Setting the Ships Ablaze


I’m frequently asked what prompted me to get tattooed to the level that I am (as if it was a decision that I made on one given day). Recently, while visiting some friends in a neighborhood bar after leaving my office, I was asked that very question by a rather inebriated young girl.

She asked why I would choose to tattoo my hands, neck, and face, adding that I must be concerned that I will never be able to “get a job” at this point. My friend who I was visiting laughed at her comment, and futilely attempted to explain to her “who I was”.

As is customary I replied with something like “Yeah, that’s something to consider” before moving on to the next interaction with a friend, and ordering another Guinness.

Later, my friend brought that moment up to me again, adding that I must get questions like that all the time. I told him that I most certainly did, and that normally they occurred in contexts like that one, and ironically never in those where I am acting in a professional role, whether with corporate clients, at seminar events, or speaking in front of a group of leaders or even law enforcement personnel.

I did share with him though what I consider to be the number one reason that I felt it “OK” to grant myself “permission” to express myself in that manner. I told him that I made the decision long ago that I would not work for anyone else, and that I absolutely, without a doubt, had to succeed as an entrepreneur, on my terms.

In that context, I guess you could say that me tattooing myself to such an “unemployable” degree served as a form of “insurance” against ever deciding to abandon my dreams, and settle for a life of mediocrity, wasting away in some “safe and secure” job that I hated, being compensated based on some other person’s idea of my worth.

While I will agree, and openly state that I am, in fact, highly “unemployable”, I’ll emphatically note that it has nothing to do with my tattoos, and everything to do with my entrepreneurial spirit, and need to live my life on my own terms.

As quite literal proof of this point, I should add that I have been offered employment several times in the past few years, twice by clients who owned, or operated in a high level capacity within, large businesses, and once by a major, national convenience store chain who asked me to come on to design and implement their wellness initiative, and work with their executives and salesforce on leadership and effective communication for influence.

In the latter example, I turned down the offer when my compensation needs were not met, and when they refused to sign my NDA (Non-Disclosure Agreement), drafted by my attorney. Seeing as that the position was a six-figure retained consulting deal in a very large corporation, you can imagine the “disbelief” expressed by friends and family after I told them to keep the job, and exited the meeting abruptly when my terms were not met (ironically, one of my most essential business partners at this point was employed by that organization at the time).

But enough about this handsome guy though, let’s get into the meat of this post.

My story above illustrates my commitment to an unbending principle of success in any endeavor, that I strongly live by, and instill in those that I work with as clients, regardless of where they currently are in life.

The simple principle that I’m referring to is what I call “burning the boats”.

I tell these people that in order to succeed in an extraordinary manner in whatever their pursuit, they must commit to the point that they are “sailing to the island, and burning the boats”.

The above describes the practice of “scuttling” a ship, or intentionally destroying or sinking it either to cut off the possibility of escape or retreat, or to avoid the ship’s capture.

One of the most historically noted examples of this in action involves the famed, Spanish Conquistador, Hernan Cortes, the man responsible for leading the expedition that resulted in the fall of the Aztec empire. Cortes ordered his fleet set ablaze in order to prevent the secretly planned trip back to Cuba, and forcing his men to “make it work” in the new territory.

When interviewing or otherwise conversing with those who have achieved extraordinary success in their lives, this theme is one that is seemingly omnipresent, and therefore should be recognized as a necessary measure that you must take if you wish to reproduce results in the order of their accomplishments.

Below are the three elements that I believe to be essential to anyone’s personal “scuttling” plan. Employing these three pieces will enable you to truly detach yourself from the all-too-comfportable notion that you have an “easy way out”, and help to keep you on course to achieving whatever it is that you truly wish to make reality in your own life.


Clarity of Purpose

I’ve written about this at length in my book “Blueprint to Beast: A Comprehensive Guide to Building the Life of Your Dreams”, and elsewhere in several articles. Knowing what it is that you desire, above all else, is incredibly important. It is difficult to arrive at a destination if you have not first determined what that destination is. This is only half of the clarity equation however, you must also know why it is so important for you to get there.

Having a concrete “why” is paramount. With a strong enough “why”, the “how” will present itself. Whether you’re clear on precisely the course that you must take to accomplish your objective or not, the “why” will allow you to be infinitely more open to receive the knowledge or guidance that you need to help develop and grow your “how”.

