July 14, 2017

It's Not Rocket Science

It’s not rocket science! This is a bold declaration of hope for those of us who scraped by chemistry class with only a vague recollection of the details. I don’t remember a lot (okay very little) from my chemistry classes. But I do remember the power, importance and potential of a catalyst.

In chemistry, a catalyst is a substance that speeds up a chemical reaction, but is not consumed by the reaction. It creates, speeds up and ignites a specific change but is not consumed by the reaction. In life, the catalyst is a purpose or mission that truly motivates.

Dr. Charles Garfield called it “the click.” Dr. Michael Gervais said it was figuring out who you are. Mahatma Gandhi called it becoming the change you want to see. There are no shortcuts to discovering meaningful and purposeful impact. But the good news is it is not rocket science.

But she's going to be 80!

We simply need to employ and engage a catalyst. Zig Ziglar once said, “You don’t pay the price, you enjoy the benefits.” Shifting focus from paying a price to producing and enjoying benefits is a catalytic seed. My passion for the pursuit of impact grows every day because I see people (some whom I love dearly) stuck in neutral.

My mom will turn 80 next April. Believe me she is not stuck in neutral! On her birthday, I told her she should complete Catalyst, mission, marathon, Alzheimer's diseasea marathon for her 80th birthday. She suggested I was crazy. She told my brother and sister who both asked me if I was trying to kill mom. Now that is crazy!

What I was helping my mom do is ignite a catalyst. My mom had nine brothers—four are still living. Seven of them and her father suffer(ed) from Alzheimer’s and dementia. My mom can certainly finish a marathon. She currently walks 10,000 to 20,000 steps a day (5 to 10 miles). The catalyst is not completing a marathon but raising money for Alzheimer’s research.

Start where you are.

Think for a moment about where you currently find yourself. Now ask yourself, “If one year from now I find myself in the same personal, spiritual and professional condition I am today will I be excited and encouraged about my position, direction and trajectory?”

When I was asked this question some time ago, by someone I truly respect, I was quick to answer, “Yes.” In fact, “Goodness, yes!” His immediate reply was, “You are not being honest with yourself. It doesn’t matter to me, but it should matter to you.” He was right!

Where do you want to be a year from now? If you say, “I am fully spent and there is no room for greater improvement or contribution,” you are not being honest with yourself. None of us like to be pushed. But the truth is we need someone to ask us the tough questions and to push us beyond our own cowardice.

It’s not rocket science.

The change you want to see is your catalytic seed. The benefits of pursuing that change are the igniting source—2nd curve thinking. But even when you identify great benefits of making changes it may not be enough to move you.

The truth is we seek comfort and won’t move unless we are pushed. But for the most part there is no fear of being pushed because we have insulated ourselves from people capable of pushing us to improve our position, change directions and elevate our trajectory.

It is indeed not rocket science. We will remain at rest until we identify and employ a catalyst—identifying the thing that makes your heart thump. 

Choose your catalyst?

What change do you most want to see in your life? When word spread that I was encouraging my mom to complete a marathon to raise money for Alzheimer’s research comments fell into two camps.

The first was people suggesting that if I thought it was such a good idea, I should do it. What was I thinking? I shouldn’t be encouraging a youthful 80 year old, in great condition, who walks six miles a day to complete a marathon to raise money for a cause that has touched so many important people in her life.

The second was people committing donations to the cause. They loved the story! They wanted to be a source of encouragement and ignite the catalyst.

A year from now which story has life-changing, impact-raising potential?

A year from now, what change do you want to see?

Paralyzing comfort is pierced with a teachable spirit. When we engender a teachable spirit and engage a knowledgeable coach, we are on our way to discovering our personal catalyst that ignites positive change!

2 comments on “It's Not Rocket Science”

  1. Every time we speak you put a little bit of catalyst into me. Before I got to the second paragraph I was thinking that you are trying to kill me" like your sister and brother).However most likely will change my seat and stop talking to you after church.
    Love You Jim (keep it up I hope ,God lets me be around When you're in your 70's)

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