The Seven Major Catalysts that Inspire Progress


The Progress Principle

“Movement isn’t progress.” — Thomas Leonard

You can dramatically shape a positive inner work life if you know what the key catalysts are.

Catalysts are powerful ways to influence a positive inner work life.  

When people have a positive inner work life, they are more creative and productive.

People are also more committed to their work and more likely to work well with their colleagues.

7 Major Catalysts for a Positive Inner Work Life

In the book, The Progress Principle: Using Small Wins to Ignite Joy, Engagement, and Creativity at Work, Teresa Amabile and Steven Kramer share the most crucial catalysts that shape your inner work life.

Their findings are based on studying more than 12,000 "even of the day" narratives by employees across multiple organizations.

Here are the seven major catalysts that affect both the positive perception of progress and the actual positive impact on progress:

  1. Setting clear goals.
  2. Allowing autonomy.
  3. Providing resources.
  4. Giving enough time — but not too much.
  5. Help with the work.
  6. Learning from problems and successes.
  7. Allowing ideas to flow.

The opposite of each of these is an inhibitor of progress.  Inhibitors hinder progress or cause setbacks and have a negative impact on inner work life.

Motivate People with Progress

Progress is actually one of the best ways to motivate people, and catalysts influence your progress loop in an interesting way. 

First, a catalyst can positively influence your inner work life, before it actually impacts the work itself.  For example, if you knew you were getting a faster computer, you would think positively of your employer before you actually got the computer. 

Next, when the catalyst does actually positively impact your work, it then boosts your inner work life again.

Progress is a powerful tool for positive change.

Photo by Anil Bhatt.


  1. Looks like perfect match for the hierarchy of needs of Maslow. Timeless models work universally.
    From basic needs to self realization. WHOA!

  2. Informative post!
    Understanding how to motivate yourself and others is an important skill professionally and in other aspects of life.

    As you alluded to, catalysts are what spark progress.

  3. Having these catalysts seem like it would positively build morale with the employees. Not sure about a faster computer, but definitely allowing to express self creatively would be a booster for me 😉

  4. Hi J.D
    I could work with these. Setting some clear goals added to a flow of ideas will get the juices flowing. Thank you.
    be good to yourself

  5. Hi JD,

    Nice post! Exactly, when we change our internal world, our outer world will change. For example, once we begin to give our best at work and really become motivated, good things start coming our way and we become better humans. As the law says, “As within so with out.” It is very important that each one of us finds what motivates him/her in life. This way, we can grow and progress in life. Thanks for sharing

  6. @ Alik — I like the Maslow connection. The symphony of strategies is a force multplier.

    @ Joe — I’m a fan of finding the catalysts and mitigating the drains.

    @ Kenya — I’ve seen unleashing the creative flow really bring people to life.

    @ David — Having the right goals is like a great game of leap frog. It’s a way to challenge and grow by leaps and bounds.

    @ Dia — It’s true how much the world mirrors us back. I think growing and growth remind us we’re alive in a powerful way.

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