Burn the boats

The original burn the boats

In 1519, Hernán Cortés led 600 Spaniards along with horses and eleven boats into Mexico on a large expedition to conquer the land. Upon arrival, the commander turned to his men and stated, “Burn the ships”. At this point, there was no turning back. We have come to use “burn the boats.” Regardless, the mission was forward or die.

Failure is not an option

Fast forward to April of 1970 and the Apollo 13 space mission. Gene Krantz was attributed to saying, “Failure is not an option.” While this was the main point in the movie Apollo 13, Krantz didn’t say that phrase. Instead, it was one of the scriptwriters for the movie who wanted to use it as a tagline. Whether movie or real life, again, the mission was forward or die.

Go west young man

Fast forward one more time to May 31, 2019, the concepts of forward or die, rang true to my heart. My family and I had spent the past nine months preparing for a true “burn the ships” moment. My two oldest children were out on their own and living their lives. The youngest still with my wife and I. And on June 1st, we rolled out with a moving truck with a loaded Jeep in tow and what would fit in the back of my wife’s pickup. We were officially homeless.

We stayed in a local hotel in Atlanta for the next two nights because my youngest daughter had a dance recital that she was working as a stage manager. Her finale, so to speak. It was weird but, we were still in Atlanta so it hadn’t hit…yet.

On Sunday, June 2nd we started heading west. Again, homeless. The goal was the Rocky Mountains of Montana. I had always wanted to live in the Rockies and Montana was the place I had read about so much as a child. Despite your thoughts, Missoula was the destination for now.

When starting the first day, a trip that would have only taken 2 hours normally, took us 4 hours from Atlanta to Chattanooga due to construction and traffic. At one point, my wife called my phone and asked, “Are you sure we are supposed to be doing this?”. I grinned and pulled towards the safety cones on the left. And I asked her to read the writing on the RV in front of me. There, in big capital letters, was the single word of inspiration. MONTANA.

She ended the call on a positive note. But this would not have been the only obstacle we would face. Two breakdowns and a blown tire would be just a portion of what we were dealing with. Hotels, the two dogs we brought along, and the added stress of not knowing where to stay, much less the future.

Ultimately we arrived. A day later than expected, despite the timeline, because I still had a job. We checked into an extended stay hotel and started calling around for a place to store our stuff until we could find a place to live. And we did find a beautiful little place to rent along the Blackfoot River.

Will the dream die within you or will you burn the boats

Why do I share these stories? Ultimately there are some things that may be holding you back from living out your destiny or dream. They may be larger or smaller in comparison to the above adventures. Regardless, they can be overcome. With planning and the dream in your heart, the vision you see can be a reality.

While that may sound like a lot of fluff or BS, it could be as simple as a book like Primal Method which Ian Talbert is writing now. It could be just creating and publishing content on a YouTube channel. Or it may be moving locations to make things happen. Regardless, take the step. Make it happen. Inspire others with the reality of your dream.

A mentor of mine asked me once, “Will you die with a dream in your heart, or a book unwritten, or will you make it happen at all costs?”. It was then I was saying burn the boats. However, it would not come into play until years later and unfortunately after his death.


Take action; light the match

Without sounding like an old Southern Baptist preacher. Friends, don’t let the dreams die. Get with your significant other and plan for both of your dreams. See how they fit together. What changes have to be adjusted as opposed to going through the motions. Then make it happen. The reality is you might not know how to make it happen. Reach out to someone who can guide you or listen to your ideas. OR you can join Operation Optimize which, will help you get your life in order to actually make it happen. 

But at the moment you decide to live your dream, BURN THE BOATS. Move forward or die.

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Bill Reese

Author Bill Reese

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