My life is a series of Earth-shattering revelations.
It’s true. I move from epiphany to epiphany like a man being juggled by land mines. There’s lots of hard knocks, naturally, but progress is sudden, frequent, and delivered in large quantities.
While this way of operating is not without its struggles, it does come with a particular set of advantages. Progress is measurable to the point of being obvious. Life is also exciting enough for me to want to engage with it. And all my biggest moments are memorable enough to keep me going through dark times.
It only makes sense that I would learn to look for these life altering experiences and try to maximize them. Though it may be a wasted effort to try farming epiphanies.
This is my quest for catalysts.
What Catalysts have Gotten Me
One of the best examples of how my life has been transformed by catalytic moments comes from my college days.
I’ve had an interest in software since high school, but the college level courses were kicking my butt. Object-oriented design patters were a far cry from programming a Ti-83 calculator to do my calculus homework for me.
I even failed a couple classes, and the college recommended retaking those classes before pursuing any higher ones.
But I chose to ignore that advice and continue to higher-level courses. And it was a good thing I did, because those high level courses filled the holes that kept me from understanding the concepts taught in the lower courses.
Once I learned the principle of refactoring and the programming stack, it was like a key was turned in my brain, and suddenly I became an adept at computer programming.
A similar story can be told about my experience with social media. For 8 or 9 years, I struggled to gain a Twitter audience. I just couldn’t figure out what I was doing wrong.
But then, in January 2019, I decided I was going to find out the secret to being a Twitter personality. My transformation into a Twitter champion may have happened over the course of the year since, but that year was punctuated with individual triumphs that I can point to and say “That was the moment I understood how I was supposed to solve problem X.”
This has led to such fantastic success on the platform that I am now within striking range of 50,000 followers (more on that subject next week).
The same thing happened with my writing. I had to write 2 or 3 entire books before I could come up with a magic approach that makes my prose delicious. And once it clicked, it clicked all the way.
Why I Believe more Catalysts Await
It’s practically a given, for any author, that the first book publication will be a catalytic event for them.
It doesn’t necessarily launch them to superstardom, but it does change the nature of their work. No longer are they a hopeful or a hobbyist. Now they are a full professional and will have a much easier time earning a second, third, and fourth publication. This business does not come with guarantees, of course, but the statistics are strong here.
And there are plenty of areas where I have yet to experience catalysts. Not only in publication but in other aspects of my professional life, in relationships and social growth, and it must be said—in blogging, as well.
Of course, it’s fair to say that the catalyst I am questing for right now is the one that will lead to first publication. The traditional method of query-and-wait does not lend itself well to catalytic change, so I am beginning to explore other avenues (gaining a massive Twitter following is part of that).
Perhaps more Important: Teaching Catalysts to Students
Everybody has a story about that one teacher who was able to reach them. Stories of these teachers universally feature some kind of “Aha” moment where the teacher was able to explain a subject in such a way that the student understood it for the first time.
That’s because great teachers teach catalytically. They first identify and then deliver the missing piece that keeps the student from “getting it”.
That so many successful students attribute their education to these catalytic moments tells me that they are perhaps the most important tool for learning any subject. And any academic program would see tremendous benefit from exploiting them.
Conclusion: Catalysts are Desirable and Can Be Obtained
The high effectiveness of catalysts on the well being and personal power of individuals (particularly myself) has convinced me that discovering or achieving them to be a practice of immense value.
For some reason, my life has been granted an abundance of these catalytic events. Perhaps that reason was to give me enough insight into the power of catalysts that I could start evangelizing them to others.
If so, then I encourage you to take note and keep track of all the catalysts that have occurred in your life. And if you can find a way to bring them about, don’t be afraid to use it.
You might just be doing the whole world a favor.
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