(mostly) daily photoblog

Would you save a starfish?

I teach student leadership.  There’s a story that I tell my students when they start to feel a little down about how much impact they’re making in our school.  It goes like this:  Many starfish washed up on shore.  A young boy started picking them up and throwing them back into the ocean.  Someone saw what he was doing and told him that it was pointless, that there were too many to save, that it wouldn’t make a difference.  Throwing another starfish into the sea, the little boy responded, “It makes a difference to this one.”   I’m sure you’ve read this story before, or heard it told by someone who was encouraging you that your small efforts were making a difference.  There are also many more elegant versions, but the idea is the same.

While I was watching my kids on the beach in Oregon, I watched my daughter, with all of her innocence and curiosity, trying to figure out what would happen to this little starfish as the tide went out.  It left itself stranded in a tide pool and Hannah wandered over to me and asked, “Should I move it?”  I told her it was up to her.  She did and I hope that she’ll continue to make a difference in even the smallest creatures as she grows up.

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10 responses

  1. Exactly so true!! Never think things are little and then we don’t do it. You actually never know it maybe can help a lot to someone else.

    August 7, 2011 at 7:05 pm

    • Everyday experiences are much more important than the big events when it comes to making an impact.

      August 7, 2011 at 7:13 pm

  2. I love the illustration. I’ve heard several versions but they all mean the same thing. And the story of your daughter is so sweet, and shows the sensibilities of your household. A good reminder that no matter how small the gesture, something done with kindness can make a huge difference in someone’s life. Thank you.

    August 7, 2011 at 7:45 pm

    • Aw, thanks. I always hope that my kids will learn to be compassionate and kind and it’s nice to see when that shows through their actions.

      August 7, 2011 at 7:56 pm

  3. thank you for sharing this. at a nonprofit i used to work at, we always gave a scroll with this story printed on it to the incoming volunteer leaders as inspiration. thank you for the reminder. great photo, too!

    August 7, 2011 at 9:16 pm

    • I work with an amazing group called the boomerang project and one of the things we give out to the behind-the-scenes people who work with us is a little starfish pin that says “I make a difference” and we get them from the awesome people at Boomerang. I wear one pretty regularly to remind me that I should be making a difference.

      August 7, 2011 at 9:37 pm

  4. Great story… more important lesson. Perfect photo to match!!

    August 7, 2011 at 10:20 pm

    • Thanks. The compliment on the photo means a lot.

      August 7, 2011 at 11:14 pm

  5. elmediat

    Well done – photograph, blog post, & parenting.

    August 8, 2011 at 8:59 pm

    • Thanks for the support.

      August 8, 2011 at 9:08 pm