Courage to Lose Sight of the Shore

Last week I had the privilege of gathering with my colleagues at New Level Results (NLR) for an associates day. Whilst there I was reminded again of the story of the journey of the coxless four who crossed the Pacific Ocean. It was a journey NLR was involved in. The standout words for me from one of the all-female crew was that if you want to cross the ocean you have to be prepared to lose sight of the shore.

She was quoting from something Christopher Columbus said:

“You can never cross the ocean until you have the courage to lose sight of the shore.”

This group of women had never attempted anything like this. It was an 8,000 mile journey from start to finish. It wasn’t achieved by accident; they needed be well organised, have the right perspective on the task, and overcome many hurdles even before they started rowing.

Their story reminds me that we all have fears of one kind or another. The question is whether you allow those fears to define you. You don’t know whether you can do something until you attempt it. As the coxless crew four discovered, if you are prepared to lose sight of the shore in all sorts of ways, you can find that you achieve far more than you can imagine.

It may be that you want to operate in a different way at work or wish for a better workplace culture. It could be you are thinking of stepping out and launching your own company. These things are usually initiated by a desire for a different result than you are currently getting. Here is the thing, you will not get a different outcome unless you change something.

“Insanity is doing the same things over and over and expecting different results.” Albert Einstein

What is the shore you need to lose sight of in order to cross the ocean of your possibility?

There are things you can do which will help you to navigate away from what you have known and discover what you are capable of. You may not break two world records as the coxless four, but you will have explored a different way with greater satisfaction.

Three principles successful leaders use to leave shore:

1. Remember every journey starts with the first step. Deciding you are going to do something to change your circumstances can be daunting. There is comfort in what you know. Some kind of discomfort will drive your decision. You rarely change anything when you are comfortable. You will not be able to see every step, you can however see the first one. You will never know the opportunities available without moving along the path of a new direction. Take the first step to see what may transpire.

2. To make any kind of journey you need to have a plan, a roadmap if you like. You wouldn’t dream of going somewhere in your car without planning a route. The same is true of moving into something new with your career, your team or organisation. Your plan will not generally work out all the way through, but it will help you prepare for what comes up.

3. In my experience if you want to reach your destination then you need to be accountable for the implementation of your plan. Having someone check in with you to help you make the adjustments needed to get there is crucial. Many great plans end up on the rubbish tip of inaction. A coach or trusted friend/mentor is a great way to stay on track.

Losing sight of the shore can be unnerving on many levels, so don’t attempt it alone. The coxless four who rowed across the Pacific certainly had support and made it clear they would not have succeeded without the help of an NLR coach and many others. To find out how you can get similar support as an NLR associate coach you can email me at

If you want to see more about the coxless crew look on p18-19 here

Photo by Rachel Claire

Mark Billage

Mark Billage

Mark’s passion is to help realise individuals’ potential, be they leaders or team members, through empowering organisational culture. He has spent 7 years leading an organisation based in the non profit sector. In that time, he focused on creating a culture that enabled and empowered individuals, with the aim of seeing a high performing team better able to achieve the organisation’s mission.

Our Vision

To train and equip leaders to transform culture, build successful teams and organisations where everyone is seen, heard and valued for their unique contribution.

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