Your one act can make a difference

One day a man was walking along the beach when he noticed a boy picking something up and gently throwing it into the ocean. Approaching the boy, he asked, “What are you doing?” The youth replied, “Throwing starfish back into the ocean. The surf is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them back, they’ll die.” “Son,” the man said, “don’t you realise there are miles and miles of beach and hundreds of starfish? You can’t make a difference!”

After listening politely, the boy bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it back into the surf. Then, smiling at the man, he said…” I made a difference for that one.”

Each one of us can make a difference by just one act.

That act need not be a big action point. It could be a small change. Yet, many of us hesitate to make changes in the way we work/perform or change the way we handle both, professional as well as personal relationships.

Why do we resist change?

#We love our comfort zone

Same routine. Same way of doing things. For many, this is their comfort zone, and it gives them a sense of security. They prefer to have this blanket around them rather than kick it away and plunge into the unknown. We see most of this behavior when it comes to resisting jobs/promotions that require relocations or opportunities that call for interactions with a new set of teammates.

#We see no value in the change

Often, people fail to see value in change, especially if it is incremental. The most relatable example here is when people do not feel motivated to exercise or modify their diet. They want immediate results and lack the patience to await the long-term outcome. Similarly at workplace, people are in a hurry to experience change not realising that incremental changes pave the way for the larger picture.

#We love to control the outcome

Change is embraced quickly if the outcome is known – in other words, if we can control the outcome. But when there is an element of surprise, it creates a sense of uneasiness and there is resistance to any new idea or suggestion. The unknown is scary!

One act is all that it takes

Like that little boy near the sea with his clarity of making a difference to even one starfish, we too can create changes by just one small act. The beauty is that many changes have a cascading effect that overall results in a new outcome/result that can be quite impactful.

#Live your dream

That dream that you cherished in your childhood – pull it out from the recesses of your mind and find the time and a way to fulfill it. You don’t need to devote full time to this but even a few moments spent on a regular basis doing something that you most enjoy doing will make you energised and feel rejuvenated.

#Be compassionate

At workplaces, compassion gets lost in the myriad of other emotions that one often experiences – anger, disillusionment, impatience, fatigue…Being compassionate, being kind and sparing time to appreciate others can make one feel good about themselves. That one act not only impacts the other person but also changes you: for the better.

#Take a pause

This is powerful. Pause when provoked. Pause when uncertain. Pause when indecisive. Pause when fearful. Pause when busy so that you can catch a breath and touch base with your own emotions and feelings. And you can move faster and quicker!

#Ask and not assume

Be curious. When you do not understand the new work that has come your way, pause and ask questions for clarification. By not asking and assuming, we let our own biases creep in. Open your mind to new thoughts and different ways of doing things.

What is that one act that you can do to bring about change?

The views and opinions published here belong to the author and do not necessarily reflect the views and opinions of the publisher.

Sarita Bahl
Sarita Bahl is an alumnus of Tata Institute of Social Sciences and the Swedish Institute of Management Program. An experienced and versatile leader, she comes with nearly four decades of professional experience. She has over the years successfully overseen the communications and public affairs function and led the corporate social responsibility strategy for Bayer South Asia, Pfizer, and Monsanto, among others. Sarita has held multiple roles across diverse industries, the public sector, trade associations, MNCs, and the not-for-profit sector. Her areas of interest include advocacy, stakeholder engagement, sustainability, and communications.

As an Associate Certified Coach (ACC) from the International Coaching Federation (ICF) and Senior Practitioner (Mentoring) from the European Council of Mentoring and Coaching (EMCC), Sarita specializes in career transition, inner engineering and life issues. Sarita enjoys writing and is passionate about animals, books, and movies.

1 Comment on "Your one act can make a difference"

  1. Thank you so much for sharing this great article that made me pause today to reevaluate my views on life and take a closer look at what I can do better to make a difference. I am so grateful and I have shared this great story throughout my network. Again, thank you. Mikael

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