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Do you have a backup plan?
When I left Google in June of 2012, I didn’t. I only knew one thing: it was my destiny to become an entrepreneur and the time had come. It’s quite a frightening exhilaration. If you’re an entrepreneur now, you remember the raw emotions that stir inside you the day it becomes official.
Focus on a Single Outcome
In 1519, Hernán Cortés, a Spanish conquistador, famously ordered burning the boats as his troops prepared for the impossible conquest of the Aztec Empire. Well, this may be false. Some sources, like Matthew Restall’s Seven Myths of the Spanish Conquest indicate he scuttled (sunk) the ships to prevent a mutiny. Nevertheless, it’s still a story that makes for a great analogy in this article.
As actor Will Smith explained in an inspiring interview, having a Plan B only distracts from pursuing Plan A. In my case, I “burned the boats” by creating a mission and brand around my number one value: a Freedom Lifestyle. Many would say this is foolish, which is okay because I’m not speaking to them.
You, the entrepreneur, solopreneur or wantrepreneur, may feel a similar drive in your life. Having a mission and creating that leverage is critical.
The Repercussions of Your Lifelines
Although unconventional, burning your bridges provides laser focus. Your outcome becomes more clear, and you’ll have less distractions. Giving yourself options may seem like an effective risk mitigation strategy, but it will only hurt you. A person with a backup plan is likely to use it, which results in settling for far less than what they desire.
A backup plan is the sum of all your worries, fears, and disaster scenarios muddled together into one half-hearted outcome. If you don’t burn the bridges, your focus will habitually (and unconsciously) shift toward the obstacles.
The Proof All Around
Who are your role models? What success stories do you identify with most? A simple examination will likely result in a few common characteristics:
High standards and an insatiable thirst for growth and knowledge.
Unwavering confidence in achieving their desires – to the point that it becomes part of the identity.
Commitment to creating value for others and contributing beyond themselves.
How to Burn Your Bridges without Burning Yourself
The idea here is not a careless abandonment of your connections and past. Burning bridges is a form of “inevitability thinking.” By creating intentional shifts in your mindset and choices, taking action toward your goal becomes inevitable. And so does success itself.
1. Identify Your Ultimate Outcome or Desire
Define this goal in a crystal-clear fashion and be sure there’s a strong underlying “why” behind the desired outcome. My ultimate outcome is to give people the skills, knowledge and confidence they need to become successful online solopreneurs and live a Freedom Lifestyle.
2. List All Your Worries
Write down all the various disaster scenarios, fears, worries, and backup plans you can think of. Spend time on this. When you’re finished toss the paper or trash the document. Better yet, burn the paper (carefully, please).
3. Define the First Action Step
Specify the initial step to take toward the goal. Imagine a line of dominoes all leading toward the result. If there were one massive domino at the front that could set the whole process in motion, what would it look like?
For me, the first powerful step was starting a blog and publishing the first post. That led to consulting, mentoring, creating products, building this community, speaking and now writing pieces like this for you.
4. Prepare for the Struggle
Entrepreneurship is not always glamorous and there will be dark days. It is one step beyond these dark days that you’ll find the lesson and success. Persistence is everything.
5. Celebrate Small Wins and Get Around Winners
You must learn to celebrate small wins and find other winners to be influenced by. As Tony Robbins says, “proximity is power”. The fastest way to grow is by spending time with people that are already where you want to be.
Do you agree with this approach? What’s your ultimate outcome?
Photo credit: Bridges Burning — CC license