Although I'm clearly more optimist than pessimist, it's still easy for me to get discouraged thinking about how much of a difference I make in the world. Other optimists - sound at all familiar?
Recently heard an anecdote that has helped me frame my dilemma in a more positive light. A couple I know have patronized the same skating rink for several years. After some lobbying, the proprietors of the rink agreed to play music provided by the husband, a serious jazz aficionado. One of the younger regulars who also skates there told the husband how much he has grown to appreciate Miles Davis, Ella Fitzgerald and Louis Armstrong. "You never know who is paying attention", this friend first commented to his wife and then later to me when sharing his story. So simple, so true.
There's a corollary to my friend's pertinent takeaway. It can be relatively easy to subtly yet profoundly influence others. Now if the optimist and the teacher in me would just remember this framing the next time I begin getting discouraged about making a difference. If you have a story illustrating my friend's takeaway or my corollary, why not share it? Your stories are yet another means to help fortify that framing.