A year ago we talked about New Year’s Resolutions. How did you do? Did you stick with it? Did you accomplish your goal? What are you going to resolve to change or improve in 2014? What price are you willing to pay?
In Greece, in the third century BC, lived a very short, stocky, effeminate man with a congenitally contorted neck, named Alexander. As a teenager he had a tutor you might have heard of, Aristotle. His father was a well-to-do government official, so it was a pretty posh upbringing, which tends to make children a little soft. But Alexander was anything but soft. He entered the military and rapidly rose in rank to the top. By the time he was 30 years old he had created one of the largest empires in the ancient world. He was never defeated in battle, and his name was known with fame and fear. In fact you may know him by his nickname of Alexander the Great.
In one military campaign his warriors landed on the shores of Persia, a country with one of the most powerful armies and one of the most powerful navy fleets in the world. Alexander’s troops were vastly outnumbered. His first order was shocking: “Burn the boats.” I’m sure many of his troops followed this command with no little amount of trepidation. But by destroying their ships they did away with any possibility of retreat. It was now conquer or die. And conquer they did. You see, to Alexander the Great, defeat was not an option.
Centuries later, Julius Caesar executed a similar strategic action by crossing a forbidden river called the Rubicon into Italy. No general could cross that river without the permission of the Roman Senate or it was considered an act of war. Once he gave the order to his troops, there was no turning back—it was the point of no return, and he either conquered or would be executed. Of course we know from history that he went on to victory, greatness, and fame.
Other military leaders have burned bridges behind them, committing themselves to the battle before them. Amazing things happen—including increased focus, energy, strength, and bravery—when there is no possibility of chickening out, no exit strategy.
New Year’s Resolutions and personal goals, to have power and the assurance of success, often require bold decisions and focused action. There are far too many of us that are afflicted with the anemic trait of making partial decisions, and then we find ourselves constantly looking back over our shoulders. The world is full of half-a-minders. They have half-a-mind to do this or half-a-mind to do that. Nothing really worth doing is going to be accomplished if we are only half committed to it. It’s always inspirational for me to read about these great leaders, events, and commitments. I guess the real question is: are you willing to “burn the boats”? Do you have the fortitude to “cross the Rubicon”? Are you ready to burn the bridge behind you to assure your success on your worthwhile resolutions for 2014? In the end it comes down to you. Why don’t you “Just Do It”?