A catalyst is a substance that enables a chemical reaction to proceed at a faster rate than would otherwise be possible. Catalysts are usually not consumed in the chemical reaction. Catalysts work by providing alternative pathways for the reaction to proceed faster. The catalyst reacts with the initial compound to form an intermediary. The intermediary is further acted upon to form the final compound and in the process regenerates the original catalyst.
A catalyst may also refer to an agent that provokes or speeds significant change or action. Catalysts can be found everywhere in nature and real life. Oxygen is a naturally occurring catalyst and aids many natural processes. Catalysts are used in petrol production, food processing and drug manufacture. In real life, catalysts come in many forms. In politics we find catalysts as outspoken leaders who lead and force change upon society. Examples include Nelson Mandela, Mahatma Gandhi, Martin Luther King, etc.
A catalyst can also be a situation which provokes change. A sudden job loss can spur someone to start a business. Extreme injustice can spark a revolution. Catalysts can be people in our lives who challenge and encourage us to aspire to bigger and better things. Knowledge and understanding is a powerful catalyst. A poor man who gains knowledge and understanding can never stay poor. Spiritual catalysts drive people to act in congruence with their beliefs and ideologies.
There are many catalysts which drive us. What matters is that we become catalysts for positive change.