There is a story that I came to learn after I moved to America. It struck me hard, and it has stayed with me for many years since. Perhaps many of you have heard of it. Loren Eiseley, an American philosopher, wrote an original essay called “The Star Thrower” in 1969. Here is the adapted version, and it goes like this:
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 realize 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.”
When I read this week’s Fundamental Behavior, I think of this boy. Taking ownership comes from an intrinsic motivation – one does something without any expectations to gain rewards. You do, simply because you believe in it.
When I struggle or get overwhelmed, facing seemingly miles and miles of “starfish,” I try to remind myself to shift my focus on saving “that one.” No matter how little, if we can all get in a habit of asking ourselves, “What can I do to make a positive difference?” and do so without the boundaries of our titles, or seeking any form of credit, I wonder what difference we can make collectively for YKK and our customers.
While you and I are brought together through YKK, I also realize that this Fundamental Behavior goes far beyond our work environment. What can we do for our loved ones today? How can we help our community? How would our world be if we all showed up “at the beach” and each decided to make a small difference?
Senior Manager, Sales & Marketing
YKK (U.S.A.) Inc.