For over twenty years I’ve been helping people change their lives for the better. Because of this I get frustrated when I see gyms using advertising telling people that they can get results with “NO COMMITMENT”. The Superbowl was last week and the Olympics have just started. Do you think the coaches of any of these athletes said, “I don’t want any of you to make a commitment to reach your goals. Let’s just hope for the best and feel free to drop out any time if things get difficult.” Or possibly you made that statement to your spouse before getting married? Nothing worthwhile will ever be achieved without you making a commitment. The Legend of Spanish Conquistador Hernando Cortez makes this point.
The phrase “Burn The Ships” comes from the Legend of Cortez. Cortez landed in Mexico on the shores of the Yucatan in 1519. In the story Cortez came with only one objective…seize the great treasures hoarded by the Aztecs. Cortez was committed to his mission, he convinced more than 500 soldiers and 100 sailors to set sail from Spain to Mexico, commanding 11 ships, to take the world’s richest treasure. How would a small band of Spanish soldiers in a strange country swiftly overthrow a large and powerful empire that was in power for over six centuries?
For Cortez, the answer was easy. It was all or nothing. Complete and Total Commitment. Cortez got the “buy in” from the rest of his men by taking away the option of failure. It was conquer and be a hero or die trying. When Cortez and his men arrived on the shores of the Yucatan he rallied the men for one final pep talk before leading his men into battle, and uttered three words. “Burn the Ships”.
His men were shocked, but he repeated, “Burn the ships, if we are going home, we are going home in their ships”. With that, Cortez and his men burned their ships, and by burning their own ships, the commitment of the men was raised to a whole new level. A level much higher than any of the men, including Cortez, could have ever imagined.
Cortez and his men conquered the Aztecs and had succeeded in something where others had been unsuccessful for six centuries. Why did they win? They had no choice! It was “succeed or die”. Their ships were burned. They had no way to get back.
To “really succeed” you must have an attitude much like that of Cortez and his men. Cortez and his men did not have a “crutch”, an “excuse” or “fall-back position”. They couldn’t just say “this is too hard, let’s forget the whole thing”. It was simply “succeed or die”. Pretty strong position, isn’t it? What do you think you could achieve with that level of motivation and commitment?
Now don’t get me wrong. We don’t want our members to drop from exhaustion, but we ask them to commit to exercise even on days they may not feel like it. These members know that they will reap the rewards from their workouts and always feel better when they’re through.
Our most successful members are in Unlimited Small Group Personal Training and they make a year commitment. These are the people who have lost 20,40, 60 pounds or have gone from being able to do no pull-ups, to 20 with a weighted vest. Why? Because they made the commitment. Everyone has a rough week once in a while and wants to give up, but because they’ve committed to us we’ve committed to them. We’re going to keep them on track and help them reach their goals no matter what it takes. They’ve made the commitment to stick with it for the year and not give up when it gets a little hard sometimes. So make the commitment. We’re here for you and we’ll be there when you reach your goals. BURN THE SHIPS!