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Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society Paperback – July 17, 1995

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Editorial Reviews

Review

“This is the most exciting and significant book that I have read in years. The subject is the self-renewal of societies and of individuals—why do some atrophy and decay, while others remain innovative and creative? There is no more vital problem than this, especially for an era of constantly accelerating change such as the present.” (L. S. Stavrianos, Northwestern University - Chicago Daily News)

About the Author

A noted social commentator, John W. Gardner was a former cabinet secretary and the founder of Common Cause.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 176 pages
  • Publisher: W. W. Norton & Company; Reissue edition (July 17, 1995)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 039331295X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0393312959
  • Product Dimensions: 0.6 x 0.8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 8 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #170,901 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

103 of 104 people found the following review helpful By James L. Grubb on January 3, 2000
Format: Paperback
A deeply perceptive (short) paperback on the self-renewal of individuals and societies; why some decay and others remain innovative and creative. Now in his 90th year, Mr. Gardner continues to teach at Stanford. In clear, concise terms the author sets down the factors that produce deterioration in people and societies. He maintains they are caused mostly by failure to deal with change. The factors? He names five.
SELF-DEVELOPMENT. Not just skills, but the whole range of our own potentialities for sensing, wondering, learning, understanding and aspiring. Gardner points out that this does not happen until one gets over the odd notion that education is what goes on in school buildings and nowhere else.
SELF-KNOWLEDGE. By midlife we are accomplished fugitives from ourselves. Our lives are filled with diversions; our heads stuffed with knowledge; we are involved with people. Result: we've never taken time to probe our inner selves. We don't want to know ourselves. We don't want to depend upon ourselves. We can't stand to live with ourselves. A better way is to develop a more comfortable view of who you are. It is the true basis of inner strength.
COURAGE TO FAIL. By the time we reach middle age, we carry in our heads a long list of things we'll never try again because we tried once and failed. Mature people learn less because they are willing to risk less. There's no learning without difficulty and fumbling, but if you want to keep on learning, you must keep risking failure.
LOVE. Develop the ability to have mutually fruitful relations with others. Be capable of accepting love and giving it; of depending upon others and of being depended upon. Develop the ability to see life through another's eyes and reach out to others.
MOTIVATION.
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15 of 15 people found the following review helpful By Dr. W. G. Covington, Jr. on June 26, 2003
Format: Paperback
Two recurring themes of achievers are mentioned in the first few pages of this book, the importance of toughminded optimism and the power of persistence. It is in that spirit that Gardner develops his topic. With the inevitability of change, openness to new experience is vital to self-renewal he claims. Being active in intentional change leads to growth rather than change by default he explains. Knowing how to creatively interact with changes in the environment is a learned ability that can lead to the development of new potentialities Gardner writes.
This interactive process is experienced at the individual level also. Gardner describes healthy self-renewing people as those who both give and accept love. They depend on other people and are capable of having other people depend on them.
Passion is part of the self-renewed life. He says people of that bent know they must have conviction about what they are doing and if they don't, they need to find something they can have conviction about.
The principles he describes at the individual level have implications collectively as well. He goes on to state that "it is important that a society create an atmostphere that encourages effort, striving and vigorous performance" (p. 20). It is within social systems that individuals make their contributions. A lot of wise insight is provided in this book. He leaves the readers better off than when they picked up the book to read.
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful By Kimberley F. Richards on April 4, 2007
Format: Paperback
I purchased this book as a course requirement but will continue to use this as a renewal product to recharge the batteries. When you are feeling stagnant, this is a great book to read before you go out and try to change your world.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By ryn76 on January 26, 2010
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is NOT a self-help, pop psychology book.
This IS a profoundly eloquent, deeply perceptive, compelling set of antidotes to soundbites.
It is timeless. It puts forth pragmatic and resonant ways of navigating the complexities of dynamic change within the necessary stability of society.
Gardner's observations on innovation, creativity, motivation are quietly inspiring.
Please look at the Table of Contents to get a glimpse.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful By M. Lenington on September 25, 2008
Format: Paperback
This book has many important points that I am using in my graduate work. It was first written many years ago and the information and theories still apply today.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Robert Kirk VINE VOICE on August 18, 2013
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is a book that you can't help but feel positive and hopeful for a better tomorrow. Some might find it a bit too hopeful but this book's prediction of some of the great things our society will become is already coming true. It's a short book that should be read every couple of years to help you refocus on possibilities of the greatness that resides in individuals. I just read a new book and it talked about how society can't be great if the individuals only care of about their own success and I couldn't disagree more. If every individual took care and improved himself then society would be much better.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful By Beth M. on June 20, 2014
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
We were assigned this book to read for our Poli Sci term paper... I found the book extremely intriguing, and thought-provoking!

The edition that I purchased came with the author's signature, and the previous owner included a copy of the Stanford newspaper article of the in-person reading.

Great book - glad I was introduced to this book.
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By lay on September 16, 2012
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
this book is really making me think about how i see the world and how i should be an active participant in society. it's a quick read but has alot of depth. must read!
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