Burn the Ships 🔥

A long while ago, a great warrior had to make a decision which ensured his success on the battlefield. He was about to send his armies against a powerful foe, whose men outnumbered his own.

He loaded his soldiers into boats, sailed to the enemy’s country, unloaded soldiers and equipment, then gave the order to burn the ships that had carried them.

Addressing his men before the first battle, he said, ‘You see the boats going up in smoke. That means that we cannot leave these shores alive unless we win! We now have no choice - we win or we perish!’

They won. ~ Napoleon Hill


While war is atrocious & I would never wish upon anyone the high stakes ethical dilemma of a wartime command to physically burn ships, I think that the idea of “burning the ships” is a really neat example of a collective action schelling point.

  1. Before the ships are burned, people may be split between planning to go home or move forward.
  2. After the ships are burned, people must focus 100% on the path forward.

burn the ships: To cut oneself off from all chance of retreat; to stake everything on success. [source: wiktionary]

I’ve seen this a couple of times through the years. A few Gitcoin examples:

  1. 2017 - Only by letting go of independence could Gitcoin get funded by Consensys, and through intros from Joe Lubin, begin partnering with top tier teams in the space.
  2. 2021 - Only by letting go of the safety net of Consensys funding & turning the team could Gitcoin embrace the DAO future.
  3. 2022 - Only by decentralizing power by passing the torch could the DAO truly embrace decentralized governance.
  4. 2023 - Only by abandoning the centralized monolithic Grants product could the DAO fully focus on it’s decentralized & modular Grants Stack.

I’m sure there are numerous other examples at Gitcoin through the years! If you have an example of where you had to go all in on something, feel free to share below.


Napoleon’s story is much more dramatic and Gitcoin’s decision-making is extraordinary :zap:. Mine happened through the mid-twenties crisis (it’s a thing). It is a story of self-reflection and a mindset shift about how I define “my work”. This summer I’ve decided to focus on only the regenerative blockchain ecosystem. Also, contribute and enter a regen project after I work with nft gaming projects and startups. I was burned out.
I gave myself 2.5 months and started to learn the space, the actors, access the resources and keep myself engaged and informed while I’m aiming to meet people who have similar values. After 2 months I jump into another profit-focused entity because of FOMO and anxiety but I came to the same point where I began the last summer. Being profit focused or opportunistic is not solely a bad thing but luckily, meaning and community have always been more important to me. I’ve come to the point that I’m not gonna give my time and energy to anything that is not trying to create an impact and change the value system anymore. Decided to trust my intuition. I noticed that my ambition is the power I have and what keeps me going. This is the most important thing I have before my skillset. Even though we all have limited resources, ambition is the fuel that reaches us to the world we ensueño :new_moon_with_face:. let’s not let our fears beat anything and focus on what is under control with these limited resources. Focus on the right things. :anatomical_heart:

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Is anyone out there working on a web3 project that is in trouble financially during the long bear?

how are you setting a collection action schelling point towards success?