Sometimes the key to success is a situation where there's no going back.

burning ship

This is a guest post by Alex Shalman. If you’d also like to guest post here on JobMob, follow these guest post guidelines.

One of Julius Caesar's most famous conquests was when he set fire to his own fleet of ships upon stepping onto enemy soil.

What this effectively did was remove the ability to retreat, and forced him and his troops to move on to victory.

“As a rule, men worry more about what they can't see than about what they can.”
~Julius Caesar

The mere thought of entrepreneurship or cutting oneself off from the corporate umbilical cord has been known to make grown men tremble in their cubicles. Thoughts of credit card premiums, defaults on mortgages, repossessed cars, and rummaging through garbage cans for food come to mind.

How to overcome the fear of going out on your own

One trick that always helps me to decimate fear of the unknown is to imagine the worst case scenario, and what it would feel like to be there.

Say you do quit your job to chase your dream, then you end up going into debt, your wife leaves you, and you're living on the street. This might feel like a total failure: cold, hungry, depressed, and lonely. From rock bottom, it's not too hard to make progress, and improve with each day.

The failed attempt is a valuable lesson that can fuel your future successes.

I personally have a dream of becoming a dentist and owning a chain of offices here in New Jersey. I have “failed” to get into dental school a couple of times now, and I am currently on the waiting list for this coming school year. The idea of staying at a job, when I could be going after this dream career is unappealing to me. At the same time, I have no current qualifications to work at a big money job, nor do I have the desire to.

I have plan A, plan A, and plan A.

It doesn't have to be a horror story though. Just as Caesar, without an escape route, marched on to victory, so have many entrepreneurs sweated and toiled their way to financial abundance.

When you multiply your brilliant ideas with a forceful execution (one that you get from crushing your dream 30 hours per day), you have no way to go but up. Once you're successful, all the stories of your failures along the way will be that much more interesting.

Until then…

“Every day I get up and look through the Forbes list of the richest people in America. If I'm not there, I go to work.”
~Robert Orben

Follow up

Shortly after writing this guest post, Alex Shalman received some good news: he was accepted into the New York University dental program.

His plan A seems to be working.

About the author
Alex Shalman
Alex Shalman does for personal development what Chuck Norris does for the karate, and he's got a very bad (to the bone) podcast on self-improvement.

This article is part of the 3rd Annual JobMob Guest Blogging Contest. If you want Alex Shalman to win, share this article with your friends.

If you like this article, you'll probably also enjoy Dreams of Riches? Here’s Why You Should Start Your Business Before Firing Your Boss.

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Jacob Share

Job Search Expert, Professional Blogger, Creative Thinker, Community Builder with a sense of humor. I like to help people.

This Post Has 22 Comments

  1. MGL

    I will pass this on to some future entreprenuers I know.

  2. Daniel

    Re: “I personally have a dream of becoming a dentist and owning a chain of offices here in New Jersey. I have “failed” to get into dental school a couple of times now, and I am currently…”

    Alex, it sounds like you want two things there. Do you want to be a dentist and clean peoples’ mouths? Or do you want to be a businessman and run a chain of offices in NJ?

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  4. Vikram

    Hi Alex
    Though your blogs have been funny in the past, this one was lame.
    Anyways congrats on getting through a dental school, and just one small piece of information before Caesar it was Alexander who burnt his ships when he crossed into Asia Minor on route to Babylon

  5. Jason Monastra

    That should be really inspiring for some of the people that wait and wait, never to fulfill what they want since they are constantly fearful of what might happen. The cutting off from being able to move back really brings people to the crest of facing more than just their dreams, but more importantly their fears as they look at themselves.

    Most people are self defeated, well before they even pick up a pen, go into a sales call, or move on a playing field. I think if more people went into the role knowing there was no backing up, no retreat, and the only thing behind them was nothing – moving forward would be less intimidating.

  6. Jon Degani

    I don’t know any story of Julius Caesar or Alexander burning the ships. I think you’re referring to Cortes, when he conquered the Aztecs in what is now Mexico.

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  8. Alex Shalman

    There are different variations about who really did the burning of the ships. Different people say different things, I say it’s Caesar. Regardless, me knowing this story, and letting it drive me to push on is all that really matters- Hope it does the same for you.

    @Daniel – I want it all. I want to be an artist, practicing his craft of inside the mouth, a healer, who nurtures patients, a businessman, who expands and brings more opportunities to the land, a leader, who transforms the communities around him, a teacher, who trains people of the newest advances, and much much more. It can all fit the job description if you have the vision and desire.

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