Next I want to talk about a slightly different approach. Surfacing the cost of inaction encourages the realization that doing nothing isn't costless. But endowment's really strong, sometime change requires to going one step further. And those situations may warrant version of what's called burning the ships. As a child, no one would have guessed that Hernan Cortes would grow up to be a famous explorer. Born in Spain to a relatively poor family, he was a small colicky infant who was often sick. At his age 14, his parents encouraged him to study law but news of Christopher Columbus and the new world were streaming back to Spain and so Cortes wanted to do something different. He couldn't be satisfied living in small provincial town. He made plans to sail for America. In 1504, he landed in what's called Hispaniola or what today we think of as Haiti and the Dominican Republic. And he spent the next few years establishing himself. He registered as citizen, became a notary and did a number of different things. Eventually, he won favor with the governor and was appointed to a high political position in the colony. Eventually the governor asked him to invade Mexico. The mainland was believed to hold a bonanza of silver and gold and he put Cortes in command of an expedition to explore and secure the interior of the country. Accompanied by around 600 men, 13 horses and a small number of canons, Cortes and his 11 ships landed in the Yucatan Peninsula. He claimed the land for the Spanish, won a few battles against some Natives and took over Veracruz, a coastal region opposite the Gulf of Mexico from Cuba. After he established a town, Cortes wanted to explore further. 200 miles inland was supposed to be a magical city full of riches. But unfortunately the governor and Cortes were at odds. The governor feared losing control over the expedition and so he sent orders to relieve Cortes of his command. Cortes had gone ahead anyway. Now he faced imprisonment or death if he returned to Cuba. His only option was to conquer and settle part of the land. Not all Cortes' men though were keen on pushing inland. Some were still loyal to the governor. When they learned of Cortes' plans, they conspired to seize a ship and sail back to Cuba. Cortes moved to quash their plans, but he had a dilemma. For the mission to succeed, he needed the men's allegiance but the ships so readily available, would be difficult to prevent another mutiny. If enough men snuck on one of the boats, they could sail away and bring further repercussions from the governor. And so faced with the situation, Cortes made an unusual decision. He went ahead and burned the ships, all 11 of them. To ensure that mutiny didn't happen again, he removed the tackle and artillery and had his own ships demolished. Going back was no longer an option, now everyone had to forge ahead. Now what Cortes did might seem crazy. He destroyed his only option of getting home, but it turns out he isn't alone. Many great explorers have done things like burn the ships. There's an ancient Chinese saying, break the kettles and sink the boats alludes to a battle in which a Chinese explorer did something similar to encourage his army to commit. And the expression burning bridges actually comes from the idea that burning a bridge after crossing it during a military campaign provides a troop no choice but to continue the march. Now compared to the situations most people face on a daily basis, this tactic is extreme and it might even seem selfish. If you're one of Cortes' men, you probably would've been very unhappy. But similar more reasonable versions can be applied to a broad set of situations. A broad set of place where people stuck with the status quo, not completely taken that old option off the table, but making people realize and bear more of its true cost. Sam Michaels runs IT for a mid-sized entertainment firm. In addition to supporting the firm's website and other digital properties, they have the job of getting people to update their software. Every once in a while, you need a software update, you maybe need a hardware update, a new computer because the old one doesn't work anymore. Now, you would think people would be happy to upgrade. Your software has more features and your desktops are faster and more secure. So most people should be happy to upgrade to those new things but regardless of how great that upgrade is, my friend found that there were always some people who didn't want to switch. Rather than getting a new machine or new software, they preferred sticking with the old one. That existing machine was working just fine for them. Sure it was old and a little bit slow, but they didn't want to take the time to learn a new layout or risk files getting lost when they could stick with what they had. And these laggards they often wouldn't budge. He could send out email after email, reminder after reminder trying to get people to realize how good the new thing would be but they didn't want to do it. So rather than pushing, this guy tried something else. He took that old option off the table. One morning, he sent out a note to anyone who had yet to upgrade. In addition to recommending that people switch to the new machine, which he had done before and providing extra recommendations, he noted an upcoming change in IT support. They said that any machines were running that old version of Windows in two months would have to be disconnected from the network for security reasons. And because most employees had newer machines and it was tough for IT to stay up to date with older machines, at that point, it would no longer support older machines or machines that were running older versions of Windows. If things didn't work anymore, the employee would have to address it themselves. IT preferred it didn't get that far. But if people got stuck, they were on their own. He sent out the email and went off to lunch and by the time he got back an hour later, more than half the people he had emailed with responded to set up times to fix things. The email worked because he burned the ships. He didn't go as far as Cortes. He didn't delete employees' old versions of Windows or throw their computers out the window, but he used the same idea. He didn't completely remove the old option, but he made it clear that if people wanted to go back and stick with it, it was going to be costly. That the cost of sticking with the old thing were going to increase. He made it clear that employees could still use the old ships. But if they wanted to do so, they were on their own. And the same idea applies more broadly. Car manufacturers for example, they don't refuse to make replacement parts available for older vehicles. But once a reasonable amount of time has passed, they stop making as many. Prices go up and consumers are encouraged to transition to something new. Manufacturers don't force consumers to change but they also don't subsidize the prices of older parts leaving them artificially low. They pass on to those costs making it more like a consumers will move on from something they've doing before. In general, inaction is easy. It requires little effort to stick with the same beliefs, little time to stick to the same policies and approaches. Not surprising then compared to action, inaction often wins, inertia prevails, a body at rest tends to stay at rest. So sometimes we gotta take inertia off the table. Or at least no longer subsidize it as much as we've been doing it. Rather than think about whether a given new thing is better than the old one, by taking inaction off the table, burning the ships encourages people to set aside the old and instead think about which new thing is worth pursuing.