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Prompted: Outward Bound
Betting on yourself and leaving the safety of harbor for the open seas.
I never heard the phrase “outward bound” until last week. I could tell it would become a reminder that I would come back to again and again and I hope it sticks in your mind to push you towards new adventures as well.
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A man can pretend to be a lot of things in this world; but he can only pretend to be a sailor for as long as it takes to clear the harbor mouth.
- Bernard Hayman
Outward Bound is the nautical term for a ship that’s leaving safe harbor and heading out to the open sea.
For every sailor that’s departed on a big journey, this is the point of no return. Once the ship sets sail across an ocean there’s very little that will turn it around. Although the image of Colombus leaving safe harbor to discover the new world seems dramatic, we all experience the feeling of turning outward bound when we embark on our own journeys.
The difficulty of each journey is relative and taking your first steps is just as challenging as running your first marathon. Regardless of the scale, every meaningful journey begins when you leave your comfort zone for the open water. You can prepare as much as you want beforehand, but leaving the harbor and raising the stakes is the only way to know what you’re truly capable of.
When I was taking swim lessons as a kid, I could swim all day long with the instructor standing next to me because I knew if anything went wrong I had a safety net. It was only when they asked me to swim across the pool without the instructor that I clung to the wall crying.
Eventually, I pushed off the wall and swam across, but the most difficult part of the experience wasn’t swimming across the pool. Instead, it was building up the courage to push away from the wall and test what I had learned.
Often the hardest part of a new journey is just getting started. Turning your ship outward bound is betting on yourself. It’s operating without a safety net. It’s the only way to prove to ourselves that we’re capable of facing adversity. Otherwise, it’s too easy to sail around in calm waters preparing and practicing but never truly knowing what we’re capable of.
Ships weren’t built to sit in protected harbors. To continue moving forward we need to begin new journeys — turning our ship outward bound, discovering things about ourselves, and developing new skills. After each new journey, whether it’s a success or failure, we will be better prepared to take on the next challenge.
Where am I sitting in a safe harbor instead of heading outward bound?
What fears do I have about leaving a safe harbor?
What can I learn by challenging myself in an unprotected environment?
A video discussing the benefits of stepping outside your safe harbor.
A blog post advocating not for a blind leap of faith, but instead a calculated jump into new territory backed by your knowledge and skills.
Thanks for reading! I’ll see you next Sunday.