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38 MARCH 2002
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teaching illustration

One at a time

Jack Canfield and Mark V. Hansen

A friend of ours was walking down a deserted Mexican beach at sunset. As he walked along, he began to see another man in the distance. As he drew nearer he noticed that the local man kept leaning down, picking something up and throwing it out into the water. Time and again he kept hurling things out into the ocean.

As our friend approached, he noticed that the man was picking up starfish that had been washed up on the beach and, one at a time, he was throwing them back into the water.

Our friend was puzzled. He approached the man and said: ďGood evening, friend. I was wondering what you are doing."

"Iím throwing these starfish back into the ocean. You see, itís low tide right now and all of these starfish have been washed up onto the shore. If I donít throw them back into the sea, theyíll die up here from lack of oxygen."

I understand," my friend replied, ďbut there must be thousands of starfish on this beach. You canít possibly get to all of them. There are simply too many. And donít you realise this is probably happening on hundreds of beaches all up and down this coast? Canít you see that you canít possibly make a difference?"

The local man smiled, bent down and picked up yet another starfish, and as he threw it back into the sea, he replied: ďMade a difference to that one!"

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