The origin of “burning bridges” has its roots in ancient Rome. We see where they were not only burning the bridges but also burning the boats. In some cases, they burned the bridges and the boats so the enemy could not pursue them. And in other cases, they burned both bridge and boat so the enemy could not flee.
Throughout our journey in this life, we have all heard the expression or received guidance around burning bridges. It’s interesting because sometimes we are encouraged not to burn the bridges, and other times people may suggest that we burn the bridges behind us. In a recent conversation this topic came up and it was fun, but also a bit polarizing for the group as there were very strong opinions.
In doing a little research on the topic I stumbled onto a page with some audacious quotes about burning bridges. The list of quotes started out with some very strong feelings about why we should burn the bridges behind us. “Sometimes burning bridges isn’t a bad thing. It prevents you from going back to a place you should never have been to begin with.” — Anonymous
While others support not burning bridges such as the person who anonymously made this statement, “The bridge you burn today may be the one you have to cross tomorrow.”
For me, if at all possible, I prefer not to burn the bridges behind me. I do agree that there are times when moving ahead and never looking back makes sense. But before I do that, I would really rather preserve the opportunity to save a relationship, resolve a conflict, or just maintain the potential for a better outcome in the future. Just because we disagree today, doesn’t mean we will disagree tomorrow.
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Written by Michael “Go-To” Norton, XINNIX President, former CEO and Founder at Tramazing, former President of the Zig Ziglar Corporation, and former Executive Vice President of Sandler Corporate Training, Michael Norton has helped companies accelerate their growth by elevating their talent through learning and development programs.
Michael has had the pleasure of working with world-class companies such as Siemens Healthcare, WebMD, 7-Up, Cardinal Health, Cemex, Boral, HPE, Indeed, Lonza, KONE, Evonik, Quest Software, Dell, Anixter, and many more. for 30+ years he has developed, written, delivered, reinforced, and sold sales and sales management training programs that deliver real ROI while fitting into a company’s culture, processes, daily sales workflow, and budget.