“Once upon a time, there was a wise man who used to take daily walks on the beach. One day, he came across a young man picking up small objects and throwing them into the ocean. He came closer 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. The sun is up and the tide is going out. If I don’t throw them in, they’ll die.” Puzzled, the wise man said, “But, young man, there are miles and miles of beach and there are starfish all along every mile. You can’t possibly make a difference!” The young man bent down, picked up another starfish, and threw it into the ocean. As it met the water, he said, “It made a difference for that one.” (Adapted from The Star Thrower by Loren Eiseley (1907-1977))
This story is usually used to show the difference that just one person can make. And it does make that point well.
But we can draw another lesson from it:
“The young man is able to stay fully committed to his work because he’s able to see with his own eyes the impact he’s making.”
We all want to see PROOF that our work makes a difference, however small. Funders and donors want to see it, volunteers want to see it, and WE — the changemakers – want to see it. We want to know that all the time and effort we put into our project pays off. That’s why it’s important that we measure outcome.
Being an Ashoka’s Youth Venturer I have been engaged with impoverished communities on projects related to water and after going through the lesson I realised that this really helps in staying committed to what you do.
As Bill Drayton, Founder of Ashoka says “How is the world different because you are here?” Measuring the outcome of my ventures always gives me strength to answer, that Yes, the world is “a little” different because I am here.
The lesson is extracted from “Make it Count” of The Creative Activist Toolkit which is a series of PDF booklets designed by Charles Tsai, founder and Executive Director of Global Youth Fund(www.globalyouth.ning.com) to help today’s youth impact the world through creativity and social entrepreneurship.
The writer is a correspondent of Youth Ki Awaaz