Burn your Ship

The story Hernán Cortéz is often cited by many as an act of bravery and courage. 

He left on an expedition to South America and upon arrival at Mexico, the first thing that he did was to ask his crew to burn the ships. There was going to be only one way out – Victory! Once they burnt the ships, they had to win at all costs. They could beat the Mexicans or die trying. The reason this story is referred to as a tale of courage is because they won! Had they died trying, it would have been a tale of human stupidity. 

Investors love to talk about entrepreneurs who do NOT believe in having a Plan B. Those who have 100% faith in their mission and are willing to go down fighting for it. I would like such investors to take their own advice and invest ALL of their monies in that one founder and show the willingness to burn the ship themselves. Why diversify?

Going back to Señor Hernán Cortéz. He was quite the womaniser who liked to maintain relationships with the wives of other men. He routinely lived beyond his means and had run up a huge debt in Spain. He set off for Mexico with a loan and would have rather committed suicide along the way than to return to Spain empty-handed. If he had gone back to Spain with nothing, his creditors would have had him thrown in jail. 

If you have any clue about what the Spaniards did to the natives of South America, you would understand why Cortéz wanted to avoid prison in Spain at all costs. He burnt his ship not because he was courageous; he burnt it because he was a coward and did not wish to face consequences back in Spain.

Smart people have a Plan B, just in case Plan A does not work out. You should not be driven to suicide if your plans don’t work out. 






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