The Starfish Story, and how you can make a difference

Make a difference

There’s no question that the world feels chaotic and unpredictable, and often we’re left wondering how we can make a difference. It’s scary to read the news and hear about natural disasters, war, and the suffering of fellow people. There are days when I struggle to process the tragedies that are occurring. I feel overwhelmed with frustration that there’s so little I can do to help.


And then I remember the starfish story. The first time I heard it, I dismissed it. I’m a person who’s always had grandiose plans for how I’m going to help the world. I look to people like Nelson Mandela as my role models – people who change the course of history through their work.


I’m not quite at the Nelson Mandel level of world impact. And yet, I can’t help but notice that the efforts that I make day-to-day, person-to-person, make a difference too. They’re also much easier for me to control and initiate – it can be hard to know how you’re changing the world while you’re doing the work!


Today, instead of the usual business advice I post, I want to share The Starfish Story with you. It’s especially important to remember that we do have power, and we can impact change in the moments when we feel helpless. We can make a difference.


The Starfish Story – adapted from Loren Eiseley 


One day a man was walking down the beach when he noticed a young boy picking something up and throwing it gently into the ocean.


Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?”


The boy replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The tide is going out, and if I don’t throw them back they will die.”


“Son,” the man replied, “don’t you realize there are miles and miles of beach, and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”


After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back in the water. Then, smiling at the man, he said, “I made a difference to that one.”




You can make a difference. In fact, you already are.

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