Thousands of years ago, a great warrior sent his armies against a powerful foe whose men vastly outnumbered his own. The chances of success looked slim but the warrior loaded his soldiers into boats and sailed to the enemy’s country. After everyone disembarked, he gave the order to burn the ships, the soldiers’ only escape from the island. Addressing his men before the first battle, the warrior said, “You see the boats going up in smoke. We cannot leave these shores alive unless we win! We now have no choice; we win or we perish!” The army went on to win the battle.
This story from Napoleon Hill’s legendary book Think and Grow Rich perfectly represents the state of mind I believe nonprofits and businesses need to reach success. I believe every successful individual and organization must be willing to burn their ships and eliminate all sources of retreat. The idea of having a plan b is exactly what leads to failure; there is no reason to have a plan b because it only distracts from plan a.
To commit to plan a fully, we have to ask ourselves a simple question: what do we want most? Astonishingly, I’ve found many people struggle to answer this question. Even when they do answer it, the answer changes so often, they rarely reach clarity. When we can confidently answer this question, it becomes our purpose.
Before I started El Pomar’s Internship I asked myself what I wanted most out of this incredible opportunity. I wanted to know what would drive me throughout this entire experience. It did not take much searching to find the answer. I wanted to genuinely connect with as many people as possible and learn what it takes to make a significant impact on my hometown of Pueblo and the rest of the state of Colorado.
As I started connecting with various people at El Pomar, it became apparent what everyone wanted most: to help the people of Colorado. I observed an overwhelming belief that we all have the opportunity here to change lives. By passionately acting on that belief every day, Spencer and Julie Penrose’s dream of changing lives is now a reality.
We are all a piece of an incredible living legacy. I believe the story of Julie and Spencer Penrose indicates what they wanted most was to contribute to causes bigger than themselves. This was their greatest success.
As Paulo Coelho once said in his classic book The Alchemist, “When you want something, all the universe conspires in helping you to achieve it.” It all starts with a simple question: what do you want most?