The Starfish Story

Recently, in my travels around the web, I came across The Starfish Story and it has resonated with me ever since…. as an analogy for my coaching beliefs. The story went something like this…

One day a young man was walking along the seashore and saw ahead a beach where thousands of starfish had been washed ashore. As he walked further along the shoreline, he saw an older woman. She was walking slowly and often bending down to pick up starfish, one after another, and then gently throwing them back into the ocean.

The young man asked, “why are you throwing those starfish back into the ocean?”

“Well,” the older woman said “the sun is getting hotter and the tide is going out, if I don’t pick them up and throw them further into the ocean they will die”

“But there are thousands and thousands of starfish all along this beach. Don’t you realise that you can’t save them all? You can’t save very many of them. In fact, even if you throw starfish back all day, you will have only saved a few. Your effort will not make any difference at all!”

The older woman listened to the young man, smiled, bent down and picked up a starfish, throwing it back into the the ocean.

“It made a difference to that one”


In my coaching, I want to make a difference.

I have read many leadership books, articles and blog posts. I find myself particularly attracted to those increasingly prolific posts that announce things like, the 7 strategies for every successful leader……sometimes I am inspired, sometimes I am not. What I have come to learn is that coaching and leadership are about your personal values and beliefs. Effective coaching starts with passion, being genuinely interested in bringing about a particular change and aiming high. Then it’s about sharing that vision and passion and making the journey meaningful and personal for everyone you travel with along on the way.

My 3 year goal is simply written,


it is not simple to bring to life!

But I keep walking along the shoreline and I try not to get dissuaded by the passers by who tell me, in many different ways, that my efforts will not make a difference…….because I know, I can and I have, made a difference to that one!