In 1519, Hernán Cortés, a Spanish conquistador, famously ordered burning the boats as his troops prepared for the seemingly impossible conquest of the Aztec Empire. He knew that having a Plan B would prevent his troops from having laser focus and an absolute commitment to the outcome they were moving toward.
When I decided to leave the Houston Police Helicopter Division 20 years ago and start Discover Leadership Training (DLT), I completely burned the bridge with HPD. Flying helicopters for the HPD was my childhood dream. When I decided to move on, I was more in love with flying helicopters than I was on the first day I stepped into the Helicopter Division. I was told during my exit interview that most police officers who leave the department before retirement almost always came back.
Despite my deep love for flying, I knew I had an even greater calling to serve society than working for the HPD. I created my vision for DLT and made a commitment to only move forward. I burned every bridge that led back to the police department. I burned every bridge that led back to the Police Department.
Let me be clear: those first couple of years of forming Discover Leadership Training from the ground up were tough; however, there was never a consideration of retreating.
Leaving the bridge intact in your professional and personal life might seem like a great strategy just in case things don’t work out. However, if that is your attitude, you are demonstrating a lack of commitment to where you are going, a lack of belief that you will get there and a lack of confidence in yourself.
To not burn the bridge means you are focused on everything that could possibly go wrong as you move forward, taking steps in fear and apprehension.
Burning the bridge means you believe that success is imminent. It means that you realize that failure must be an option because when you take the risk of venturing out of your comfort zone, you will fall down a few times. Burning the bridge means you understand that falling down after taking a risk and going for what you want is a gift of authentication. You must realize that failure is not fatal. You may lose a few battles; it does not mean you will lose the war.