I'm trying to keep my business, my triplets, and my waistline under control. I excel at one of those, fail at another one of those, and one is a work in progress. Which is which is day dependant.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

Burn The Boats

I had a lengthy chat today with a business coach - I've mentioned him on this blog before, and I think as interesting tid-bits come to light I might continue to share them - all about burning the boats. Now apparently this expression is attributed to various cultures from the Spanish to the Ancient Greeks and beyond, but here's the basic premise: Make a decision, and then make it impossible for you to go back from where you have come.

In the case of our mythical explorers, the legend is they sail to the shores of their enemies, and on arrival the leader cries, "Burn the boats!" thus signalling that either they were going to win the battle or die trying. Really, it's all about signalling their intent, both to the enemy and to themselves. One of the issues we spoke about today was that I am not spending enough time burning the boats. I'm making decisions and then thinking and re-thinking and then going back a little ways and then giving up (just for a while) and then starting again (for a while.) At no stage am I burning the boats and just moving forward with things, and this reluctance to just commit to a course of action is doing me (and thus the biz) more harm than good. Without the willingness to move forward in a significant way, there is just NO way to move forward in the first place. This doesn't mean you act with haste, without thought or without research. It just means that once you have arrived at the decision (and recognising that you have arrived is in itself hard to do), you then MOVE FORWARD without looking back.

Thinking back over the course of my life, there were many times when I did not burn the boats. For whatever reason, burning them was too big a step, too scary a step, too much like hard work and far too much like getting rid of my safety net (which is exactly the point of it.) It's not hard to come up with examples...like all the times I lost weight but kept my fat clothes in the closet. Or left the phone numbers of people I hate in my mobile phone. Or stayed in a job for too many years because it was easier to stay than to go and question the status quo. Or said something like, "I'm not fussed, YOU decide," when really I was fussed. I'm sure all of this is sounding pretty familiar, isn't it? We are a world of wafflers.

So you can call it what you like - burn the boats, cut the cord, rip off the band-aid, cut loose, 'never look back' -but either way it all boils down to the same thing. Stop the bloody flapping around and GET GOING.

Which boats will you burn this week?

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