How To Be The Catalyst Your World Needs

17 02 2014

bruce lee kick

“To hell with circumstances, I create opportunities.” – Bruce Lee

There are two kinds of people in this world – those that wait for things to happen, and those that make things happen. You know those people, the ones that make the party more fun, make the company more successful, make the team win – those people. Are you one of them? If so, you need to realize the responsibility in your hands. Without you, nothing happens. The world is a boring place without a catalyst.

Or perhaps you wish you were a mover and a shaker who built a reputation for taking action and achieving great results. Well, you can be. Here is a collection of advice to help you become the catalyst in your world, capable of creating your own opportunities:

  • “You don’t learn to walk by following rules. You learn by doing, and by falling over.” Richard Branson. Reading books and blogs, attending classes and seminars, listening to speakers and watching videos are all good ways to educate yourself – but to be a catalyst and create change, you have to start walking.
  • “It’s easier to ask forgiveness than it is to get permission.” Grace Hopper, US Navy. You may have heard this one before, and it’s one of my favorite pieces of advice. Catalysts don’t wait for approval. They do what they think is right regardless of their title, position, or status. Will you have some explaining to do if you’re wrong? Perhaps. But what if you’re right?
  • “So what do we do? Anything. Something. So long as we just don’t sit there. If we screw it up, start over. Try something else.” – Lee Iacocca. To be a catalyst in your world, just assume no one else will do anything. Lead the charge, encourage the people around you, and demand action.
  • “We don’t have a suggestion box.” – Chad Forrester, charity founder. I love this quote. It’s great to contribute with words, it’s more valuable to contribute with action. By allowing your colleagues to act on their ideas and passions, you get their best efforts. True catalysts empower other people to take action and help the cause.
  • “If I had asked people what they wanted, they would have said faster horses.”  Henry Ford. If you constantly respond to circumstances and requests, then you are limited in your ability to create. Look back at history – creating something truly new and impactful is the mark of achievement for the names we will remember most.
  • “I did not mind the public criticism. That sort of thing has not changed any program I thought was good.” Branch Rickey. When Mr. Rickey brought Jackie Robinson to Major League Baseball, he faced tremendous scrutiny and criticism. But he demolished the color barrier because it was the right thing to do, not because it was popular. Catalysts act with conviction, regardless of the potential public backlash.

Jackie Robinson and Branch Rickey

  • “To hell with circumstances, I create opportunities.” – Bruce Lee. Sure, there’s this problem.., that person.., their business.., this city.., etc. It is easy to justify your lack of action based on your situation. Catalysts view situational difficulties as challenges to overcome – not as excuses to remain stagnant.
  • “Move fast and break things.” – Mark Zuckerberg. True catalysts are some of the least patient people you will ever meet. If the speed of their action causes things to get smashed in the process, so what? Catalysts don’t intend to maintain the status quo, they intend to demolish it. They get started, get going, and take action!

So what are you waiting for?



6 responses

17 02 2014
Jennifer W

I love it! But, let’s not disrespect the others – the “boring ones at the party” – they keep things grounded and steady while we’re up exploring the stars. Yin and yang my friend.

17 02 2014

I must disagree! The human race doesn’t need to be grounded at this point in history. We need growth and change in a positive direction, and to do so we need people to free themselves from the status quo mentality. So long as the majority is afraid to dance like fool at a party or make innovative changes in a company because of what their peers might think, progress will be impeded! We need to live in a world where the movers and shakers outnumber the idly content. When this happens then humanity as a whole will begin to gain momentum in a healthy and positive direction, I think.

No disrespect intended at the others, but no excuse is good enough to not be the best version of yourself.


18 02 2014
Jennifer W

Maybe your best version of yourself is to be the support team? Maybe the best version of yourself is to understand your strength is taking care of the day to day needs because you understand your partner’s (business partner, marital partner, etc) best strength is to be innovative? I am a dreamer, but I need someone to be at the helm, steadying while I dream. I think the best partnership is to hire/marry your opposite, where you understand your weakness and hire/marry the person that will round that out. I am a small business owner. If I didn’t have that grounded person to make sure the bills got paid, I could have NEVER been able to start my business and kick ass. I am always that fool at the party, but I still need someone to drive me home at the end of the night. We need a spectrum. I am so grateful for my support team, they allowed me to get where I am.

18 02 2014
Brad White

Hey guys, thanks for the comments. To clarify, the purpose of this article is not to demand that anyone be a catalyst. The point is that there are people who would like to have more control in their life and create their own opportunities. And that is entirely possible – if you have the proper mindset and approach. I wrote this piece because far too often I see people that underestimate and under-utilize their own power. If just ONE person reads this and thinks, “Wait a minute, I can totally create my own opportunity!” and then they set a course to do that, then I will be thoroughly satisfied with my contribution.

18 02 2014
Jennifer W


21 02 2014
Charity Gibson

You already know my answer to your “So what are you waiting for?” question. Not a dang thing…. except for everyone else to hurry up and get to this party already!

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