During the 1800s when Britain was a world trading giant, owners and investors would cram their ships full of goods to trade for exotic items to sell at home.
The problem was that some ships were so full that they sank in the harbor. Other ships would sail out to sea and the first storm they encountered sank the ship. The cargo and crew were lost at sea.
Eventually, a mathematician named Plimsol figured out a formula of how many pounds of cargo could safely be put on a ship. His calculations factored in the size of the ship and the amount of water displaced by the weight of the cargo put on the ship. Every ship was required to have a Plimsol line or painted on it as an indicator that the ship had reached its safe capacity.
When the Plimsol line hit the water, the owners of the ship weren’t allowed to put anymore cargo on the ship. If the Plimsol line disappeared under the water, the ship wasn’t allowed to leave the harbor until enough cargo was removed so that the Plimsol line was visible again.
After that, a lot more ships survived their journeys.
I’m happy to serve and help others when I can. But there are times when I can’t add one more thing to my life. That’s when I say, “thank you for thinking of me, but I’ve reached my Plimsol line. If I put anything else in my life right now, I’m in danger of sinking in the harbor.”
If you ever reach the end of your capabilities, I hope you’ll speak up and let others know that you’ve reached your Plimsol line.
It’s okay to say “no, not today.”