The Starfish

In life and especially this field you will always meet the Can’t people. You know:

“You can’t ACTUALLY make a difference”

“You can’t BELIEVE the world is getting any better”

“Why can’t YOU be realistic?”

“Why can’t you find a cause that CAN make more money?”


I was told this story years ago and it has stayed with me. I remind myself of it whenever I feel the world is too big or to overwhelming.

While walking along a beach, an elderly gentleman saw someone in the distance leaning down, picking something up and throwing it into the ocean.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young boy, picking up starfish one by one and tossing each one gently back into the water.

He came closer still and called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The boy paused, looked up, and replied “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

The old man smiled, and said, “I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?”

To this, the boy replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the elderly observer commented, “But, young man, do you not realise that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

The boy listened politely. Then he bent down, picked up another starfish, threw it into the back into the ocean past the breaking waves and said, “It made a difference for that one.”

Never underestimate the power of an individual action. To showcase the starfish I have chosen a unique quality of some organizations that I think makes the organization special so look for the starfish.


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