Burning the Ships
Posted on March 20, 2014
Recently I read a story about the Spanish Conquistador, Hernán Cortés, who led an expedition that caused the fall of the Aztec Empire. Cortes led the expedition with a small team of ships. Stories of his expedition claim that when he landed, he burned all but one of the ships so that nobody could go back. Nobody could talk about leaving, nobody could think about leaving. They team had to be committed to what they were doing whether they believed in it or not. They didn’t have a choice.
Now there are many leadership lessons that I could glean from this historical person, however, the one that I would like to focus on is the one of commitment.
I know that many of you might have heard about he difference between a pig and the chicken when it comes to a breakfast of bacon and eggs. You see while the chicken contributed to the meal, the pig committed his life to it.
More and more I find that team members are happy to contribute to the goal; however, they also want to keep a parachute just in case of failure. As leaders we need to be able to be able to build a team with members that have complete buy in, members that are completely committed to the goal.
It would be nice for this to be about the team, however, this is not a blog about “Team Member Lab”, it is about leadership. To be a successful leader, the team needs to see the complete buy in by us. If a leader has part of their focus on the future and part of their focus on the past, then it becomes impossible to place all of the energy in going forward.
Back to our Spanish Conquistador, if there was one thing that the team realized from their leader it was that going back was not an option for him. He was all in and because of that; all of their energy was spent on moving forward, conquering new lands.
This week’s experiment is for you to burn the boats that are your safety net to the old way. Commit yourself, and your team, to the future and the new lands that await.