Here's a common scenario. You're part of a community. You put something out there. Something meaningful. You get a few comments back, but really wonder if you're ever being heard or making any difference.
In a world that loves to be measured...through comments, re-tweets, page views, etc., it's pretty easy to size-up your impact through a couple of quick metrics. But here's the thing - your real impact can't be measured. It's too grand scale.
To realize the difference you are making, simply consider how you've been impacted by others. Think of the comments, blog posts, tweets, or simply smiles or gestures others have put there that have changed you - perhaps just a little bit, or perhaps your entire life. Well, you're doing the same for others...even if you don't realize it. It's a big world, and we can't respond in a meaningful way to each and every person who stirs up our little universe and makes things a little better (or a lot). But you're stirring...you're changing...you're helping, impacting, improving...
There are a lot of studies out there postulating where ideas come from. In fact, Seth Godin posted on this topic the other day. If you check out his list, you'll see #6 is: ideas occur when dissimilar universes collide. Given this, have you ever wondered how your thoughts from your universe vocalized have collided with someone else's and in turn have spurred ideas for them? Helped them solve a problem (little or big), or was just the thing that tipped their efforts and made all the difference?
Again - your real impact can't be measured.
I stuck this post-it note on the bathroom wall of Starbucks this morning. Sometimes we all need a little reminder.