Whether you want more money, a better professional life, better relationships, a jaw-dropping body, or any other sought after outcome, you must first determine why it is of the utmost importance that you achieve it. Those addicted to drugs are an excellent example of this concept in action. Imagine an addict waking up flat broke in the morning, yet finding a way to raise a few hundred bucks before nightfall to feed his habit, day in, day out. It’s a grim example sure, but those people have a strong “why”.

Find your “whys” and then worry about your “hows”.



This is a big one for all of us. While it’s of the greatest importance that we hold ourselves accountable for our performances, our successes, and our failures, it certainly helps to have accountability to others as well.

This may seem to fly in the face of much of what I speak about, and in a way it does. What we’re doing here though is leveraging an unavoidable truth about people, and making the proverbial “lemonade” out of the lemons we’re given.

Research has indicated that humans have between 40,000 and 50,000 individual, conscious thoughts each day. Of these thoughts, 87% are reported to be negative in nature. Contrast the feedback that you may have received as a child with regards to your aspirations with those that you receive as an adult.

Few are outright evil enough to tell a child that he or she can’t be anything that he or she wants to be, or can’t do whatever he or she should put his or her mind to. Add a few years of age, and there’s a naysayer, or dream thief seemingly around every corner.

If you’re worried that these people’s feedback and influences will derail you from your chosen course, don’t be; you’re stronger than that. What I want you to do is use their negativity to fuel your efforts to succeed.

Make it a point to express to as many people as possible your exact intentions for success. Deliberately seek out those friends or family members who expect to be the most negative about your potential to succeed. You’ll get an earful believe me, but you will use their negativity as fuel to help you succeed. Additionally, the last thing that you’ll want to do is go back to that person or people and recount the reasons why you failed, so you’ll have that extra incentive to stay the course and accomplish your objective.

Accountability can make a significant difference in your success. As an interesting note, I conducted a call today with a first time client who initially scheduled with me about two weeks ago (this is not uncommon due to my busy schedule). His is a case of a guy who knows the mechanical steps that he must take to achieve his goal, but who has not been actively completing them. Interestingly enough, he told me that he’s been killing it the last two weeks, and has already seen improvement in the areas that he hired me to assist him with.

When asked why he decided to take action two weeks ago he replied that he “didn’t want to get on the call with me and tell me that he’d been doing nothing, despite the fact that he’d been doing nothing for several months”.

Can you see how accountability plays a role?


“Skin in the Game”

This is perhaps the most important piece of the “scuttling” puzzle. The term “skin in the game” is used extensively in business and investing, and refers to the degree to which a person is invested in the success of a business. For instance, an investor paying a large sum for a fifty percent stake in a failing company is now highly motivated to step in and see to it that the business repairs itself and becomes profitable so as to recoup his initial investment, and generate a profit and ROI.

When you’ve got money riding on your success, you just take more consistent, and better action towards achieving the end result that you desire, period.

This is one of the reasons why my clients do so well in my Coaching programs. Sure, I’m excellent at what I do, but a person who has made a sizable financial investment is just plain going to listen and work harder than one who is receiving guidance for free.

If you’ve ever tried to help a friend or relative better his or her situation you’ll no doubt relate to what I’m saying here. I have a passion for helping others, and I certainly have attempted to do so for free extensively in the past. I learned a few “hard lessons” that way in dumping time, energy, and resources into those who did not truly wish to better themselves, and as a result lost opportunities to better myself and my ability to help those who do.

Whether it’s hiring me as your coach, or seeking out someone else who can provide you with invaluable knowledge or guidance as to how to most efficiently accomplish your mission, getting some “skin in the game” is without a doubt the best investment that you can make if you are serious about ascending in life.


Now I want you to think about what it is that you really want.

What keeps you up at night?

What are the sources of frustration, angst, and inner turmoil in your life?

What would you change, without question, right now if you knew how to do so?

Once you’ve identified these things, begin to take action towards righting these wrongs today by activating the three powerful allies described in this post.

Sail to the island and set those ships ablaze.

I’m ready, torch in hand to assist you on your expedition, but I warn you, I’ve been fleeing the scene of burning ships for some time, so you’re going to have to keep up.




Comments are closed.