23 June 2005


catalyst noun 1: Something that causes an important event to happen; 2: An agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action. synonyms: accelerant, accelerator, activator, causal agent, cause.

By definition, catalysts are present in smaller quantities or numbers than the elements they catalyze, i.e., it can take as little as one unit or a small amount to make a big reaction happen. In chemistry, catalysts are often unchanged by the reaction they cause. Outside of chemistry, catalysts are always changed by the reaction.

Are you a catalyst? The Jenius perceives that most of you will either ignore the question or blithely answer "Yes." Please avoid doing either. Think about the question, review the definitions presented and then ponder: Are you a catalyst?

Here's a checklist of key elements that determine if you or anyone else is a catalyst:

1) Do you focus on results instead of process? Catalysts focus on results--what will be achieved--rather than on process (who will do it and how.)

2) Do you need to have visible power or recognition in order to give your best effort? Catalysts can and often operate in the background or without much notice. The focus is on results, not process.

3) Do you insist on security or minimal risk in order to make an effort? Catalysts are not risk-seekers, but often avoid "safe" conditions to achieve a goal. If it is "safe," then a catalyst really isn't needed for spectacular results.

4) Do you need to work with big groups? Catalysts seek effective groups, not necessarily big ones. In fact, large groups are notoriously ineffective and resistant to catalytic effects.

5) Do you insist on working alone? Catalysts, by themselves, are simply another element in the universe. They must interact in order to achieve results.

6) Do you insist on getting what you want in order to participate? Catalysts do not force reactions, they make them easier.

7) Do you have the "superman" or "superwoman" tendency of trying to do everything? Catalysts create big reactions with little relative effort. Trying to do everything is like trying to replace the Universe: you are faced with doing an infinite number of things in order to succeed. If you see this tendency in yourself, understand this: you are not capable of doing an infinite number of things.

8) Do you seek out new situations or repeat ones you already know? Constantly seeking new situations is not the vision of a catalyst: it's the vision of the wanderer. Catalysts find situations they can positively affect and then seek out similar situations they can apply themselves to. Again, the emphasis is on results.

9) Are you a "starter" or "closer"? "Starters" are people with an ability to get projects off the ground. "Closers" are people with an ability to complete projects. There are easily more "starters" than "closers." (Just look around you.) Effective catalysts are both starters and closers.

10) Are you actively part of a network or are you isolated? An effective catalyst must avoid isolation (thus precluding the insistence on working alone.) Catalysts without a network of contacts or a support system are inert elements. Often the isolation is unintended, or product of being in the wrong environment. In order to be a catalyst, a person must seek out and find the right mix of elements for his or her environment, then initiate action.

Now, are you a catalyst?

The Jenius Has Spoken.

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