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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Turning failure on its back and dissecting the particulars can take us into the next realm of our growth and expression
There are many famous achievements noted in THE RISE, but the most salient point about failure and what it provides the person who has failed in a particular endeavor comes from a member of Scott’s failed Arctic bid, Navy Explorer George Nares: “It is true that we failed to bring home the North Pole as a national present to the world, but those who regret that...
Published 8 months ago by Bookreporter

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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but bland
I read many great reviews of this book and having read hundreds of self-help and inspirational books as well as a number on mastery, innovation and creativity, I was expecting something really good. I was disapointed. She tells some good stories but tends to ramble on and not stay on point. The literary style of her writing might work well in a novel but I found it...
Published 7 months ago by Margarethe Bracey


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32 of 36 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Turning failure on its back and dissecting the particulars can take us into the next realm of our growth and expression, March 26, 2014
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Bookreporter (New York, New York) - See all my reviews
This review is from: The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery (Hardcover)
There are many famous achievements noted in THE RISE, but the most salient point about failure and what it provides the person who has failed in a particular endeavor comes from a member of Scott’s failed Arctic bid, Navy Explorer George Nares: “It is true that we failed to bring home the North Pole as a national present to the world, but those who regret that circumstance may be consoled with the knowledge that failure implants more deeply in all breasts the desire to excel.” THE RISE attempts to make the case that the lessons learned from spectacular failures can only enhance and support the masterpieces that come when anyone is forced to confront the bad and reconstruct an idea into its inevitable success.

Sarah Lewis doesn’t have a huge history with failure herself. She has a BA from Harvard, a Masters of Philosophy from Oxford, and is getting a Ph.D. from Yale this year. She has been a curator at the Tate Modern and MOMA in New York. She was on Obama’s Arts Policy Committee, on Oprah’s “Power List” and a Critic at the Yale University School of Art in the MFA program. Is it possible for someone this accomplished (and under 40) to really understand what failure is for most people? Well, Lewis doesn’t bother with any stories about ordinary people. Instead, she fills the book with tales from those who, despite searching for success at some point in their lives, found huge fame and accolades later on after a period of reconstruction and reinvention.

Mythmaker J.K. Rowling, choreographer Paul Taylor and activist Frederick Douglass are all examples of famous personages who suffered the slings and arrows of fate, who survived periods of lowdown depression and endless negative reinforcement only to take those anger-inducing, frustrating circumstances and turn them into lauded achievements later on. Lewis believes that this type of resilience is possible for anyone and that these examples serve to prove that it is truly possible to recreate oneself or one’s work into something that will find purpose in the greater world.

One of the things that brings Lewis’s sources to this point after a situation that would cause most people to run for cover and never try again is what she refers to as “grit.” The resilience to take failure and continue moving towards a goal, by rethinking the original plan or just going forward with a new project in the face of past failure, requires a certain mindset. Lewis says, “Grit is a portable skill that moves across seemingly varied interests. Grit can be expressed in your chosen pursuit and appears in multiple domains over time. It can be expressed through the pursuit of painting, and then through the invention of the telegraph.” Switching course and finding new ways to attempt your particular adventure is a necessary but learnable skill that helps people meet their potential. She spends a good part of the book discussing how other theorists agree that training kids to excel in “grit” would be a progressive step in truly preparing the young for inheriting our flawed world.

Lewis writes like an academic; this is no cozy Dr. Dyer book with everything boiled down to simplistic platitudes that would find refuge on cat posters. It is a very thoughtful look at turning lemons into lemonade. Turning failure on its back and dissecting the particulars can take us into the next realm of our growth and expression. Lewis thinks it’s possible, and after reading THE RISE, I have to say I believe her.

