Burn the Ships!
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Jim Bernardi has been recognized as "The Consummate
Fixed Operations Expert by Automotive Executives
Worldwide". He has over 34 years of experience in Fixed
Operations Recruiting, Training, Management and
Marketing. He has been a contributing author in several
Automotive Magazines for many years and is the Founder
and Publisher of Automotive Dealers Network. Jim
continues to travel the globe educating Dealers and
Manufacturers the importance of sales in Fixed
Operations Management for his Training Company:
AutoPro Training Solutions. When he is not training a
Dealer Group or a Dealership you will find him as a Guest
Speaker at many Dealer 20 Group Meetings. He offers
real world solutions to Dealers and Manufacturers in over
49 countries worldwide. He is always looking to better
serve the Franchised Automotive World. He continues to
offer a 3 day Comprehensive Fixed Operations
Performance Review to Dealers at N/C and performs
these reviews personally. He can be reached at
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In 1519, the Spanish explorer Cortez sailed his fleet of 11 ships into the harbor of Vera Cruz, Mexico. It was
common practice in those days to leave guards with the ships, as they might be needed to later return to the
Old World for supplies or, if necessary, to retreat from the enemy.
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But Cortez came for victory; he did not come to look at “options.” He didn’t want anyone to have any doubts about
their mission, so he gave the order to “burn the ships.” Obviously Cortez wasn’t ambivalent about victory. Nothing
short of victory was acceptable!

When Cortez gave his orders to burn the ships, his men no doubt “got it” that he was serious about this mission. It
takes commitment like this if you really want results. But in today’s world, what is a typical commitment by most
people? All too often it’s a lukewarm response that says, “Sure I can give it a shot,” and with one hand outstretched,
we reach for the stars. But just in case things don’t work out, we keep our other hand firmly grasped to the chair in
our familiar and comfortable office in the world of the known and predictable. As I read somewhere: When the going
gets tough, those who keep one eye on the way out usually lose.

We all go through times in our lives when we know we must commit to change, and in some cases, significant
change. And if we are honest, we will admit change scares the daylights out of us. We all want the potential reward
and excitement that change offers, and there’s often real excitement in our voice when we talk about the challenge.
But talk is cheap. Commitment requires real action; the kind of action Cortez took when he gave to order, “Burn the

Fully committing to success means there are no excuses. If you commit to increasing sales, then burn the ship of
excuses because nothing short of total realization of that goal is acceptable. Old sales goals are gone forever, and
the only things you are focused on are the new numbers. Falling back and achieving the old numbers isn’t a success
of any kind; it’s short of your goal.

If you commit to meeting with one new client every week, but you used to meet with one new client every three
months, burn that ship of what used to be acceptable. It’s gone! Meet the goal you have established!
Simply saying “I want to do this or that” isn't good enough. Commitment requires that we change the verb from want
to will. I will contact new prospects this week, I will make this deadline, and I will change my attitude.
Burn the ship of options and excuses and make a real commitment! No more “woulda,” “coulda” or “shoulda” and no
mindset of “I will go down fighting.” I will not go down fighting, because I will not fail!
If you want to win, don’t allow losing to be an option. Victory comes with the commitment that is willing to “burn the

I’m not stating that you burn the proverbial ship; I am merely suggesting that you make it a company policy to fight
the good fight & never give in to negative employee relations that certainly slows the tides of progression. Make sure
your team is committed to go the distance & demand perfection in all they accomplish each & every day. Your
customers are certainly expecting a bigger bang for their buck.

Your Action: When you make your next commitment, write it down on a piece of paper and keep it in a
conspicuous place where you will see it daily. Begin with “I will” not “I want.”