Friday, 31 October 2008

Review of Getting Unstuck: How Dead Ends Become New Paths by Timothy Butler


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The Author Dr. Timothy Butler is a Senior Fellow and the Director of Career Development Programs at Harvard Business School.


This book is ideal for all those facing psychological impasse due to personal and professional reasons. This book promises to help you how to recognise the state of psychological impasse and use it as a springboard to real change. The book has been arranged in 3 parts viz., Impasse, Vision and Getting Unstuck. The author contends that impasse is a necessary crisis in everybody’s life to change and grow (I whole heartedly endorse this view based on personal experience). A path breaking definition for Vision has been given in the book. Fig 1.2 which explains the cycle of impasse and vision is a must display on the desktop of all those beyond the mid 30s.


We are all self critics and possibly very good at it. The author has borrowed the concept of “The Accuser” by William Blake, the English Poet to drive home this point (P.I Ch.2). He has given a practical threefold strategy to deal with this problem. The definition of free attention (P.I Ch.3) and the exercise prescribed for it is worth emulating. The One Hundred Jobs Exercise (P.I Ch.4) takes your thinking to new frontiers.


The author starts Part II (Vision) with a theme called “Pattern in the carpet”. Certain recurring themes signal what is vital for us. From these themes we can discern the type of activities, work environments and close relationships that make our lives most satisfying. In the chapter Our Deepest Interests (P.II, Ch. V) he has talked about the Ten Basic Interest and also an exercise to identify an interest or two close to your heart. You don’t have to read the entire book; this one chapter should bring a radical change in the way your life is progressing. Grab this book from anyone who has it just to read this section. In the next chapter he has talked about what to do with weakness? In the subsequent chapter he identifies the central role that the three social needs power, people and achievement play in our life decisions. In the next chapter “Mapping our insights” he has given an exercise how to map our insights


The next Part is Getting Unstuck (Part 3). This is the final step in the cycle of impasse and is about integrating what we have learned so that we can make a decision and take action. He has talked about exploring the poles i.e. we need to go to each pole of tension (read individual areas of interest) and simply focus there intently. He also talks about the methods to implement the images gathered from the poles of tension. The final chapter is “Living at the Border” wherein he talks about how to identify an impasse. The only way according to the author to avoid an impasse is to live completely openly because then we would face each moment without any evasions, excuses or attachments to old habits.


This book is a must read for all those who want to break free in life and explore their true self.




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