I asked participants in my current Results Leaders course to read something—a book snipped, an article, or a quote—and tell me what it meant to them. Jennifer, a supervisor in Manatee County Florida picked a quote by William Shedd: “A ship in harbor is safe but that is not what ships are built for.” She said it reminded her to venture forth. Like most quotes, I find it useful to dig a bit, and as close to home as possible.
Part of venturing is physical. Ships move into open water. Their motion is intentional. Ships have destinations. How about us when we move? Do we have intentions to get somewhere—whether on the map or in our own performance? Not always. Indeed, I find that the most frenetic motion is often without clear discernable purpose. Humans, like ships, who burn energy without going anywhere are in a bad place. They are literally letting off steam rather than using it.
Sometimes, staying in place is assuredly good. Consider the GPS systems that keep a refueling ship at the same spot. But when it comes to people, we spend the energy not to stay stable but to stay safe. Our ship in harbor is at a pleasurable anchor. We welcome and are given viewpoints and information, for example, with which we will predictably agree. This is the other side of venturing—motion of the mind.
Let’s vow to set sail more often.