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In the year 1519, Hernan Cortes landed in what is now called Mexico, with six hundred men, in hopes to overthrow the Aztecs and take hold of their vast treasures of gold and silver if they won.

Upon arrival, Hernan made history by quite literally destroying his own ships.

Now this sounds crazy, right!? Why would he do that?

One fundamental reason…

To send a clear message to his men:

There is no turning back.

Cortes’s army had no way of retreating.

No way to getting back home if things didn’t go their way.

This army was either going to be successful or go down fighting.

It was that simple.

The idea of having no other option forced the army into a determined mindset that was so motivating that it was, well, genius!

The troops wanted to return home safe to their family, and the only way that this was going to happen would be from winning every battle they faced over the coming two years.

After two years, burning the ships had paid off! They won their war – and now this concept is used simply as an example of how people can do extraordinary things when they commit and remove the easy exit strategies.

Now, we’re obviously long past the days of conquistadors, but the story of burning the ships is as relevant today as ever.

I bet you’re already thinking of some aspect of your trade business that needs attention right now, you know, that needs your leadership!

And here's another note, if you leave the ships in the harbour, your team will see that you’re not fully committing to the transition needed.

Because if you’re not fully committed, why should they be?

Burning the ships removes any available path back to the previous way, and in doing so your team will become as fully committed as you obviously are.

But let’s even just forget about teams for a moment... This applies directly to you as well!

Stop giving yourself an 'out' and try committing!

Burning your ships doesn’t mean you can’t ever change course or decide that a current pursuit is not working.

But no change process ever has a chance of working if you continue to have a fall back 'off-ramp'.

Where can you burn ships in your business, or in your life? Look inside yourself and see where you’re having a hard time committing. Is it because the ships are still in the harbour?

Try forcing commitment.

Too often we get scared when the going gets tough.

Too often we have a get out of jail free card.

The “we could just leave it/not start it at all” mindset is the first of our doubts that come creeping in.

Within no time you'll have listened to your doubts and fears such that the great conquest at hand becomes something that never gets off the ground.

Barriers in business appear every day.

Those trade businesses that let go of the fear and navigate through the obstacles, rather than turning back, are the ones that should endure the test of time.

Yes, there are other external factors that will always be in play but the big one is grit and determination...

How determined are you to make the business succeed? Who have you employed to help the business succeed? Have you stopped hedging your bets and giving yourself an out? Have you burnt all of your ships?

If you have something that you want to make work then try getting rid of the excuses, the plan B’s and anything else that you can fall back on.

Then, and only then, will there be no other way than to move forward.

If you're an electrician, plumber, painter, carpenter, or any other trade business owner who is looking to take your business to the next levelclick here to learn more about how our team can help!


Bayley Peachey | Accountant & Trade Business Coach

About the author

Growing up in a family full of tradesman and accountants with a business savvy father, my childhood involved heavy machinery, dirty overalls and years of hand’s on insight into the family business. Being fast paced and dynamic in...


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