Entrepreneur Jesse van der Velde challenges the “burn your boats” philosophy to goal setting and shares his unique experiences of why this approach is actually a hindrance to your business and inner wellbeing. Join Jesse on the Spiritual Game of Business Podcast and explore:
- Do you want to do something that’s truly meaningful instead of trying to find meaning in your actions?
- Are your business choices compensating for something you are searching for within?
For years, I was driven by the need to constantly move forward and advance my business. Without question, I courageously plowed ahead and admittedly saw results from this approach. My business grew and I accomplished many goals of mine – but there came a point when I realized that I lacked a certain freedom underneath all of my ambition. It was then that I realized that I hadn’t given myself a choice; I was burning my boats as a way to respond to something within me that was actually unsettled and unfulfilled.
The Truth Behind “Burn Your Boats”
We all know the old story of the soldiers that burned their boats in the face of their opponents that completely outnumbered them. By burning their boats, they completely eliminated any option of failure: either they defeat the enemy or become defeated.
Many entrepreneurs, myself included, are taught to approach our ambitions with the same mindset: “burn your boats” so that there is no option but to make the plan work. Failure is not an option:
- Set a big goal
- Commit to the outcome
- “Burn your boats” to ensure that there is NO turning back
In a lot of ways, this is an effective approach to achieving certain results and can get you pretty far – but only to a certain point.
The thing is – we don’t live in such a time anymore and there is no need to “burn our boats.” The true battle we’re fighting is not our business or the world around us – the true battle is within ourselves.
“Burning your boats” is merely a way to try to control outcomes and ultimately to control our inner state.
We are so afraid of failure that we desperately find ways to push ourselves to ensure the outcome we need to feel happy.
By burning our boats, we remove the option to fail. Yet by burning our boats, we are actually removing our freedom to make any choice at all!
The only moment that you have a true choice is when you are 100% OK with not doing anything at all.
Having a Choice in Our Business
For years, I had a big dream of a certain software platform that I wanted to build, but I was doing way too many things at the same time. I was acting from, “There’s no way back,” and was even burning my own boats by spending money before I had earned it to further drive my success.
This admittedly worked for some time and I did find success, but what became clear to me is that I no longer had freedom within myself. I had become a slave to my business and investments – I had even become a slave of my own ambition.
We admire the person who is willing to go all-in and take all of these risks. This is a celebrated quality of our Western culture and we often admire the people who embody these ideals.
Essentially, we admire the person who is willing to do what we don’t dare to do. But the question is: at what cost?
Do you just want to be successful?
Or do you want to be happy and enjoy the synchronicities of life?
Do you want to enjoy nature?
Do you want to be informed by nature?
Do you want to have the ability to look within?
Do you want to heal?
Do you want to explore the big questions: “Who am I?” and “Why am I here?”
Applying This to Your Business
Do you want to do something that’s truly meaningful instead of trying to find meaning in your actions?
Let’s say that you decide to donate a portion of your business’ revenue money to a charity. This is certainly an important goal and worth supporting, there is no doubt about that. But the key point here is to first stop and ask yourself:
“Why am I doing this? Why am I donating money to charity?”
For many people, donating money can become an expression of something they can’t find within themselves. Donating money runs the risk of being another way to fulfill a hole within – a way to feel the happiness and fulfillment that has not been found inside.
And for many people, the decision to donate money is a kind of “knee-jerk” reaction to the emptiness they feel inside.
Is your decision to donate money driven by true altruism from a fulfilled place within?
Or is your decision to donate money driven by the need to find meaning in your life?
Do you truly wish to donate?
Or are you donating out of an obligation to maintain the image of success that you have so carefully crafted?
Ask yourself these questions when these moments arise – exploring the intentions behind your actions will reveal profound truths and the freedom to choose your actions.
Business is a Spiritual Game
We walk an inner path first – everything begins within us and we are an expression of Mother Nature. We are an expression of love, the source, the universe – we are infinity. The reason why we walk here on Earth is to rediscover our infinity. Life is a creation and our life on Earth is an experiment.
In this way, business is a spiritual game.
Your choices, successes, and ambitions in this spiritual game are a reflection of what is inside you.
For many of us, our entire life and business are built upon trying to feel something that we have yet to find within.
Only if you have found that place within yourself that is already full and healed – only then can you find the true connection to your soul. Only then can your actions move from reactions to choices that are aligned with your soul.
Close your eyes – put on some beautiful music that puts you into a deep state of being.
Inhale and exhale.
Connect with what it is you are looking to do and achieve and ask:
“Why? What am I truly looking for? Can I find this place within me right here and now so I have the true freedom of choice? Can I already experience what I’m looking for within me at this moment? So then I am OK with not doing anything at all? Because I can already experience what I am looking for at the moment? If the purpose of my ambitions is to experience love, success, and gratitude – and if I can feel that within already – what’s the purpose of doing anything at all?”
The only moment in life when we have a true choice is when we find that place within ourselves where we are truly and honestly 100% OK with not doing anything at all.