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Burn the Ships: How Letting Things Go Launches You Forward

In 1519, Hernan Cortez and his men were completely outnumbered. 

He needed a strategy. He loaded all his men and their equipment onto his boats, sailed into enemy country, and then unloaded. Then he gave his soldiers these orders:

“Burn the ships.”


Everyone could see the ships going up in smoke. They had no backup plan. They had no way of leaving the shores. They would win or they would perish. 

Cortez was the first man in 600 years to successfully conquer Mexico. 

He burned the ships to show his men what he was willing to sacrifice to win.


So here’s my question for you:

What ships do you need to burn in your life? 

Elevation requires separation. If you want something better for your life, you’re going to have to let go of some things. It could be people, circumstances, habits, thoughts, your job… it could be a multitude of things. 


But whatever you’re not changing is what you’re choosing. 

Since we’ve moved out to the country, I’ve had less access to the gym. I could keep using that as an excuse, or I could actually commit to getting healthy so I can be here for the long haul. 

The ships I’m burning are thoughts like: “I don’t need to get healthy,” “I don’t have gym access,” or “I don’t have time.” 

I always ask my coaching clients: How committed are you to your vision?

Getting the life that you want, where everything feels aligned, is not always easy. It might be hard. You might struggle. You might have to pivot. You’re probably going to fall and skin your knee at some point. 

Are you going to keep going in spite of that? 

Most of the world is sitting at their desk waiting for life to happen to them. They’re waiting on somebody to offer them something different. They’re waiting for the right time, the right circumstances, or the right amount of money. 

But the point is they’re waiting. 

You are not “most of the world.” You are the small percentage of people who have a vision for their life and who are taking action. 


So here are some questions to ask yourself if you’re ready to stop waiting and start getting more out of life: 

  1. What is your vision for your life? 
  2. How committed are you to making that happen? 
  3. What actions or steps do you need to take?
  4. What habits need to drop away?
  5. What is not working and needs to change? 


Every single time you burn a ship in your life, that is evidence to your brain and to the world that you are a badass, and you’re not quitting

Mel Robbins says, “I don’t understand why everyone is afraid of failing when it hurts so much more to miss out on everything that you dream of because you lack the courage to try.” 

Let’s start small. When we start talking about change, it starts to feel huge. The end point seems really far away, so let's start small. 


What is the small ship you are going to start burning this week? 

Tag me on social media (@eringerner) and tell me what small things are you are changing or giving up. 


Cheering for you, friend. 


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