When I work with #bookin8days clients, I get the question about “writer’s block” a lot. That is why I decided to pick up “Anatomy of a Breakthrough: How to get unstuck and unlock your potential”.
The good news is that whatever happens, you will get unstuck one way or the other. Life quakes are also part of the package of life. Every life story is dotted with small and large life disruptions. Medical issues, deaths and personal losses, the end of relationships, financial setbacks, job losses or changes, natural disasters, and personal shifts. Six in ten lifequakes are involuntary events that arrive suddenly, and six in seven involve a shift from stability to volatility. Lifequakes are so disruptive that they last for an average of five years.
Transition is a kill
The most important feature of lifequakes is that they’re hard to predict. You don’t plan for a lifequake the way you might anticipate an impending plateau, so instead, you need to develop a general tool kit for managing unwanted change. Life transitions are a skill. They’re a skill we can and must master. The lifequakes concept recognises that life is messy. We spend a huge percentage of our lives in transition.
However, in between the lifequakes, everyone gets stuck. Advise number one. Keep going. Inspiration is for amateurs; the rest of us just show up and get to work. If you wait for the clouds to part and a bolt of lightning to strike you in the brain, you will not make an awful lot of work. The golden rule is that getting unstuck almost always takes longer than we expect—and too often, we surrender just a few steps short of the finish line.
Persistence is everything
In creativity, persistence is everything. It is never only “aha” but also production. Creativity is sometimes hard work. You may not know when good ideas arrive, but you have a better chance of stumbling on them if you give them time to flourish. When smart people say, “You make your own luck,” what they’re really saying is that luck is less mystical than it seems. The best way to be lucky is to persevere because luck overlaps with longevity.
Limited by by culture and biology
Creativity is almost always elusive because we’re all susceptible to the same cultural and biological forces. We share ideas about what makes something beautiful, valuable or desirable, and it’s difficult to escape the constraints imposed by those ideas. In a process known as convergent evolution, two species without recent common ancestors will sometimes evolve to become similar. Convergent evolution is strikingly common. The evolution of these convergent species mimics the evolution of ideas—and the term meme originally described ideas that developed and changed by evolution.
Other tips (the book gives you a 100)
- Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.
- Novelty is overrated
- Be non-judgmental
- Discard the ideas that pop up during rounds one and two—but recognise that they’ll pave the way for the interesting, eccentric ideas that are likely to emerge during round three.
- Embrace radical acceptance—learning to accept and live with the prospect of failure.
- Strive for excellence instead of perfection.
- Let go.
- Time is your friend.
- Lower your standards.
- Slow down.
- Duration = success.
- Look for the sacred pause.
- Fail well.
- Inoculate hardship.
- Apply exposure therapy.
- Recognise the difference between essentials and distraction
- Do a friction audit.
- Recombine. Combine two old ideas to form a new one
- Write down all the good ideas you see.
- Know less and struggle more
- Arch-originality is a myth, and believing that radical novelty is the only path forward is paralysing.
- You’re rarely as well understood as you think you are
- Deep expertise is often a recipe for rigidity
- Working with new people
- Connect with the outsiders with different perspectives
- If you’re stuck, share your situation with someone new and different.
- Be unselfish
- Create habits
- Apply OODA (observe, orient, decide, and act)
- Be curious.
- Follow the explore/exploit cycle.
- Prepare for serendipity.
- Apply 20-80 as a rule.
- Wander and wonder.
- Micro schedule.
- Bad ideas are the essential foundations,
- Learn to find a sweet spot between smooth, slow, continuous progress and bursts of rapid progress
- Look for rules and algorithms.
Action above all
If getting unstuck is a combination of feelings, thoughts, and actions, the driving force among this trio is actions. Dozens of studies have now shown that moving your body is a reliable path to mental unsticking. Fluid movement is particularly important when you’re trying to get unstuck. Studies have shown, for example, that free-flowing dance, rhythmic walking, and even tracing smooth rather than jagged, disjointed shapes inspire creativity and insight. Therefore, develop action-based habits. Rigidity—doing the same thing over and over or sticking to a strict regime—is paradoxically freeing when you’re stuck. When you run occasionally, you might tell someone, “I run,” but if you run habitually, say four times a week, you might instead say, “I’m a runner.” Psychologists have shown that doing an action repeatedly—moving from verb (run) to noun (runner)—prevents friction and encourages action across many contexts. As soon as you act, even modestly, you’re no longer stuck.