Letting Go to Grab Something Bigger

I often think about a story told by Rob Bell. It’s one where his son is playing on the beach when a giant, beautiful starfish comes floating by. His son looks up and wants to grab it, like any kid would. Rob yells over, “Go get it buddy” but his son yells back “I can’t.” Rob says, “Sure you can, just run into the water and grab it.” His son replies with emotion and frustration, “But Dad… I CAN’T.” Rob says, “Why not?” and his son says, “My hands are full of tiny shells.”

You see, Rob’s son had been picking up all these little shells to the point where his hands were full… so full that when the big starfish (big opportunity) came passing by he couldn’t reach out and grab it because he was too afraid to let go of the shells already in his hands.

The giant starfish was right there… right in his reach but he just couldn’t let go in order to get it.

Life and business are the same. There are times when you need to make sure that you’re not holding so tight to the small shells that you’re unwilling to release and make room for what is bigger. Your hands can only hold so much. It’s hard to let go, after all you’ve spent a lot of time collecting but… if you don’t, you’ll most likely regret it.


Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

  • It definitely takes a shift in perspective to be able to see the bigger benefits of grabbing the starfish- especially when letting go of all of the small shells probably makes us very uncomfortable. There's a powerful message here in such a simple story- thanks for sharing!

  • Great post, Dan. That's what pockets are for. If we can do our smaller activities in pockets of time throughout the day and leave at least one or two big blocks for larger goals or opportunities, we can have the shells and the starfish too.

    • Great additional thought there John. Never thought about the pockets. 🙂