Making A Difference

through coaching and training

“Once upon a time there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to walk at dawn. He had a habit of walking along the shore. One day, as he was walking along he looked down the beach and he saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself to think of someone who would dance to the day. So he began to walk faster to catch-up. As he got closer he saw that it was a young man and the young man wasn’t dancing, but instead he was reaching down to the shore, picking up something and very gently throwing it into the ocean. As he got closer he called out ‘Good Morning! What are you doing?’ The young man paused, looked up and replied , ‘Throwing starfish into the ocean’.

‘Perhaps I should have asked, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?’

‘The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in they’ll die.’

‘But young man, don’t you realise that there are miles and miles of beach and starfish all along it? You can’t possibly make a difference.’

The young man listened politely. Then bent down, picked up another starfish and threw it into the sea, past the breaking waves, and said,

‘It made a difference to that one.’


There are a number of versions of this poem. I bought a print by an artist based in St Ives who told me that the author is unknown and that the poem inspired him. He said that the print is a popular gift for teachers.

I hope, in some small way, that the work we do here makes a difference to the people who are coached or attend one of our training courses. The feedback we receive indicates this is indeed the case.

Which leads me onto one of my favourite coaching questions – why not ask this of yourself:

“What’s the smallest thing I can do that will make the biggest difference?”

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