Coast Guard 47' Motor Lifeboat in Morro Bay, CA 04 Dec 2007

“A ship in harbor is safe, but this is not what ships are built for.”

Sure, you could be safe. If you leave your boat at the dock, it’s unlikely that you’ll come into any kind of real harm. That said, why did you get the ship in the first place? Wasn’t it so that you could explore the open waters? Wasn’t it so you could challenge yourself to tame the seas and view the world from a whole new perspective?

It is positively true that all success carries the risk of failure, but you won’t achieve any sort of success if you don’t take that leap of faith. You don’t have to throw caution to the wind, per se, but you do need to let go. You need to take that chance. You need to realize your potential.

The quote above is said to come from a book called Salt from My Attic (1928) by John A. Shedd, but there don’t seem to be much in terms of records of this book. And that’s why there is some controversy about the rightful attribution of the above quote. Some sources attribute it to William Shedd, whereas others give credit to Rear Admiral Grace Hopper, Benazir Bhutto, or Grant M. Bright. There are several slight variations on the quote too, which certainly doesn’t help with narrowing down whoever said it first.

But the rightful attribution here doesn’t really matter; it’s the core message that matters. You don’t buy the fancy sportscar to leave it in the garage. You don’t buy the expensive computer and then never turn it on. These products were built with a purpose in mind and they need to be used for that purpose. Your life is much the same. You could be safe, but you’re not doing everything that you could do. You’re not doing what you love or giving yourself the chance at achieving monumental success.

You really won’t know what you’re capable of doing until you push yourself to the limits of your capabilities. It is in this grey area that you’ll encounter the greatest dangers, to be sure, but it’s also where you give yourself the chance at something amazing.