3 April 2017

Head of Junior School

Playing it safe or throwing caution to the wind?

'Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn't do than by the ones you did do. So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.' Mark Twain

As a child or young person, it is difficult to think about where you might be in 10 or 20 years' time. Our children might have a family, a good job or might even be living in a different country. The part of the quote I will be exploring in this article is 'So throw off the bowlines. Sail away from the safe harbour. Catch the trade winds in your sails. Explore. Dream. Discover.'

We are very good at concentrating on what keeps us safe and keeps us in a place where we are comfortable. A place where taking risks is a bit too much to contemplate at times. Risks are the things that make us feel uncomfortable, that take us out of our comfort zones. I am not talking about being reckless. Some things are there to protect and help us. Mark Twain is talking about risks that make us who we are.

We may avoid an opportunity because of a fear of failure. Many people who have been successful in a wide range of careers and pursuits have learned to overcome that fear and embrace what one can learn from failure.

Mark Twain also speaks about 'discover'. By stepping out of your comfort zone and doing something that you haven't ever done before, or something that might mean you fail, you will discover a lot about yourself. You may find that you have a talent for something, or that you really enjoy a new or different activity. You may discover that you have strengths you never imagined that you did.

Don't be afraid to fail. Don't ever be worried about lack of success. Most people who we think of as amazing successes, who have discovered something essential to life and will all have failed at some point. Thomas Edison and JK Rowling did not give up. They kept on and on, continually out of their comfort zones. If they had decided at the first hurdle not to continue because they weren't comfortable with taking risks and feeling as if they weren't getting anywhere, then the world of science and literature would have been poorer for it. By stepping out of their comfort zones, and not being afraid to take a risk, they discovered wonderful things about themselves and about humanity.

If we don't take risks and go beyond our comfort zones; if we don't cast off the 'bowlines', how will we ever know what we could have achieved? As Mark Twain's has said, think about how we, either today or in the future, can step out of our comfort zones, and discover more about ourselves and the world.

Mr John Stewart
Head of Junior School