In 210 BC, a Chinese commander named Xiang Yu led his troops across the Yangtze River to attack the army of the Qin (Ch’in) dynasty in what is known as the Battle of Julu. Pausing on the banks of the river for the night, his troops awakened in the morning to find, to their horror, that their ships were burning. They hurried to their feet to fight off their attackers, but soon discovered that it was Xiang Yu himself who had set their ships on fire, and that he had also ordered all the cooking pots crushed. Xiang Yu explained to his troops that without the pots and the ships, they had no other choice but to fight their way to victory or perish.
Despite being heavily outnumbered, Xiang’s forces scored a great victory after nine engagements, defeating the 300,000 strong Qin army.
Xiang’s story is a perfect example of what happens when we destroy options of having plan B. Of course it’s the logical and rational things to do, have a plan B in case plan A fails; you have something to fall back on. On the contrary, a plan B only makes you lazy, relaxed and unwilling to give everything. Since you know even if you fail, you have an out and you always have something to get back to.
However, as we continue to learn from people like Warren Buffet, Will Smith and most other successful people we know, having only one plan gives you a ferocious level of focus that propels and guides you into success. According to Buffet:
“Do not put your eggs in many baskets. Put all your eggs in one basket – and proceed to watch that basket”.
If we compare to Xiang’s men, they simple had to fight their way forward or die.