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Startacular: Training in the Art of Initiative Paperback – April 1, 2013
Top customer reviews
Secondly, I thought the insights were strong without coming across as a typical boring self-help book. He is genuinely entertaining while making his point.
Lastly, I found a lot of overlap with other books I've read, but still found a lot of good new material. The idea of practicing "starting" is new to me, and has been helpful in turning my talk into action.
I was worried at first that Startacular would be like a drill sergeant yelling at me in what would sound something like "YOU ARE A FAILURE when you don't act!!!" Thankfully, the author makes it clear that we are imperfect beings. To me, this book is specifically about working through and overcoming our failure to act and in my humble opinion his words are well-taken and valid.
Startacular preaches perfectionism in moderation, which is no easy feat. The author has the voice of a tough and caring teacher who does not let his student off the hook and who makes little room for her mistakes. But, without admitting to it, he leaves room for her to breathe, by reminding her of her `human-ness' and giving messages such as "stop with intention, stop with pleasure." This book is full of healthy messages. Yes I say healthy, because as a psychologist I don't believe in making people any more neurotic than we already are. His message "stop thinking about when you should do something or when you'd prefer to do it, and instead focus on when you can and will do it" made me smile in gratitude.
I loved the way the book is broken down. It made it easy to start each section because I wanted more from each previous page. Every page is smart, to the point, and encouraging: "Focus on Starting, starting is the hardest part of doing, focusing on the finish isn't effective..." The messages are heartwarming as they give hope that everyone can take his steps when it comes to starting.
The steps through which he defines and describes the concept of initiative are strong. Everything became clear to me with the golfing metaphor, where he explains that mastering requires persistent action. "Swing! Swing! Swing!" is my new mantra. It translates to "Start! Start! Start!" The distinction between habit and what he is teaching (i.e., cultivating the act of taking initiative) is quite powerful. "A person of initiative develops useful habits, but does not rely on them." Amen!
The general tone of Startacular is that of using interesting metaphors and analogies, and his primary weapons are conviction and convincing. For readers who might want to connect more with him, he gave few personal examples. I wanted to hear more of his personal story. Why did he choose writing as his "vehicle?"
For the abstract thinker Daniel Zoller's book is genius and convincing. For the science student who thrives off data, his data collection method, to track our ability to start, is a start but I wonder if he could also add some more empirical support.
Finally, I love the wise quotes, and the author is quite quotable himself. His voice is convincing, and he certainly makes the reader want to get up and do something. He is witty and he tells the reader about the harsh reality. That is, when you fail to act, you have no one to blame but yourself!
I don't read many self help books because the ones I have tried sound like tv commercials or cheerleading camp. This one is more like having a get-real conversation with someone who wants to help you and gives you the dirty truth along with plenty of encouragement.
One small criticism: I found myself wanting the essay-like first part to be longer because those ideas are what convinces the reader that the techniques in part two are so necessary. Overall, a very convincing and enjoyable read.
Now let me tell you what this book does NOT do. This book does not give you a blueprint for how to succeed on any one specific project. It also does not teach you how to manage multiple conflicting projects or find a work/life balance. It does not teach you how to maximize your creativity, organization, or people skills. Startacular teaches a single skill: how to get started consistently and make steady progress through steady effort.
This book forces you to take a long hard look at why you have not accomplished your goals. Then, through a combination of tough love, inspiration and practical tips, get you back on course for reaching those goals. It reminds you that the biggest hurdles to success are often your own disinterest, fear of failure and general laziness! It then goes on to give you practical advice for how to make initiative and action part of your everyday life.
Since reading Startacular, I have recommended it to a number of friends who are working on big projects but find themselves hitting a wall or losing steam. For myself, I plan on keeping Startacular on my short list of self-help reference guides that I pick up once a month to read a chapter or two. In fact, I challenge you to read more than two chapters without needing to put it down again because you're so eager to get back to work on one of your projects!
I cannot recommend this book highly enough.