Hernando Cortez made the phrase “burn the boats” famous in 1519 when he ordered his men to burn their ships before conquering the Aztec empire. Without the means to escape, troops had just one choice: Stay, fight and conquer. And conquer they did! His 500 soldiers defeated an army of 1,400. Talk about getting full commitment and focus from your team!
I’m guilty of letting distractions interfere with my vision. About year ago, I transformed my business focus from consultant to advisor/coach. This is my true passion, and I’m enjoying the journey. But I’m occasionally tempted to go back to the familiar work of consulting. In other words, I haven’t burned all my boats!
I recently took on a consulting project. No harm, right? It’s just one project. But what about the next consulting opportunity that comes my way… and the next? They can eventually become distractions, disguised as opportunities.
On the other hand, I met a young entrepreneur last year who had a vision, started a company, and can teach us all something about burning boats. His name is Zack Kline of A.I.R. Lawn Care.
It all started when Zack won a business-plan competition during his junior year of college. He used the $5,000 cash prize as seed capital to launch his business – a “green” landscaping company that uses all battery-powered, eco-friendly equipment. He began to build connections and strategic alliances, all while working full-time in other non-related jobs such as software sales and payroll services. He wasn’t burning boats yet, but he was definitely burning candles at both ends!
Then, in March of 2013, Zack burned his last boat by gracefully resigning from his job and committing to his new business. As Zack explains, “There’s a lot of excitement for it. Yeah, going into business for myself is a little nerve-wracking, because I don’t have that consistent paycheck. Entrepreneurs have to figure out how to be as resourceful as possible.”
Zack continues to make great headway in his business, which he could not have done without cutting himself loose from his “real” job and fully committing to his new company.
Do you have boats to burn? If so, I suggest doing it with gusto. With Independence Day just around the corner, now is the perfect time to let go of the past!
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