Your Mom's Basement

Updated: Jul 24, 2019

One of the fastest growing segments of our population today is made up of college graduates in their 20s or early 30s who have moved back home because they have not been able to adequately launch their careers.  I admire families that stand in the gap when people have a true crisis or a pressing need, but in many cases, I think this comfortable safety net may be counterproductive.  

After most of my speeches at arena events or corporate conventions, I have a chance to meet people, sign books, and take photos.  I'm always excited to hear about people's goals, plans, and dreams.  Recently, I met a young man who told me about his interest in launching a business.  He said, "I might as well try it, and if it doesn't work, I can always live in my mom's basement."  I told him that success requires persistence and tenacity that is often at odds with having a comfortable alternative or Plan B.  

When he asked about my own experience in launching my own career as an entrepreneur, I told him, "My mom didn't have a basement."  My parents raised my brother and me in an exemplary fashion giving us the tools and instruction as well as the examples we both needed to find success in our individual fields.  This is not to say that if there had been a crisis that family assistance would not have been available; however, the expectation that we had everything necessary to succeed was so pervasive that having a fallback position to accommodate failure never crossed my mind.  

Recently, I participated in a movie based on the life of Napoleon Hill and his groundbreaking book Think and Grow Rich.  One of the great stories in Hill's book and our movie illustrates my point.  Several centuries ago, there was a powerful military leader who had sailed to a distant land to confront his enemy.  As his army arrived on the shore and disembarked from their various boats, he gave an unexpected but impactful command when he ordered his soldiers to "burn the boats."  Burning the boats took away any option of retreat, defeat, or failure.  The only way to succeed was to defeat the enemy which they did.  


We human beings have a tendency to take the course of least resistance when confronted with pain, inconvenience, or discomfort.  Success requires all these elements and more.  You certainly don't want to create a situation where temporary failure is fatal to your efforts, but if you plan a convenient and comfortable alternative to the necessary action, you will too often accept that alternative.  

Success often comes when we put ourselves in a position where the mountain summit is the most logical and clear destination.

As you go through your day today, burn the boats and seize the victory.

Today's the day!

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