Washington University in St. Louis

Instructor Insights - Lessons in Leadership: Part 2

Instructor Insights - Lessons in Leadership: Part 2
Instructor Insights - JD Frailey
Instructor Insights: Every Person Counts

Welcome to Part 2 of our "Instructor Insights - Lessons in Leadership" series, where we continue to explore profound perspectives from our expert instructors. In this installment, we draw inspiration from a powerful narrative that underlines the impact of leadership. Leadership goes beyond the role; it's about making a difference, and understanding that every person counts.

Every Starfish Counts:

Leaders make a difference, and every person matters in some way. This fundamental truth is beautifully exemplified by JD in a heartwarming story. Picture a woman walking along a beach, where the aftermath of a storm has left a long stretch littered with starfish. Many of these starfish are left behind by the receding surf, and while some are still alive, they won't survive for long away from the water.

The woman takes it upon herself to make a difference. She begins picking up the stranded starfish and, if alive, gently tosses them back into the ocean. As she continues her compassionate work, a man walking in her direction stops to observe her efforts. He remarks, "It's nice what you're doing, but look around and look ahead, there are hundreds and hundreds of starfish spread over a mile or more. I mean, what difference can it make?"

In response, the woman pauses for a moment, then reaches down, picks up a single starfish, and throws it into the shimmering water. She looks at the man and says with a smile, 

"It made a difference to that one."


This story beautifully illustrates the essence of leadership. Leadership is not solely about making grand gestures or sweeping changes; it's about recognizing the value of every individual and the positive impact that can be made, even in seemingly insurmountable situations.

Just as the woman couldn't save every starfish on the beach, leaders cannot address every challenge or issue single-handedly. However, what distinguishes great leaders is their commitment to making a difference in the lives of those they lead. They understand that by helping even one person, they create a ripple effect that can lead to positive change and inspire others.

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Closing Thoughts:

Part 2 of our "Instructor Insights - Lessons in Leadership" series emphasizes that true leadership is not confined to positions of power; it is about recognizing the worth and potential in each individual and taking action to make a difference. Every person counts, and it is through such understanding that we can truly thrive as leaders and as a collective whole.

Stay tuned for the next installment in our "Instructor Insights" series, where we'll continue to offer you engaging, accurate, and informative perspectives on leadership and professional growth. In the journey of leadership, remember that every person counts, and your actions, no matter how small, can make a significant difference.

As you continue your leadership journey, explore JD Frailey's unique insights and courses firsthand at the Technical Leadership Center. Unlock your leadership potential and take the next step toward becoming a more confident and effective leader.

Author's Note:

This article represents a hybrid blog, a collaborative creation combining the creative content and personal experiences from our staff  with the capabilities of AI language technology. The content aims to blend human-driven storytelling and AI-assisted precision, showcasing the potential synergy between human creativity and artificial intelligence in the realm of content creation.

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