Know Retreat, Know Surrender

Are you a Plan B person? When I interact with the variety of people I meet in my coaching career, it becomes more and more obvious how much "plan b’s" interfere with growth and success.

You may have heard the old adage, "No Retreat, No Surrender." It's more important than ever that we apply these principles on a daily basis -- especially when it comes to achieving our dreams.

I love the story of Captain Hernan Cortez and what happened during one of his great conquests.

Important note: I'm a fan of the story, but I sure as hell don't support what the conquests entailed (for obvious reasons). That doesn't mean that we can't extract some hard-won lessons from them.

So here's how the story goes, on most accounts:

When Hernan Cortez and his crew arrived in Veracruz, he began to notice his troops growing weary and perhaps considering a retreat. Their task was daunting; they were outnumbered, their supplies were low and they were well-worn (for lack of a better phrase).

In other words, the odds were absolutely not in their favor.

But Cortez was dead set on accomplishing his mission. They would either succeed in their mission or die trying. Cortez had a brilliant (or desperate) idea: he asked his men to burn their own ships.

He figured if they burned the ships, they’d have no other option but to conquer. That's one way to do it.

I’m a firm believer in having a Plan A -- nothing more. Despite its counter-intuitive nature, I would have agreed with Cortez’ decision to burn the ships as well.


When I’m presenting a speech, I often ask how many Plan B people are in the audience.

The plan B illusion of a safety net can be the most debilitating and dream crushing thing you can build up for yourself when in pursuit of your dreams. Plan B’s are like prenuptial agreements -- a precursor to failure.

I was in title for 28 years and loved every minute of it. Then, a mission trip and a coaching certification program at the University of Miami helped me see how much more I loved philanthropy and coaching than I’d even loved title. I jumped head first and all in to a new life that was like nothing I could have imagined.

For anyone who knows about holding licenses in Florida, every two years you have to do continuing education to renew. Naturally, my time came up and I was receiving CE offers every 12 minutes.

I received letter after letter with offers for CE credit courses. When I received an urgent one claiming it was my last opportunity to renew my license or it would expire, my husband said, "Hey, did you know your title license is going to expire?"

"Yes," I responded.

Everyone warned me about not letting it go - that I’d had it for so long and it wasn’t worth letting go.

I heard them all. I appreciated them all. But I was set on NOT having a safety net. I could not afford to have anything to fall back on. I was going to succeed in my coaching career or I was going to succeed in my coaching career.

Failure was not an option. Optionswere not an option. It was a tremendous gift to myself. Having a 'do it or die trying' attitude forced me into a space of performing. I got to work, I did what I had to do, and most importantly, I was laser focused on succeeding. Failure was not an option. I’d burned the ships, so success was inevitable.

Let’s look into this: Evaluate what it is you want to accomplish. I'm sure you have a laundry-list of goals you want to accomplish. And if you've got that, chances are you've got the metrics and smaller tasks to stay on track with them.

If you don't have goals (or metrics), we need to talk... this is important. Look into what might be standing in your way. I’m not talking about obstacles; I'm talking about safety nets.

The obstacles are obvious, but the safety nets are subtle. Consider that committing to success, requires the removal of safety nets before overcoming obstacles.

Explore what is creating the need for that illusion of safety. Do you have any doubts about your ability to achieve your goals? If you do, they’re not real.

Do you have any fears around your ability to achieve your goals? That’s ego, don’t buy into them.

Whatever you do, make some goals and pull the rug out from under yourself. You'll be amazed by your resourcefulness when you know there's nothing there to catch you.

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