After reading Ben's commencement address to Princeton, Rachel pointed me in the direction of Dick Costolo's address to his alma mater, U Mich. He's the dude who keeps things going behind Twitter, and he tells us about how we can never plot/plan the future, but if we do what we love, we become resilient, and we create a habit of creating amazing new ways of moving forward.
There's one example he raises (around the 6 minute mark) about improv and life (despite getting a com sci degree from U Mich, his first gig was in Chicago doing Improv and Comedy), and it ties in beautifully to the work they do at Twitter, and how they could never have expected or planned for its impact.
You can't plan a script. The beauty of improv is you're experiencing it in the moment. If you try and plan what the next line is supposed to be, you're just going to be disappointed when the other people on stage with you don't do or say what you want them to, and you'll stand there frozen. BE IN THIS MOMENT.
At Twitter, they had no way of knowing that President Obama would use the platform to announce his 2012 election win, they would never have planned for the residents in Fukushima to use it as a communication platform when the phone lines went down, they would never have dreamed of how it would propel people within the Arab nations into the Arab Spring.
"Not only can you not plan the impact you're going to have, you often won't recognize it when you're having it…The impact is what others frame for you and the world after it happens. The present is only what you're experiencing and focused on right now…You cannot draw that path looking forward. You cannot draw any of your paths looking forward. You have to figure out what you love to do, what you have conviction about, and go do that."
What they did was what they loved. Pouring themselves fully into the moment (into creating a great product), and letting others determine the impact it would have on the world at large. He took a risk, he made bigger choices, he started in Improv and then he made Twitter.
What I implore you to do is believe that if you make courageous choices and bet on yourself and put yourself out there that you will have an impact as a result of what you do and you don't need to know now what that will be, or how that will happen, because nobody ever does.
It's worth remembering that our lives are essentially an empty stage, it's up to us to create the set we want to see in it, to be and do what we want.