“I’d love some advice. It’s decision time.”

Jeff was poised on the edge of his seat, leaning on the table. He was at a crossroads: take a high profile job and move away from his family, or stay to join a fast-growing start-up business, or stay where he was in a comfortable and rewarding job. Risks and rewards for each option. Upsides and downsides too.

I could tell he could hear it. The call of the horizon, that is.

As humans, we are drawn to the endless view. The huge expanse before us, beckoning. The unknown, the adventure, the promise.

And yet we are held back. The easy familiar surrounds keep us cosy and safe. Strung between the known and the lure of other realms, we are bound.

Far too often we settle for what we know over that we don’t. We settle. We compromise. We justify.

Yet we ache for horizons lost. We yearn for tantalising newness. We crave the deliciousness of adventure – the exhilarating state of leading our lives, boundless.

Leaving shore is no easy thing. There are no guarantees of success. The waters are treacherous, the risks are real.

When I started my own business years ago my first year was a relentless stinging grip of fear and self doubt. Could I do this? Then I got cancer. My ship hit the rocks barely out of harbour.

I floundered for the next three years, shipwrecked in despair and frustration.

I landed on the shore of a great job and re-built myself from the ground up.

I stayed on that shore, looking out to sea for many years. I tried to silence the siren song, longing for the satisfying life of a job to be enough. It would be so much easier!

But the unknown adventure boiled within me.

French writer Andre Gide said,

“Man cannot discover new oceans unless he has the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

Eventually I could bare it no longer. I launched the ship again, a little more weathered, a little more determined. If we ran aground, if we were lost in storms, at least I left the shore to find out what waited for me, and what courage I might discover beyond borders.

I know Jeff feels the same adventurous hunger gnawing at him too. He’s ready. He is now outward bound, a ship leaving harbour.

There be dragons…

And so there were! And so I went.

What keeps you bound? What shore do you feel marooned on? What might you discover if you had the courage to leave the shore?



  • Zoë Routh

    Australia's Leadership Expert, Author of Book of the Year "People Stuff" l Speaker l Mentor l Strategist

    Zoë Routh is one of Australia’s leading experts on people stuff - the stuff that gets in our way of producing results, and the stuff that lights us up. She works with the growers, makers, builders to make people stuff fun and practical.

    Zoë is the author of four books: Composure - How centered leaders make the biggest impact,  Moments - Leadership when it matters most, Loyalty - Stop unwanted staff turnover, boost engagement, and build lifelong advocates, and People Stuff - Beyond Personalities: An advanced handbook for leadership. People Stuff was awarded Book of the Year 2020 by the Smart WFM Australian Business Book Awards.

    Zoë is also the producer of The Zoë Routh Leadership Podcast.