In July of 2014, I thought of a metaphor that represented my life, I saw a beautiful sailboat. The image was vivid as the sailboat had polished red wood, a mast, and sail ready to be used, yet it was sitting in a harbor tied to a dock. In this moment there was a flashback of what the boat looked like years ago, it was beat up, had holes in the wood, and was not sea worthy. Through years of work the boat was slowly fixed, cared for, and eventually ready to set sail . . . but it was sitting in a harbor: safe, comfortable, and away from any potential danger.
“A ship is safe in harbor, but that's not what ships are for.”
- William G.T. Shedd -
The imagery had a significant meaning to me as the boat represented a turbulent time in my life. In 2010, my wife and I moved back to Houston from Chicago and I was living a self-destructive lifestyle. I was beat up, had holes in my life, and was not in a place to do anything of significance.
Through years of spiritual, mental, and physical development I reached a point where I was ready to move on as a polished sailboat but I feared leaving my comfort for potential danger. July 2014 arrived and I was tired of comfort, it was time to set sail.
Before me was the unknown as I left the job I loved and decided to go back to school to attain my MBA, for me those were dangerous waters as I knew next to nothing about business. Over the next six months I struggled with balancing my life as all of a sudden I did not see my closest friends (former co-workers), school was difficult as I did not have formal training in business (I did not even know what a balance sheet was – gasp), and most devastating was not seeing my family. In my second semester I would see my son on Monday morning and then again on Friday morning as in-between those days and nights I was working, attending classes, participating in student organizations, and studying relentlessly to keep up with my classmates.
There were weeks where I felt stuck at sea with no direction, but I knew I needed to keep sailing towards the great unknown. As I sailed, some months were amazing as I was learning at a rapid pace, making new friends, and moving beyond my comfort. Each day presented new challenges, rewards, and a continuing building of confidence that I was headed in a direction, I still did not know what direction but I was going somewhere.
It took another year of sailing but I finally hit land with BizLatte! The journey across the sea of unknown was complete but there was the issue of the boat . . . do I keep it just in case I want to sail somewhere else or burn it and commit to this new endeavor? There is only one option. Now is the time to step onto new land commit to burning my boat.
For those still in harbor – leave! The world needs you, your ideas, and your dreams. Your abilities will only be realized if they are tested in the waters of uncertainty. For those that have sailed – burn your boat! You will never reach your full potential by constantly looking back. In front of you is unlimited potential, but only if you look forward. As a co-founder of BizLatte, my dream is for you to live a purposeful life. Connect when you are ready to set sail or burn your boat.
Favorite caffeinated beverage: Coffee with organic, grass-fed, unsalted butter! Don’t knock butter coffee until you've tried it!
Featured on CNN as Part of 20|20 Visionaries
Founded Elisha Consulting, LLC
Have Helped Successfully Launch 6 Start-Ups
Taught Anthropology Courses at The University of Houston and Houston Community College
“Words cannot express how much I have enjoyed getting to learn from you. Your enthusiasm for everything that you dive into is inspiring. I hope that I can one day be as motivated and determined.
Thank you for not only being an incredible teacher, but also a tremendous mentor. Thank you for thinking highly of me and being so encouraging. I definitely have you to thank for pushing me and giving me the confidence to pursue my goals.
I know that the world will be a better place because of all of the many lives you have touched.”
— Denny, Doctoral Candidate at the University of British Columbia in Vancouver