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?

Comfort Kills

3 12 2010

As this year winds to a close and we spend time with our loved ones and celebrate the season, I can’t help but think about the year ahead.  Call it a New Year’s resolution, call it a goal, call it a challenge – we are just a few short weeks away from the renewal of our annual cycle.  How will we approach it?  What will we change?  What will we accomplish in the coming year?

Each year represents a new challenge, and for me the challenge next year is huge.  So I do what I always do – I go in search of direction, inspiration, and resources.  This time the inspiration found me.  This week I have stumbled across 3 or 4 different articles about Richard Branson, and the timing could not be better.

Richard Branson founded Virgin Records and became a multi-millionaire.  A lot of people would have been satisfied with the success of their early endeavors.  Not Branson.  Did he get complacent, drink too many margaritas, and absolve himself of productivity?  Absolutely not.  Instead of basking in the warm glow of success, he throws himself on the fire.  He risks it all and starts an airline.  It too is successful.  Does he sit back and smile?  Maybe a little – and then he starts a mobile technology company.  Why stop there?  How about an innovative digital publication?  Still not satisfied??  Virgin Galactic – oh yeah – flights into space.

So why keep going?  What’s the point?  When will this insatiable Branson finally rest?!?!

There is a phrase that says something to the effect that “satisfaction is the death of desire.”  My paraphrased version is “comfort kills.”  The best musicians, artists, and poets are usually somehow tortured.  The best fighters are often the most hungry.  In a world where everyone works for a bigger piece of the pie, you must improve to compete.  You cannot become complacent, lazy, comfortable.  You must find a way to stay hungry.

I’m no Richard Branson – I do not own an airline, so I have a long way to go.  Therefore I am throwing myself on the fire.  The coming year will challenge me greatly.  I will be doubted and questioned – by others and by myself.  Announcements will be made, and I will be criticized as much as I will be applauded.  Discomfort will find me – and I will embrace it.  I will not look back and I will not apologize.  Great things come from chaos.  May we all find a way to make ourselves uncomfortable in the coming year.

%d bloggers like this: