Some choices can't be unmade.
The phrase "Crossing the Rubicon" means deliberately going past the point of no return. It refers to when Julius Caesar and his army crossed the Rubicon River into the Republic of Italy in 49 BC.
At the time, Roman generals were not allowed to bring their troops into the Republic; when Caesar chose to cross the river boundary he knew full well it would trigger a civil war.
This decision changed everything. A year later, Caesar ruled the Roman empire.
Here are three things we can learn from Caesar’s strategy:
1. Choice Reflects Commitment
Upon crossing the Rubicon, Caesar reportedly muttered “Alea iacta est".
"The die is cast."
The road ahead was uncertain. Failure was possible. But Caesar was now committed to seeing the process through no matter what.
When we choose to roll the dice, we don't just surrender our future to fate; we help shape it. We acknowledge the risk, make a commitment, and don't look back.
2. One Decision Sparks Many
Caesar’s crossing of the Rubicon set off a impressive 27-day march to destroy the Pompeian army. In the Battle of Ilerda, Pompeian forces were left 200 men down and 600 wounded. Caesar lost only 70.
Big decisions give us leverage on ourselves. When we go past a point of no return, whether real or imagined, we often unleash the untapped mental and physical energy we need to finish the job.
All of a sudden, we feel more sure of our decision (i.e. confirmation bias). Opportunities start falling into our lap. People come out of the woodwork to help us.
When our motivation is no longer caught up in whether or not to move forward, we accomplish in days what would have otherwise taken us months or even years.
3. Forward is Better Than Behind
Caesar didn’t have to burn any bridges to begin his campaign. He didn’t have to instill additional fear. He was motivated by the better future he knew was possible.
Less than a year after crossing the Rubicon, Caesar returned to Rome as its appointed leader.
Where we choose to go is far more important than what we leave behind. Sure, it can be tempting in the short-term to dwell on (and convey to others) what we’re moving away from. But it’s far more effective (and attractive) to focus on the things we’re moving towards.
Two weeks ago I "Crossed the Rubicon" in own career by deciding to pursue my coaching business full-time. As soon as I told people about my decision, I felt an incredible sense of relief. All that’s left now is to keep marching forward.
Will you join me on this side of the river?
If the answer is yes, I'd love to hear from you. Send me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org and tell me about the big decision you're looking to make in your life or career.