Has anyone “Burned the ships and cut all sources of retreat?”

David Jeremiah Fuimaono
4 replies
I’m a quote junky, and one that’s been resonating with me lately is from Napoleon Hill’s classic, “Think and Grow Rich”: “Every person who succeeds in any endeavor must be willing to burn his ships and cut all sources of retreat, in order to maintain that state of mind known as a BURNING DESIRE TO WIN, essential to success.” Quick backstory for anyone bored and interested: 4 years ago I received my MBA, and “burned the ships” by deciding to pass on a great paying career opportunity to lead a new startup company. I knew if I accepted the offer, I would get comfortable making good money and in the long run wouln’t want to jeapordize financial stability. The result would have been losing my nerve for taking calculated risks, which in my opinion is the kiss of death for an entrepreneur. I declined the offer and took the road less traveled, despite not having a clear vision and plan of action for what venture I was going to pursue. Instead I did what any proud, independent, self respecting, 30 year old man, and newly graduated MBA recipient does... I moved out of my own place, and into my mother’s basement, crashed on her couch, and became a Rideshare Driver for Uber/Lyft until I figured things out, and found my way forward. #LivingTheDream LOL Ironically it was during my experience as a Ridershare Driver that I gained the inspiration for my first business venture. After 3 years of testing different ideas, learning, listening, researching, observing, networking, falling, getting back up again, refusing to quit, and resolving to never give up... I’ve recently decided to “burn the ships and cut all sources of retreat” by hanging up the keys, returning the vehicle, and going full steam ahead to take the hill and launch what I’ve been planning and preparing for these past few years. I’m building an online school that teaches life skills for the modern world. There’s so much to do in so little time. And I’m fired up! I’m aiming for a soft launch this Saturday, September 14. Anyone else in a similar boat of “burning your ships and cutting all sources of retreat,” either in the past, present, or soon to be future? Hopefully you’re not in the boat when you set it on fire. Lol David Jeremiah


Congratulations, David. What you've described reminds me of a "commitment device". I learned of this from Atomic Habits: "...Victor Hugo was facing an impossible deadline. Twelve months earlier, the French author had promised his publisher a new book. But instead of writing, he spent that year pursuing other projects, entertaining guests, and delaying his work. Frustrated, Hugo’s publisher responded by setting a deadline less than six months away. The book had to be finished by February 1831. Hugo concocted a strange plan to beat his procrastination. He collected all of his clothes and asked an assistant to lock them away in a large chest. He was left with nothing to wear except a large shawl. Lacking any suitable clothing to go outdoors, he remained in his study and wrote furiously during the fall and winter of 1830. The Hunchback of Notre Dame was published two weeks early on January 14, 1831." "This is also referred to as a “Ulysses pact” or a “Ulysses contract.” Named after Ulysses, the hero of The Odyssey, who told his sailors to tie him to the mast of the ship so that he could hear the enchanting song of the Sirens but wouldn’t be able to steer the ship toward them and crash on the rocks. Ulysses realized the benefits of locking in your future actions while your mind is in the right place rather than waiting to see where your desires take you in the moment." "A commitment device is a choice you make in the present that controls your actions in the future. It is a way to lock in future behavior, bind you to good habits, and restrict you from bad ones. When Victor Hugo shut his clothes away so he could focus on writing, he was creating a commitment device." Can't wait to see what you've been cooking up! Feel free to DM me (can we DM on PH? Still figuring things out...) if you'd like an early alpha-tester to jump in, poke around, and provide feedback.
David Jeremiah Fuimaono
@eve_hammond Wow, those are inspiring and very relevant stories. Thank you for sharing! I’ve heard about that book, Atomic Habits, but haven’t had a chance to read it yet. After reading these snippets you provided, the book just made my “to read list.” I’m not sure about DM on PH, as I’m still green to this site, and still trying to figure out how it all works. Thank you for your offer. Once I get the beta site launched I’ll definitely be looking for feedback and reach out.
Exciting and thanks for sharing the story. To me - its a bitter pill to swallow that opting for a path of self-reflection, a path which doesn't necessarily maximize one's earnings potential in the job market is seen as unusual, uncommon or maybe even undesirable. I think a ton of our macro level problems today come for an inability or lack of desire to optimize for impact, or to support those in society who need the most help and are the most vulnerable. I think it's great you had courage to do something 'different'. That said I hope this path becomes more and more common in years to come. Excited for your launch!
David Jeremiah Fuimaono
@abadesi I agree, “I hope this path becomes more and more common in years to come.” In fact, I believe out of necessity people are going to have to embrace this path. And while this “different” path is still the road less traveled, wrought with its own set of difficulties and hardships, it can be so fulfilling and rewarding. The things we learn, the amount of personal growth we experience, and not to mention the freedom to pursue something of significance is often overlooked by the masses.