The Problem with Burning the Boats

How to go all-in while still being prudent.

September 22, 2021

“Burn the boats” is a common phrase in the coaching world. It comes from the story of conquistador Hernán Cortés burning his ships in order to prevent his men from abandoning their quest to conquer Mexico. The idea is that once you make a decision, you go all in and never look back.

Sounds inspiring, right? But here’s the catch: “Burning the boats” isn’t always a prudent decision. In this episode we’ll teach you how to decide whether to “burn the boats” when it comes to your personal growth.


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Reader Interactions


  1. Jim Hennessy says

    Other than people who need to give up drugs, alcohol and other noxious behaviors, burning the boats (or burning the bridges behind you) sounds like a poor idea in most cases. I left the New York City Police Department in order to practice law. I had a leave of absence of 13 months but let it go by. However, had I had more time I would have returned to the NYPD because I found out that I liked helping people in the South Bronx a great deal more than practicing law. In addition, I have read that Narcissists burn their bridges to other people because they are all that matters. Thank you for the podcast.

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