Seeds & Catalysts

Note to future self…

This post was originally titled “Igniters” and the basic premise was that there are certain events that force step-function changes in our lives. A way I use to identify this moments is to notice when I think about other events in relation to the “igniting” event. For example, I think a lot about events that happened 5 years in the context of whether they occurred before or after I started college. In this case, starting college is the igniting event.

Nevertheless, today I was listening to an interview that I think helped me add some nuance to this view. In an interview with Shane Parrish, Daniel Gross discusses this idea of seed moments and catalyst moments. The idea behind this distinction is that there are certain moments (catalysts) that change your life path (before and after type) but there are other moments (seed) that predate the catalyst moment and they set the stage for catalyst moments to occur.

There’s probably a more eloquent and succinct way of phrasing that but I think you get it. Now if we assume this general model to be valid this makes me wonder a bunch of things:

  1. What’s the typical delay between seed moments and catalyst moments? Days, Weeks, Months, Years, Decade?!
  2. Can catalyst moments act as seed moments that unleash other catalyst moments? #mindblown
  3. If we assume that the answer to the last question is yes, do seed/catalyst moments behave like a feedback loop? Can you make that feedback loop tighter? If so, how?
  4. We’re assuming that seed → catalyst moments exist in a feedback loop continuum. What if we think about it as a funnel where more seed moments lead to more catalyst moments. How can we widen the funnel of significant seed moments?
  5. What is a valuable “seed” moment? Can you operationalize a definition?
  6. In hindsight it’s easier to spot seed/catalyst moments. Can you do spot these moments at the exact moment they occur? If so, could you do something to “amplify” or maximize the effect of this moment?
  7. Can you know what constitutes a valuable “seed” moment before it happens? If so, how can you position yourself to have more of those moments? Alternatively, what can you do to maximize your chances of having valuable “seed” moments?
  8. Is there a one-to-many relationship between “seed” moments and catalyst moments? What are the implications of this? Is more better?
  9. Is the relationship between seed and catalyst moments just a manifestation of some Pareto distribution where catalyst moments are the moments that end up mattering the most?

So many questions, so few answers. I will think about this and update you when I make some progress.

Now back to work…