourself.  Wondering when it’s all going to fall apart?  It’s probably gotten to the point you don’t even both working toward anything.  Just existing.

Don’t you think it’s about time you stopped that cycle?  Maybe start entertaining the idea you can actually achieve something?

Look for a moment at the four main sources of failure:

  1. The deep down belief that what you want is unobtainable for you.
  2. A lack of faith in yourself to see things to their conclusion.
  3. What you want is going to take too much effort from you.
  4. Your belief that past failure will just keep occurring.

And because you believe that (one, some or all four) are true for you, you’ve already determined, before you’ve even taken one step toward your goal that you’ll fail.

But do you realize that every one of those four is based on a belief?  And a belief can be changed.

Must be changed.

Right now in fact.  Make the decision right now that you’re going to find a new belief about yourself.  Because until you determine to develop a new, more successful belief about yourself, a lot of what you’re trying to make happen will still remain just a dream and continue to reinforce the low opinion you have of yourself.

Let’s tackle that first belief…

You and only you have accepted the idea that you can’t have what you want.  Whether it’s issues of ‘worthiness’ or the large gap between where you are and where you want to be, it is you who’ve determined you can’t have it.  Not the voices from your childhood.  Not your peers and friends around you today.  Not the seeming endless pattern of past failure.  Not the seeming insurmountable distance between you and your desires.


Because you’ve either accepted all the crap that these ‘ well meaning ‘ people have laid on you, based on their own fears, low expectations and unworthiness.

Or you’ve convinced yourself that it’s too great a distance, too hard a goal and you’re not going to even bother taking more than a token step toward its achievement.  It’s just not meant to be.

Well, flipping bull crap!  Don’t you think it’s about time you grew up and started thinking for yourself?  Don’t you think, even for a moment, that the very idea that you have this goal ALONE makes it worthy of you?  This isn’t about you being worthy of the goal.

It is the goal worthy of you!

It’s time you dump all this “I’m not worthy” crap into the trash where it belongs.  And it’s not because you’re somehow special or entitled.  It’s because WE ALL ARE.

So start here, right now, with that first belief system.  Make the decision to kick it out of your life.  While there will still be people who don’t support you,  ample evidence of the challenges ahead and more than enough concern that’s it’s too big a goal, at least START with the expectation that this time will be different.

This time, no matter how far you have to go, you will dream again.  Find a goal worthy of you.  Accept it as possible (I didn’t say achievable or probable, I said possible), and finally hold on to the determination to see it through.

And that my friends, is the subject of our next conversation; Determination: Burning your ships behind you.

Until next time – Strength and Honor.

Image credit: http://www.flickr.com/photos/steveweaver/457997497/