The year was 1519 when an order was given which undoubtedly made the men question the sanity of the commander giving it but looking at the bigger picture, it makes total sense. Hernan Cortes, from Spain came to the New World on a mission. You would think being the Governor of Cuba would be enough but for the explorer it wasn’t. So, in 1519 he, along with about 600 sailors set sail for a new land, a new adventure. This is when Cortes landed on the beaches of Veracruz to begin his conquest of Mexico. It’s then he gave his men the order to “Burn the Ships!” What did this mean to them? More importantly, what does this mean for us? To get our lessons from this snippet of history lets look at the whole story.
He Worked toward Accomplishing His Vision
As Cortes sat in his Lay-Z-Boy in Spain his vision began to take form. Perhaps even earlier but let’s just start here. It wasn’t enough for him to dream of far away lands, of conquest or of being remembered in history but he pursued this vision, he set off to work toward this goal. He learned to sail a ship, put in the work to rise in the ranks until finally he was a commander, then off he went. First to Cuba but then to Mexico, conquering the Aztecs and living out his days as their leader.
What does this mean to you as a pitmaster? Well, I guess all of this depends on your vision. Do you want to overtake Myron as the winningest man in BBQ or just be the best in your state? Do you want to be a World Champion steak cook? Perhaps its just to own your own business revolving around the world of outdoor cooking. Whatever your vision, recognize it will take time and effort. Cortes didn’t just wake up one morning and become a household name among the conqueror community. Neither should you expect this in your BBQ journey.
Perhaps you need to take some business classes so you can understand what it takes to run one. Eric Hodson, of Boars Night Out Championship BBQ Team, once said, “Every time he cooks at home, he is practicing for a competition.” This paid off for him in 2017 when he became the SCA World Champion. Look at Chris Lilly who has spent years working at Big Bob Gibson’s which has led to FIVE Memphis in May World Championships. The point is your vision can be accomplished with the effort and time you’re willing to put into it.
He Refused to Go Backward
When Cortes landed in Mexico then gave the order to burn the ships, can you imagine what was going through the minds of his crew? “Are you sure about this?” “Has he lost his Mind?” “How will we go back?” These must’ve been some of the questions they had? But he had them burned anyway. But Why? He wasn’t more sure of anything in his life and hadn’t lost his mind, he was thinking very clearly with an objective in mind. Was he afraid? Possibly, but this fear was not enough to stop him once his mind was made up. On top of this, he had no intentions of going back. He was all in when it came to what he wanted.
I’ve been asked if I’ve lost my mind when I decided to make the BBQ life my life. How can you make a living cooking outside? Do you make any money writing? Traveling as a speaker is fun, but you’ll never get rich. You need the security of a regular job. Have you heard something like this from your family, friends and almost complete strangers? Have there been moments when you were fearful of what the future held when you decided to open the store? One of the differences between those who succeed and those who do not is fear. Those who succeed recognize the fear of the unknown and what could happen, yet they press on. Those who do not succeed recognize the fear and naysayers, yet it paralyzes them to keep to the status quo.
When Cortes ordered the burning of the ships, he gave himself no option to go backwards. This spoke volumes to those around him and it still speaks to us in 2020. He remembered the lessons and experiences he had gained from the past, which gave him the knowledge he would need to press forward. There is nothing wrong with looking back but you must remove all options of going back if you plan to succeed. Cortes did this by burning the ships what must you burn to move forward in your BBQ life? Your daytime job? Perhaps your 401k? He knew the cost of going forward and was willing to pay it.
He Accepted the Challenge of Moving Forward
To conquer a new land isn’t without a bunch of challenges. Where will they live? How would they eat? What will it take to overtake these people known as Aztecs? You know there were a thousand other challenges, yet he was willing to face them all and even those which were unexpected. This was the message he sent when he resolved to burn the ships. No turning back, only moving forward regardless of the challenges. As history shows us, he not only accepted the challenges but hit them head on and overcame them.
When there is a resolve to accept those challenges, which lie ahead then you will not be deterred even by those questioning you. Some of those most likely came from his own men questioning his ability, placing doubt about his certainty to accomplish goal much like those facing you. But like him, you must resolve to face those challenges no matter how uphill it may seem.
But how do you overcome these challenges? This question gets asked all the time and the answer is…I don’t know. Every challenge is different and the only constant in overcoming them is your resolve, your determination, your gumption, your…whatever you want to call it, you must have it to succeed. When you do you’ll move forward, conquering great lands and the burning of ships will turn out to be a small price that was paid.
Whatever your vision is in your BBQ Journey, in order to accomplish it you must do more than light some charcoal, you must Burn the Ships.