You Need A Way Through, Not A Way Out

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Spanish conquistador, Captain Cortes, is known to have said “Burn the ships!” to his men when they arrived on the coast of the new land. The plan was that when they eventually sailed back to Spain, it would be in the ships of those they had conquered.

Cortes was leaving no room for his men to turn back early. The only way out was through. The only options: Victory or death. No graceful exit strategy. No off ramp. It was complete commitment, putting their very lives on the line. It’s the kind of commitment that, ironically, sets people free.

 We want life to change BEFORE we commit. But life won’t change UNTIL we commit.

We struggle with commitment when, instead of seeing freedom in it, we see it as a trap; that we’ll be stuck. We shift quickly from being a powerful creator in making a commitment to a disempowered victim of the commitment we just made. When we are confronted with the possibility of a new commitment—marriage, job, children, finances—our survival brain kicks in with an exit strategy to get us off the hook. The lizard brain is always looking for a way out; it’s just what it does. In the face of commitment, our lizard brain has us reasoning that life must turn out a certain way and THEN we’ll commit. We want life to change BEFORE we commit. Wouldn’t that be great? Except that life won’t change UNTIL we commit.

Life has already turned out! The life we already have is an honest inventory of our commitments so far. We already have whatever we’re going to have without any new commitments. Because action only and always follows commitment, never the other way around. Without commitment, nothing changes.

The life we already have is an honest inventory of our commitments so far.

Commitment is a context for our lives. It creates the space for our actions (our life) to show up in. It’s moves us to “work it out” instead of waiting to “figure it out.” It’s where we get to be unstoppable. The commitment holds the space so that no matter what happens on our way to results, we stay the course until we reach that goal. It gets created in an instant, right now, through a declared choice and lived out through integrity.

And commitment is a paradox. By locking us in, it sets us free. When we have something at risk, put something on the line, it transforms our experience with life. A new way of being opens up when we are at risk. Commitment frees us to rise to a higher level than we will ever attain as long as escape is an option; it compels us to be greater than we ever imagined.

Commitment is a paradox.

By locking us in, it sets us free.

Identify something you desire for yourself that you’ve been talking about but not actually doing what’s required to have. That could be in your relationships, bank account, spiritual growth, health or career. Why do you think you don’t have it?  What’s missing isn’t the thing you desire. What’s missing is your commitment to create the thing you desire. That’s really it. I promise you, if you were already committed to it, you would already have created it by now (or be well on your way).

What’s missing is your commitment to create the thing you desire.

For this desire, begin to notice all the ways you have given yourself an out, a backup plan, a safety net.  What will serve you most here is not an exit ramp but an entrance ramp, aka a bold commitment. Until you commit to it, it doesn’t exist. But true commitment makes it so already. It’s your access to freedom for creating the life you really want. Greatness is not in avoiding your next bold commitment, but in living from it.

Be Great!


Becky Henderson
Becky Henderson
I am a catalyst to uncover the blocks and barriers getting in your way of creating the life you desire. Together we can transform the obstacles into opportunities. I listen to what you say…and what you do not say. Similar to a mirror, I show you what you cannot see on your own right now, and tell you what is necessary to create the results you are looking for. I value who you are and where you want to go in life.
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  • Jennifer Myers

    Becky, this is such great truth. I needed this reminder today.

    • Becky Henderson

      Jenn, thank you. I need this reminder, too! I’m so glad it was timely for you.

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