ships

Cortés arrived on the shores of South America with one thing in mind-  Colonizing South America and claiming it for Spain.  But what most don’t realize is that wasn’t the reason why he was sent there.  In fact, he wasn’t sent there.  The Governor of Cuba found Cortes too free thinking and dangerous and was looking for another officer that would be more compliant.

Upon discovering that he was going to be passed over, he snuck away with 11 or so ships from Cuba in the dark and headed to South America.

The original mission wasn’t a mission of conquest.  It was a mission to locate missing Spanish Explorers.  Obviously, Cortés had different plans.

When he arrived, many of his crewmen discovered his true intentions and decided to steal a ship and head back to Cuba.  A plan was hatched to slip away and inform the Governor of Cuba Cortés’ true intentions.  The plans were found out and he had to make a decision as to what to do.

This is what he did-

  • He hung the 2 ringleaders behind this.
  • He instructed the captains of his 11 ships to drill holes into the hulls and blame it on worms.

Most of the ships sunk as a result stranding himself and the other conquistadors on a hostile continent with no way to get back home.

Are you Sinking your Ships of Retreat?

Cortés did this for a reason.  He knew that his men were still using the ships as a possibility of retreat.  They could hold onto the idea of going back to lives that they had in Spain, should something go wrong.  When he sunk his ships, all possibilities of escape vanished, making his men more focused on what they needed to do in the present.

Suddenly, there were no options.  They had to focus on getting out alive.  And Surviving.  One Day at a Time.

And you probably know the rest of the story.


We are told to have back up plans.  Be safe.  Have something just in case it doesn’t work out.  And at the first sign of trouble, we use them to go back to familiar, safe places rather than try to weather through the troubled times.

However, if you have no form of retreat….if you have given yourself no other option but to push through or die….you will do things that you would otherwise not do to accomplish what you originally were hoping to accomplish.

There is nothing more dangerous than a man (or woman) with no options left but to press forward.

image attribution- http://www.flickr.com/photos/theta444/43641376/