One morning, a man was taking a stroll down the beach. As he walked, he could see something in the distance among the sand. Getting closer, the man realized what it was. Hundreds, perhaps thousands, of starfish were scattered across the beach, withering in the heat of the sun. He got to work immediately and, one by one, began to gather up the starfish and throw them back into the sea.
Another man that was walking down the beach behind this man eventually caught up to him. Upon seeing the man, he stops. “Pardon me, but… what exactly are you doing?” he asks.
“I’m throwing these starfish back into the sea,” the first replies, turning to face him. “They’ll die if they don’t get back to the ocean.”
“Are you kidding?” the second asks increduously. “There are hundreds of starfish on this beach! Probably even thousands! Do you honestly think you can make a difference? You can’t.”
The first man smiles, picks up another starfish, and throws it to the ocean. “Made a difference to that one,” he says as he reaches for another. “And that one,” as he throws the next into the water.
Many of us have heard or read this parable before. There’s no ultimate way of telling it, as far as I know, so I just wrote it how it played out in my mind. The moral of the parable is simple: everyone can make a difference. No matter how big the task is, no matter how small our forces are, a difference can always be made. It always begins with one person, and all it takes is one starfish. So go find a starfish and throw it back into the ocean!