1885 Tall Ship Wavertree Plimsoll Mark

1885 Tall Ship Wavertree Plimsoll Mark

Cargo ships carry mysterious markings on their hulls’ midship. Turns out the marks are called Plimsoll Lines and they’re used for safety of the ship and her crew.

You see, the Plimsoll lines declare at a glance whether the ship is carrying a safe amount of cargo through various conditions. Overloaded ships are good for owners’ wallets but horrible risk to crews’ lives.

If the lines are visible, there’s a good chance the ship is seaworthy. Otherwise, you don’t want to board that ship until they unload some cargo.

Mark Your Life

It’s mission critical that we install and honor Plimsoll Lines in our own lives. Some might call them boundaries, or not-to-do lists, or rumble strips.

The specifics could be different for everyone. For me, it’s how I respond to frustration, how I relate to Wonder Woman Grace and the littles, or how little sleep I’m getting, or if eczema breaks out.

They’re signs that enable us navigate life and provide early warning indicators when we’ve surpassed our load-bearing capacity. Whatever stuff, projects, work is in your cargo hold, it’s not worth sinking the entire ship.

We need courage and faith to only carry what we’re called to accomplish on this leg of the voyage. We have to make difficult decisions about when we need to jettison weight — preferably before the storm hits, before you’re in panic mode.

Clear conviction and priority help define our Plimsoll Lines. It may even mean you should take a break, put anchor down in harbor port and offload any stowaways to avoid stubbornly pushing on and ending up as wreckage.

There’s no greater value than ensuring the sea worthiness of your vessel and those you carry on toward distant shores.

Beware of little expenses. A small leak will sink a great ship.

Benjamin Franklin, polymath, statesman, scientist, inventor circa 1750

Three quick action questions:

  1. What are your Plimsoll Lines?
  2. Where’s the water level on your Plimsoll Line today?
  3. What do you need to jettison to keep you (and your loved ones, your crew) above water?

(H/T South Street Seaport Museum)


Heartbreaks and breakthroughs.

Insane highs and lows.

Experiments and new rhythms.

Hell and/or high water.

Wherever you are in the turbulence, do not lose heart.

Be strong and very courageous.

I’m reminded that we need compassion not only for one another — but more than ever for ourselves as we navigate these uncharted waters

I didn’t fail the test, I just found 100 ways to do it wrong.

Benjamin Franklin, polymath, statesman, scientist, inventor circa 1750

A Simple Brain Hack. 3 Letters.

And if/when you feel discouraged, add the word YET.

As in, when you think: “I’m not good enough.”

What we really need to hear and say is, “I’m not good enough … YET.”

What do you feel discouraged about?

Add “YET.”

It’s not wishful thinking. Not a mind trick.

It’s speaking truth against the tyranny of stuckness.

It’s a declaration of independence from apathy, condemnation, and shame.

YET busts us out of despair.

YET opens us to finding new solutions.

YET roots our identities in learning.

YET calls for help.

YET means when you fail, recover and strengthen your brothers.

YET holds the “perfect plan” loosely.

YET looks forward, and doesn’t look backward.

YET invites you on an adventure not to a destination.

YET is the truth that can set you free from false limiting beliefs.


If you get a failing grade, you think, I’m nothing, I’m nowhere. But if you get the grade “Not Yet” you understand that you’re on a learning curve. It gives you a path into the future.

Carol Dweck, PhD, developmental psychologist, Stanford University, circa 2015


One of our fellow crew members couldn’t have children … YET.

In the depths of the pandemic, it seemed impossible.

But they kept at the mission — one step at a time.

And a couple months back after some miraculous circumstances, they adopted a baby son and brought him home.

While you have breath go at it.

Failure is not a definition, a state of being, or an identity.

Mistakes/missteps are just waypoints about how to improve next time.

Always on the way to better.

Add Another Critical Three Letter Word

As I mentioned last time, I bought an empty Fuente Fuente OpusX Bellicoso cigar box.

The wood box held my dream of a musical instrument.

But the box sat for 8 years. Taking space.

It found a secondary use, holding some stuff. But that’s not fulfilling its destiny.

At first, when I picked up the box to make a ukulele, I felt silly so many years had passed.

And then I heard Neil Gaiman explain how he had an idea for a story but realized he wasn’t good enough to write it … yet.

So, he put the story idea on the shelf.

Gaiman waited — practiced — before he took the story idea back out and crafted it into an award-winning bestselling book called The Graveyard Book.

How long? Ten (10) years.

Now, I didn’t make an award-winning best-selling ukulele. But I recognized now I wasn’t ready years ago to make this ukulele… yet.

I needed to learn patience, planning, and various tools.

I also needed a stronger ‘why.

Sometimes we’re not ready because we don’t want it enough… yet.

Yes, I wanted to make an instrument. But that wasn’t enough of a ‘why.’

But now, I made the ukulele to bond with my son — who wanted to learn how to play.

And it was important to me as well that he see me doing the work. Especially when I made a mess and I sent him sprinting down the hallway multiple times to get paper towels to wipe up glue.

He needs to see that there’s mess in the practice but when you persevere maybe you make something special.

Maybe you go from a box to an instrument. From taking space to making meaning.