The historical account of Spanish conquistador Hernán Cortés presumably ordering his men to destroy the ships upon which they had sailed to the New World soon after their arrival is an account that can be very powerfully paralleled to the aspiring entrepreneur.
While Erin Palmer recounted her experience in building LDS Travel Youth from the ground up with her husband and growing family, she knit an overarching theme of commitment. Commitment to evaluate, plan, and execute our entrepreneurial goals; commitment to give it enough time before we give up; and even commitment to keep trying when we fail. Moreover, as Erin stated, we should “commit to showing up… for one year…” because “so many people give up before they hit the tipping point of success.”
That is exactly what is meant when alluding to the story of the Spanish conquistadors burning their boats. To burn your boats doesn’t simply mean there’s no going back, but rather it’s a psychological commitment to believing in ourselves and our ability to accomplish that which we have set out to do. As Erin put it, “we had to learn that the fire and the fuel for our dream had to come from us…”
That implies that burning our boats means fearlessly facing what’s before us by tackling one hurdle at a time, even if it means we’re faking it until we’re making it. It also means committing to not look back or focus on “what could have been,” but rather having our eyes set on the reward ahead and focusing on “what could be.”
To go even further with the analogy you can imagine the amount of risk these Spanish conquistadors were taking upon their lives to move forward with their plan. I mean think about what they were sacrificing and giving up, how they faced the uncertainty of never returning to their previous lives, and even putting their very own lives at stake. In many ways, each of these things can be paralleled to the risks we take upon ourselves when considering to pursue a business idea or passion project.
Kimball and Erin had to think many things through before deciding to be all in, but in the end they decided to just go for it. Just like Erin clearly and concisely put it, “the only difference between a good idea and a good business, is that the person with the business decided to do something… they started… they went for it!”
Despite the hardships Kimball and Erin continually face in the process of living their dreams since “each stage of your business will give you challenges” it's the feeling of doing something meaningful and creating value in the lives around them that keeps them going. They have decided to embrace a lifestyle that includes continually “leaning into the HARD because the HARD is where the magic happens.”
Entrepreneurship is indeed very hard, and remembering that living your dream will always require hard work is an essential piece to adopting the mindset of a Spanish conquistador. It’s a mindset that leads to success and accomplishing our goals. And though we may not always end up where we intended, there’s nothing that can replace the experience gained along the journey of materializing our ambitions.
In the end, it’s really the remembrance of how far we’ve come that keeps us going beyond what we previously believed to be our limits. Burning our ships then becomes second nature, and this is what enables us to truly succeed, “give back in a meaningful way,” and even change the world.