A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for.

A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for.Grace Hopper (Rear Admiral, USN) – Also seen as attributed to William Shedd.

This ship lives for the surf, not for the harbor.

What does that mean?
Well, this one is fairly self explanatory. A ship may be safe in a harbor, but if you wanted something safe, you would have built a fortress, not a ship. A ship, by nature of being lighter than water, is vulnerable to the wind and waves, the rocks and reefs and enemy action. But unlike a fortress, it can move wherever the wind and waves (and crew) choose to go.

A ship exists to ply the seas, to split the waves, to brave the weather and go to distant ports. Whether to trade goods, impress the locals, or bring the wrath of a nation, ships exist to go places. In a harbor they are almost useless. Out of harbor, they are at risk.

Why is a balance between safety and risk important?  
Safety is nice, but when you are completely safe, you really can’t do much. To do things, you have to leave at least some of your safety behind and take risks. While prudence has a prominent role in balancing safety and risk, what you have in the absence of risk is hardly much of a life.

Risk is what ships are built for. They balance the risks of the seas and waves by designing how high the sides of the ships are. Compare seagoing craft to those on small lakes or rivers. Weaponry, propulsion, crew quarters, cargo and all other aspects of seafaring life are a balance of safety and risk.

Where can I apply this in my life?
To some, racing is a thrill they cannot give up. Dirt track, motorcycles, dragsters, trucks or bicycles. The balance of safety and risk says they should use proper safety gear, and only do their racing on a closed course away from bystanders.

Those who do not follow the path of prudence, and fail to balance safety with the risk (and the thrill) can end up hurting themselves or worse, hurt others. Sometimes you even hear of a street race ending in a fatality. That is not the path of prudence nor of intelligence.

When I went skydiving, I had plenty of trepidations. However, the leader of the group was a former Air Force Dive Master, so I felt comfortable with his vetting of the people we would be diving with. His experience allowed me to feel safe enough to take the risk (and experience the thrill).

The point of balancing safety and risk is to provide a reasonable reassurance of safety. This helps to assuage fear and trepidation, allowing one to move forward and do that which you would otherwise fear to do.

Grab some paper and write down a couple of things you want to do, but are afraid to leave the safety of your harbor to experience. They can be little things (like trying some exotic food) or something bigger (like skydiving or swimming the Channel).

For each of the things you want to do, list all the safety concerns you have. Once you have those listed, consider each of the things, one at a time. Consider what it would take to make you feel safer or have more confidence for your security.

Consider what information you could gather to help you better understand the risks, and therefore minimize them. Who could you ask to help teach you a needed skill, to help you feel more confident? Is there an expert who can help you better understand the implications of your actions, and help you become more conscientious and therefore, safer? Can you take classes or get training?

Look at each safety concern you have and look to find a way to minimize it. Also consider alternatives. Do you have to skydive solo, or would you consider a tandem jump (where an expert sky diver is literally strapped to your back) for added safety?

In the end, only you can decide if the risk is worth it, but if all you ever do is hide in your fortress, you probably aren’t going to enjoy life as much as you would if you were out there living it.

From: Twitter, @QuoteHouse
confirmed at : http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/g/gracehoppe125849.html

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One Response to A ship is safe in harbour, but that’s not what ships are for.

  1. Leatrice Dabbraccio 29 September 2011 at 7:38 am #

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