The term is widely known, but mostly in the opposite direction. “Don’t burn your bridges” is used often, but let me go back a little bit for those of us that are unfamiliar with the term.
In 1519, Hernan Cortes went into the battlefield, and motivated his men into winning. He was so convinced that they could accomplish the feat that he order the ships to be burned. That meant, that there was only two ways they were going to finish that battle: Victory or death. At the end, they conquered the Aztec Empire, a population of more than 5 million people, with no more than 1,000 soldiers. There is some controversy about the details, but the fact is that Cortes was so determined to win that battle that he knew that failure was not an option, going back was not an option.
Now, if it worked so well for him, why do we sell so much the idea of “don’t burn your bridges”?
I think it is because as humans we tend to play safe, because it is easier, because it doesn’t involve risk, because it doesn’t alter our state of mind, it allows us to sleep at night. I suppose that’s good, but most successful people I know don’t like playing safe, they like the adrenaline rush, that fire burning through their veins when risk is felt. I listen to successful people and they even enjoy not sleeping, having their head around things, and getting up from bed ready to take on the world. They know it’s not easy, but they also know that the rewards are unlimited. I heard Floyd Mayweather saying he gets up at times at 2 am in the morning just to squeeze another run in, because he doesn’t want to leave anything on the table, he doesn’t want to look back after a fight knowing that he could’ve done more. 50 Cent said that when he was not filming his movie he was doing the soundtrack, and when asked when did he sleep he answered “Sleep? I don’t sleep!”. So you tell me, what do you think is better? Playing safe? Or burning bridges?
I guess you never know until you do it. In business they have a different term, they call it “reaching the point of no return”, that is, when you are so compromised financially into something, that you can’t go back. Donald Trump had to go all in when he went broke. He reached the point of no return, and that’s the only way he got back in track. Robert Kiyosaki went all in in his business because he had no choice, and came up high. Javier Hernandez said himself he was ready to quit and decided to give it a last shot, burned his briges, now he plays for Manchester United, arguably the best football club in the world.
I don’t know if this works or not for everybody, but for me it has. When I choose to burn my bridges onto something, I know its game on, I know that now I’m in a position where I can’t go back, I can’t change to option B, I am all in and I must follow through. I must believe in my vision 100%, because when you burn your bridges that’s all you have. It is you and your vision, no one else will understand it, no one else will give a rats ass if you fail, but if you succeed, then you will have glory, then they’ll say, I knew you could do it and if you are committed, you will achieve it. So go find your battle, and burn your bridges, I am here to tell you today that even if you fail, you will feel good about yourself, you will find out who you really are. That feeling will get you up to fight another battle. And when you succeed, you will know that you gave everything you had, because you burned your bridges, you were willing to die in order to win, that’s how bad you wanted it, and you won.
All my best,