a resource, my insights, and news

Safe Harbour
Jun 24, 2014

Safe Harbour

A ship in the harbour is safe, but that is not what ships are built for.

William Shedd

We all want, and need, safety. In Maslow's hierarchy of needs, safety and security are second only to the physical needs of food and water, and breath.

In our careers, we can often take the 'easy' road.  The path of least resistance   We do things the same way, accept the status quo, work in the same industry. Opportunities present themselves and we either take them, if they feel familiar, and low risk, or refuse them, if our sense of security or safety is challenged.  We imagine all of the things that could go wrong, magnify them, and assume they will ALL happen, instead of focusing on the possibilities, and relishing them.

I worked with a client recently who was contemplating a change in direction.  This idea had been bubbling along for a while, but she kept finding reasons why she couldn't do it. She said that she had never really succeeded because she  told me that everything in her life had been 'presented' to her.  This is called the 'Imposter Syndrome', where we think that any day now the people we work with are going to find out we are not really as good as everyone thinks we are.  Never mind that she worked hard to study her chosen degree after just missing out on getting into that course when she first left school; that she had, with a colleague, started her own firm; that she had had two children and still managed to be a business owner, and employer, and an engaged mother; that she made enormous contributions to her profession.  In her mind, she had never been really challenged  before, so therefore the risk of failing was unlikely.

I recalled an article I read called The Elegant Secret to Self-Discipline by David Cain.  If we are currently experiencing the result of decisions of our past selves; then the decision we make today contribute to our future selves.

Her 'safe harbour' was the familiar path she had trodden for the previous 10 years — and yet she was passionate about the area of practice to which she wanted to move.  The more she spoke of it, the clearer it became. Decisions she made about her career in the past moulded the person she was now, and where she was; so too, would decisions made TODAY, affect her future self.  So we sat down together and worked out what the rough seas were likely to be; what challenges might present themselves and what the response will be.

It was an incredibly exhilerating meeting for both of us.

And she will do it.  I know she will.

Are you forever moored in a safe harbour?  You might need to 'up anchor' and sail away...