Press "Enter" to skip to content

This Starfish2 min read

By Rebecca Goldberg

Someone once told me this fable: 

One day, an old man was walking along a beach that was littered with thousands of starfish that had been washed ashore by the high tide. As he walked, he came upon a young boy who was eagerly throwing the starfish back into the ocean, one by one. Puzzled, the man looked at the boy and asked what he was doing. Without looking up from his task, the boy simply replied, “I’m saving these starfish, Sir.” The old man chuckled aloud, “Son, there are thousands of starfish and only one of you. What difference can you make?” The boy picked up a starfish, gently tossed it into the water and turned to the man, said, “I made a difference to that one!”

I think about that story often, especially in times when I feel helpless. As someone who always wants to have the biggest impact and can easily get lost in the daunting facts tied to issues facing society, I often have to remind myself that the small things truly add up. If it’s a $20 donation, 2 hours volunteering at a soup pantry, or my reusable coffee mug that I lug around when I used to go to coffee shops, it matters. It matters because it makes a difference today, and it makes a bigger difference tomorrow. The decisions we make every day send a signal to those around us. And when we act; we inspire, motivate and start something. 

In light of all the things going on right now, I can’t help but think about all those starfish. The issues and the needs surrounding this horrible epidemic seem to be like those thousands of starfish. However, when I see companies, individuals and leaders making compelling efforts to support relief efforts associated with COVID-19, such as Dyson delivering ventilators to hospitals, or The Gap using its factories to make masks for healthcare workers, and Russell Wilson donating a million meals to the Seattle community…I remember that story. 

It is also my hope that once we get past this nightmare (and we will) that we don’t stop these efforts, that it actually propels something more. Yes, LVMH might go back to making perfume instead of hand sanitizer and GM can hopefully stop producing ventilators but what if they don’t fully stop doing something more… that they continue to utilize a portion of their resources to tackle all the other issues facing our society today… Imagine then what we could accomplish? Can this crisis change the way our businesses fundamentally operate? Can companies embed these efforts into their business models to redefine what it means to be a successful and sustainable organization? 

I truly believe if every person and every company begin to think differently about their role in society, it will add up…and eventually we can get all the starfish back into the sea. 

Art Credit: Hillary Sorrentino

Mission News Theme by Compete Themes.