The Greatest Mistake

It Started With a Quote” is a blog I follow. You should take a look. I found this recent one to be helpful because it shows how intuitive it is for us to accept one of life’s crucial mistakes as being reasonable.

Story adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley (1907 – 1977)

Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to go to the ocean to do his writing. He had a habit of walking on the beach before he began his work.

One day, as he was walking along the shore, he looked down the beach and saw a human figure moving like a dancer. He smiled to himself at the thought of someone who would dance to the day, so he walked faster to catch up.

As he got closer, he noticed that the figure was that of a young man, and that what he was doing was not dancing at all. The young man was reaching down to the shore, picking up small objects and throwing them into the ocean.

He came closer still and called out, “Good morning! May I ask what it is that you are doing?”

The young man paused, looked up and replied, “Throwing starfish into the ocean.”

“I must ask, then, why are you throwing starfish into the ocean?” asked the somewhat startled wise man.

To this the young man replied, “The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.”

Upon hearing this, the wise man commented, “But, young man, do you not realize that there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile? You can’t possibly make a difference!”

As if he hadn’t heard, the young man bent down, picked up yet another starfish and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he turned, smiled and said, “It made a difference to that one.”

The Lesson For Today:

“No one could make a greater mistake than he who did nothing because he could do only a little.” — Edmund Burke 1729-1797

“The greatest of all mistakes is to do nothing because you think you can only do a little.” — Zig Ziglar RIP 2012

Apparently, truth tends to last a long time.

Remind people that the beginning of a task is important and small increments add value.

Especially so if the solution will take many steps.

A little saving or a little insurance vastly improves on none. Get in the habit.

Don Shaughnessy is a retired partner in an international accounting firm and is presently with The Protectors Group, a large personal insurance, employee benefits and investment agency in Peterborough Ontario. don.s@protectorsgroup.com

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