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Anatomy of a breakthrough : how to get unstuck when it matters most
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Publishers Weekly Review
NYU marketing professor Alter (Irresistible) delivers a useful guide to getting past barriers to progress. Periods of creative, professional, or personal stagnation are "a feature rather than a bug on the path to success," he argues, and they can be surmounted by utilizing the right "emotional, mental, and behavioral tools." First, the author normalizes "stuckness," which can feel isolating, because people "tend to wrestle their demons" behind closed doors. Next, he suggests ways to handle its emotional consequences, such as by learning to live with the prospect of failure and striving for progress instead of perfection. Other strategies involve imposing parameters on projects ("once your field of options shrinks, you're free to be creative with the options that remain"), or working with new creative partners who could have fresh perspectives. Alter draws on abundant examples of artists, entrepreneurs, and athletes who forged their own breakthroughs, among them actor Brie Larson, who endured "decades of frustration" before eventually winning an Academy Award, and Claude Monet, who couldn't paint for two years following his wife's death, but later produced some of his most celebrated works. Though occasionally repetitive, Alter's advice is solid and confidence boosting, with a heartening message that's grounded in clear scientific research. This is persuasive and practical. (May)
Kirkus Review
A useful look at how to get "unstuck." At some point in their lives, everyone will experience the sense that they are stuck in a rut, unable to move forward, even though a part of them says they should. Alter, a professor of marketing at NYU's Stern School of Business and author of Drunk Tank Pink and Irresistible, is interested in this "stuckness," and his latest book collects a large number of case studies, with a focus on how various well-known figures have overcome the mental patterns and negative emotions that create inertia. For people who want to move forward but do not know how, a thorough audit of goals is a good start. Be willing to experiment and accept that finding the right path might involve repeated failures. In other cases, people might have an aspiration but be unsure about next steps. Breaking the task into manageable pieces and deciding what should constitute success can make it less daunting. Careful research about the goal will take away the anxiety connected with the unknown. Alter believes that habit is one of the key impediments to making changes. The antidote to this is conscious action, even if means starting with small and apparently unconnected elements. The aim is to change a habit of inertia into a model of activity. Another way to do this is to deliberately associate with people unlike yourself, which will provoke new ideas. The author delivers consistently intriguing ideas, but he loses the thread of his argument, and a few of the cases he cites are not relevant to his point. Nevertheless, the book could serve as a valuable launching pad for anyone looking to take a new step in their life. In a wide-ranging package, Alter offers practical advice on how to break free of inertia and blaze a new path. Copyright (c) Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.
A groundbreaking guide to breaking free from the thoughts, habits, jobs , relationships, and even business models that prevent us from achieving our full potential.

Almost everyone feels stuck in some way. Whether you're muddling through a midlife crisis, wrestling writer's block, trapped in a thankless job, or trying to remedy a fraying friendship, the resulting emotion is usually a mix of anxiety, uncertainty, fear, anger, and numbness. But it doesn't have to be this way. Anatomy of a Breakthrough is the roadmap we all need to escape our inertia and flourish in the face of friction.

Adam Alter has spent the past two decades studying how people become stuck and how they free themselves to thrive. Here he reveals the formula he and other researchers have uncovered. The solution rests on a process that he calls a friction audit--a systematic procedure that uncovers why a person or organization is stuck, and then suggests a path to progress. The friction audit states that people and organizations get unstuck when they overcome three sources of friction: HEART (unhelpful emotions); HEAD (unhelpful patterns of thought); and HABIT (unhelpful behaviors).

Despite the ubiquity of friction, there are many great "unstickers" hidden in plain sight among us and Alter shines a light on some exceptional stories to share their valuable lessons with us. He tells us about the sub-elite swimmer who unstuck himself twice to win two Olympic gold medals, the actor who faced countless rejections before gaining worldwide fame, the renowned painter who became paralyzed and had to relearn to paint with a brush strapped to his wrist, and Alter's own story of getting unstuck from a college degree that made him deeply unhappy.

Artfully weaving together scientific studies, anecdotes, and interviews, Alter teaches us that getting stuck is a feature rather than a glitch on the road to thriving, but with the right tweaks and corrections we can reach even our loftiest targets.
Table of Contents
Introduction: The First Rule Is That You Will Get Stuckxi
Part IHelp
1Why Getting Stuck Is Inevitable3
2Keep Going21
3Traps and Lures39
Part IIHeart
5Pause Before You Play79
6Failing Well97
Part IIIHead
7Friction Audits and the Art of Simplification117
8Recombination and Pivoting137
9Diversity and Crowdsourcing157
Part IVHabit
11Exploring and Exploiting199
12Action above All219
Conclusion: 100 Ways to Get Unstuck235
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