An old man was walking along the beach and saw a little boy occasionally bending down, picking up an object, and throwing it into the ocean. As the old man came closer, he called out to the little boy and said, “Good Morning! May I ask what you’re doing?”
The little boy paused, looked up at the old man, and replied, “I’m throwing starfish back into the ocean. The tide washed them up onto the beach and they can’t return to the ocean by themselves. As the sun gets higher, they will begin to die unless I throw them back into the water.”
The old man looked around and shaking his head, said, “But there are tens of thousands of starfish on this beach. I’m afraid you won’t really be able to make much of a difference.”
The little boy bent down, picked up another starfish and gently tossed it back into the water. Then he turned to the old man and with a smile, said, “It made a difference for that one.” (Adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley)
As we maneuver through life, we tend to forget our big ambitions and wide-eyed dreams. We get caught up in the daily grind and settle for mediocre. Somewhere between graduating high school and middle age, we forget to see the wonder that’s all around us. We lose the little boy optimism and slowly shift to the old man’s pessimism. We forget that what we do matters.
People may not know our names and we may not have a wildly successful syndicated television show, but who ever said that is the only way success is measured? We wake up knowing there are problems and issues bigger than ourselves. While we may not be able to end global hunger, drug trafficking, or political unrest, we can make a difference even if it’s only for one. Sometimes the smallest and most unexpected act of kindness creates a lifetime impact even if it’s only for one. Success is measured by the difference we make every day.
This weekly blog was started with a simple focus and passion for higher education. If it has made an impact even for one, it has been a success. Sometimes we can lose sight of our purpose to make a positive difference. We may not always know the extent of our impact, but even when it doesn’t feel like it, what we do matters. It matters to that one person having a bad day or to a student struggling to succeed while making ends meet. Every individual can look in their past and recall one simple act or word of kindness that made all the difference in their life, their perspective, and their future.
Whether you work in higher education, at a promising start-up, as a stay-at-home mom, or in a retail store, what you do matters even if it’s only for one.
“Persistence. It’s that certain little spirit that compels you to continue just when you’re at your most tired. It’s that quality that forces you to persevere, find the route around the stone wall. It’s the immovable stubbornness that will not allow you to cave in when everyone says give up.” ~ Estee Lauder
How do you make a difference every day even if it’s only for one?