Photo of Napolean Hill

“A long while ago, a great warrior had to make a decision which insured his success on the battlefield. He was about to send his armies against a powerful foe, whose men outnumbered his own. He loaded his soldiers into boats, sailed to the enemy’s country, unloaded soldiers and equipment, then gave the order to burn the ships that had carried them. Addressing his men before the first battle, he said, ‘You see the boats going up in smoke. That means that we cannot leave these shores alive unless we win! We now have no choice – we win, or we perish!’ They won. Every person who wins in any undertaking must be willing to burn his ships and cut all sources of retreat. Only by so doing can one be sure of maintaining that state of mind known as a burning desire to win, essential to success.”

While I sought to become a better Marketing Manager in 2015, I looked to Georgian College for new skills. Given that I was in my forties, I could or should have attempted to take my classes on a part-time basis. After all, I had a mortgage, family and financial obligations. When I read this passage, it was one of the most persuasive paragraphs I have ever read, and it literally changed my life.

Burning my boats for a better life

Instead of opting for the path of least resistance, I chose to “burn my boats” as I knew any other path would detract from effort and focus, and would allow me to talk myself out of the commitment to grow. I quit my job, told my family the road may be bumpy, secured start-up capital and started my own company. Two years later, I proudly walked across the stage of the #georgiancollege convocation ceremonies to accept my diplomas, twice in two consecutive days. I graduated in the short two years with a Computer Programming and an Advertising and Marketing Communications diploma. Also, I was the proud owner of a modestly successful website design company as well. Instead of going back to what I knew, I moved into teaching. Today I am proudly a Professor at the very same college from which I graduated.

Live as if you are going to die tomorrow, learn as if you will live forever  (Mahatma Gandhi)

After taking on the next challenge of my life, I chose to pursue a continuing aspiration of lifelong learning and sought out my Master of Business Administration degree. In a little over two years (in the middle of a global pandemic), I was able to add three letters after my name. From here, I begin to look toward the next chapter of my life, to obtain my Ph.D.

The moral

As ironic as it may appear, burning my boats made way for a better life but also saved me. I am not saying that this is the solution for everyone, but the “do it, or else” mindset can really push people to incredible heights. Look around your life and see where you are not “all in” and consider pushing all of your chips to the middle of the table. You may just find the dream you always hoped for on the other side. 

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