Recently, I spent a weekend in Mexico volunteering through a company called “The Greatness Foundation”. We built a house for a family in need, visited orphanages, and added love to the community. It was a very emotional and heart-filling experience and I am so grateful for it. It provided an immense amount of perspective in two very powerful ways.
First, for the blessings and privileges I live with on a daily basis that I often take for granted, and second for the realization of what poverty looks like in the world and how widespread it is. The work we did in one community, and specifically for one family is life-changing, but knowing that one family is just a grain of sand compared to all of the people in need was overwhelming to me.
That’s where the story of the starfish comes in. The founder of the Greatness Foundation, Mike Sherbakov, shared a story that put our volunteer work this weekend all in perspective.
A girl is on a beach and on by one, bending over, picking up a starfish, and throwing it into the ocean. The tide was low on a hot summer day, and all of the starfish were bound to be dried up before the tide came back.
An old, cynical man walks up to her and says “what are you doing?”
She answers “I’m saving the starfish, they’re going to die if I don’t help”.
The man replies, “there’s miles of beach in each direction with thousands of starfish, there’s nothing you could do to make a difference”.
The girl picks up one starfish, throws it in the ocean, and says “I made a difference for that one”.
The truth of the world’s problems are huge, but if we each focus on our own role, and saving our own starfish, then the world quickly becomes a much better place. Focus on your cause, be present with the people around you, and live a life of service and you’ll pick up more starfish than you knew possible.