It Matters to That One

by Jeremy Graves

You’ve heard the story I’m sure about the child walking on the beach and a passerby who noticed the boy stopping to occasionally throw something into the ocean.

It was low tide and as the boy was enjoying his first trip to the beach, he saw what seemed to be hundreds of starfish stranded on the beach. He knew with the sun beginning to heat the day, these little starfish would soon dry up and die.

So, he took it upon himself to pick the starfish up and throw them as far into the ocean as he could. The passerby came to this child and said that he shouldn’t waste his time. This is something that happens often and is just part of the circle of life. He then told the boy that even if he spent all day, his efforts wouldn’t really matter. The boy picked up another starfish, looked at the passerby and as he threw that starfish back into the waves, he said “It matters to that one.”

Occasionally, I find myself wondering if I’m making a difference in the world. Is my work impactful and will it have made a difference? Wouldn’t we all like to think that our efforts mattered on some grand scale when our time here is done? That’s when I think of this story and pull myself back to reality and begin to wonder if that’s the plan for me.

It’s not to say that my purpose or yours isn’t to find a cure for cancer or to be the first person to walk on Mars. Maybe it is. But what if you knew that wasn’t going to happen and wasn’t your destiny? I’d like to think that knowledge wouldn’t stop me from trying to do the little things right. The seemingly insignificant things that perhaps on a large scale mean so little, but matter so much to that one person.

Maybe the older lady I helped on the plane this morning to secure her luggage in the overhead bin restored a bit of her faith in the younger generation. Maybe I reminded her of her grandson that she doesn’t get to see often enough. Perhaps another person saw me do that and it encouraged them to do it for someone else – the “pay it forward” philosophy. I’m glad I didn’t miss that opportunity, but I know I miss more than I should.

As you go through your day, you have the chance to serve people over and over. Look for the opportunities to make an impact on each of them. Extraordinary care is what customers are longing for and remember that’s different than serving them with ordinary care. These are the moments that will set you apart as an employee but even more importantly, as a person.

Maybe my life, and possibly yours, is intended to be filled with a thousand small and individual, but still meaningful moments, as opposed to one or two large contributions to society.

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