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/