“In trying to make a BIG difference, don’t ignore the SMALL DAILY differences we can make. Over time, they can add up to big differences that we often cannot foresee.”
Marian Wright Edelman

As I open my 2013 calendar for the first time, I take Marian Wright Edelman’s sentiment to heart. I’m energized by the open calendar filled with promise and opportunity to chase dreams and achieve goals that have been eluding me for too long. Yet, there are so many issues—global warming, gun violence, child abuse, racial profiling, poverty, hunger, social injustice, cancer, AIDS—that the task seems overwhelming.

To keep on track, I remind myself of the little girl walking along a beach that was riddled with thousands of starfish, washed ashore after a massive storm. One by one, the little girl tosses the stranded creatures back into the ocean. Older, “wiser” adults look on with bemusement.

Finally, a man approaches and asks, “Little girl, why are you doing this? Look at this beach! You can’t save all these starfish. You can’t begin to make a difference!”

The young do-gooder appears crushed at first, but, after a few moments, she bends down and throws another starfish deep into the ocean, then turns to the skeptical man to say, “Well, I made a difference to that one!”

If you think your small contribution to a cause close to your heart couldn’t or wouldn’t make a difference, think of the little girl. Or think of the words of Mother Teresa, “If you can’t feed a hundred people, then feed just one.”

It’s not the size of a contribution that matters most; it’s the effort. We do have the power to feed one person and to change one life, one mind, or one circumstance today, right now.

Perhaps your small contribution will inspire another and another.

Then their acts will do the same. Do the math. Think of the exponential potential. Then, think of all the small differences coming together to make huge differences.

In addition to the causes I previously named, I’d like to introduce you to another area where even a relatively small contribution will have a big impact. Through the Keep On Pushing Foundation (which I started in 2006), I support a breakfast program at my old elementary school, Drews Avenue Primary School in Kingston, Jamaica, as well as a school supplies program in ten schools in the neighborhood. The neighborhood is impoverished and violent. Our 2013 challenge is to erect a security wall around the Drews Avenue Primary School to provide enough physical security for the children to ensure they enjoy emotional well-being during their school day…everyday. If you are looking for a way to make a much-appreciated difference, perhaps you might consider making this campaign your starfish. To find out more about this project that lives so close to my heart, please click here.

Keep On Pushing!

As an original member of the 1988 Jamaican bobsled team and captain of the 1992 and 1998 teams, three-time Olympian Devon Harris achieved his grand dream. His current dream is to inspire others to achieve theirs. Tapping the same energy, determination, and skills that enabled him to bobsled with the best in the world, Devon, as a motivational speaker, is now sparking audiences of all ages to dream big and take their “game” to the next level. For more inspiration from Devon, visit his website or check him out on Facebook and Twitter.

*Photo by Danny McL.