What We All Learn From The Starfish Story
We all have the power to make a difference in our own lives and those that are directly around us. It is often the small, everyday acts that make the biggest difference. Of all the fables I love the most, the story of the young boy and the starfish is number one.
It’s the tale of a young boy on a beach where thousands of starfish have been left behind by the tide and are at risk of dying in the hot sun. The child knows he has to get the starfish back to the safety of the water or they will bake to death in the sun.An old man sits nearby watching with interest as the young boy takes starfish after starfish back out into the water. The youngster hardly seems to be making a dent in the number that need rescuing, but still he persists.
The man walks over to the boy and tells him not to waste his time since he can’t possibly save all those starfish before they die so his efforts won’t make much difference. The boy nods as he tosses one more starfish back to the water and tells the old man that at least he has made a difference to that one.
The child saw the impact he could make even with small steps and celebrated being able to do what he could, even if he couldn’t solve the whole problem. He didn’t spend his time thinking mournful thoughts about what he couldn’t do and what he couldn’t achieve. Instead he took action and saved as many starfish as he could that day.
He regarded every returned starfish as a victory and claimed the joy that came with each successful step. It’s a beautiful story that professional speakers often use because so much can be learned from it. It reminds all of us on our journey to owning our awesome that we don’t need to perform grandiose acts to make a difference.
It is often the small everyday acts that change someone’s world. We all have the power to make a difference in our own lives and those who are directly around us. That power is a true gift. It allows us to shape our future. Like the little boy in the story, we need to celebrate our wins more often, even if those wins seem small. When we embrace gratitude for what we have it is easier to be satisfied with our effort and our results. We become more productive.
The boy in the story was happy and celebrated his small steps of saving one starfish at a time. What is memorable about that story is that over time he may well have saved thousands of starfish by small steps each day. Yet when most of us encounter this type of situation, our natural tendency is to call anything less than saving all of the starfish a failure. In adopting the positive perspective of the little boy, we can instead take a personal stand and commit to making a difference.
We must learn to surrender ourselves to what we cannot control, and focus our actions instead on what we can control. That will give us daily cause for celebration.
Paula Morand, CSP is a leadership building, revenue boosting, strategy expanding keynote speaker, author and visionary. This dreaming big and being bold leadership expert and brand strategist brings her vibrant energy, humor and wisdom to ignite individuals, organizations and communities to lead change, growth and bold impact. 23 years, 25,000 clients, 19 countries, 11 books, former radio personality, 10x award winning entrepreneur and humorous emcee.
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