In a popular motivational fable by an unknown author there was once an old man who had a habit of walking along the beach every morning. One morning when he went to the beach he discovered there had been a strong storm the previous night that had washed thousands of starfish up onto the beach.
Then at a distance, he spotted a young man dancing along the beach. How odd the old man thought to himself; the beach is littered with soon to be rotting starfish and this young guy is dancing? So he ran up to him to see why he was dancing. As he got closer he saw that the young man wasn't dancing at all but instead was reaching down and picking up starfish and very gently throwing them back into the ocean.
The old man asked him, “Good morning! What are you doing?”
The young man replied, “Throwing starfish into the ocean!”
“Why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” the old man asked.
The young man replied, “The sun is up, and the tide is going out; and if I don’t throw them back in the ocean they’ll surely die!”
“Young man, don’t you realize that there are miles and miles of beach, and there must be thousands and thousands of starfish along it. You can’t possibly make a difference!”
The young man listened politely, then bent down and picked up another starfish and gently threw it back into the ocean and said, “It made a difference for that one!”
The old man paused a bit and contemplated the enormity of the task and then bent down, picked up a starfish and gently threw it back into the ocean....