Burning Boats… Got A Match?
John Jantsch (of Duct Tape Marketing fame) recently posted a blog entry about how it’s sometimes necessary to “burn your boats” in order to force yourself into forward motion.
The concept is borrowed from a legend about a great military leader who landed his ships on an enemy shore and demonstrated to his troops that retreat was not an option by destroying their only avenue of escape. The actual attribution varies — some say it was Alexander the Great, some say Cortez, some say Napolean, and some insist all ancient Greek generals used this technique — but who may (or may not) have practiced this technique is unimportant in applying it to your own situation. John suggests using this method in order to spur yourself forward in creating products, writing books, developing business seminars, etc.
I was recently on the other end of this equation while trying to complete a recent project with co-author Jon Petz on Boring Meetings Suck. We’d progressed to a certain point in completing the book and simply seemed to stall. To stay with the boats analogy, we’d run ashore and couldn’t get unstuck and wouldn’t get off the ship.
A friend finally saw a way to help us get re-motivated by setting the S.S. BMS ship afire. He found a opportunity for Jon to present at a seminar and distribute copies of our book to the audience. With the seminar only a month or two away, we needed to move forward at a rapid pace in order to complete the project and still be able to have the books printed in time for the presentation date.
Burning your boats is a great technique to use on yourself, but sometimes the biggest favor you can do for a colleague is to lend them a match.