Reviewed by Jana Siciliano
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36 of 42 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad, but bland, April 24, 2014
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This review is from: The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery (Hardcover)
I read many great reviews of this book and having read hundreds of self-help and inspirational books as well as a number on mastery, innovation and creativity, I was expecting something really good. I was disapointed. She tells some good stories but tends to ramble on and not stay on point. The literary style of her writing might work well in a novel but I found it distracting in this type of book where one generally wants to get to the point and move on to the next in a more or less robust manner. I found mysel reading and re-reading long tangled sentences that didn't seem to quite nail down what she wanted to say but danced around it. Literary and artistic -- yes. Direct and succinct -- no. Nothing in the content is new or original, nor does she bring any of her own experience into the book which might have saved it from the blandness -- maybe because she doesn't have any. She's gone to school a lot is the only thing I can tell from her biography. She clearly did a lot of research and all that data might have overwhelmed the clear line of thought one has to hold to write a really good book, as well as the heart required to connect with the reader. She writes like a very bright school girl and not like someone who has had any real experience with the subject she chose. Not bad, but a book on overcoming failure, gaining mastery, and living a truly creative life needs an author who has lived it, at least to some extent, and not just gathered pretty stories to thread together.
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15 of 17 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Play, Safe Havens, Imagination, Surrender & Mastery: Sarah Lewis Teaches Us How to "Rise", March 11, 2014
This review is from: The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery (Hardcover)
In a world where many are happy to share their opinions regarding matters about which they have given little thought, Sarah Lewis has taken the time to gift us a deeply thoughtful and meticulously crafted book that chronicles with great aplomb how failure has led to some of the world's most well-regarded successes.

The impeccable research in "The Rise" and Sarah's ability to make connections between the complex and simple make the book infinitely quotable:
"We all have a blind spot around our privileges shaped exactly like us," as Junot Díaz said, and it can create a blindness to failures all around. It results in the Einstellung effect: the cost of success is that it can block our ability to see when what has worked well in the past might not any longer. In the face of entrenched failure, there are limits to reason's ability to offer us a way out. Play helps to see things anew, as do safe havens. Yet the imagination inspired from an aesthetic encounter can get us to the point of surrender, giving over to a new version of ourselves."

Play, safe havens, imagination, surrender. This book is filled with no shortage stunning illuminations.

Perhaps one of the greatest gifts Sarah offers us is the distinction between "success" and "mastery":
"Mastery requires endurance. Mastery, a word we don't use often, is not the equivalent of what we might consider its cognate -- perfectionism -- an inhuman aim motivated by a concern with how others view us. Mastery is also not the same as success -- an event-based victory based on a peak point, a punctuated moment in time. Mastery is not merely a commitment to a goal, but to a curved-line, constant pursuit."

In my mind, that quote alone makes "The Rise" an instant classic that will remain one of the top three books I gift to loved ones, friends, and associates who have vision, respect the need to attend to and correct failures, and seek mastery over success.
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14 of 18 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Failure is not part of being successful, but being human, March 11, 2014
This review is from: The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery (Hardcover)
In Sarah Lewis’ recent publication of “The Rise: Creativity, The Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery,” she asserts that the notion of failure is an important part of the creative process and in being a complete human being. For Lewis, being a “failure” – at least one with clear vision, process, and tenacity – gives you the drive to succeed and the springboard for true mastery. Lewis’ spectrum of knowledge and prototypes of successful “failures” in this book are not limited to fine artists. Refreshingly, her definition of creativity is broad and includes scientists, athletes, educators, and film executives. By using a variety of examples, Lewis has written a book that has the potential to strike a chord in almost anyone. Someone in this book will inspire you because they have lost just as you have. In fact, many people in this book have lost more than you ever will and have still had the “grit” to keep moving forward. In short, if failure is something we have in common, as Lewis asserts, then the ability to “rise” above it is something we have in common, as well. It is in this way that no matter where we are in our “dream” we are in the best of company.
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6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Disappointed, July 3, 2014
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This review is from: The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery (Hardcover)
For many wrong reasons I desperately wanted to love and find value in this book. It wasn’t to be.

It was a difficult read which strayed and never made a point. The writer is a very educated, curious, and connected person who did quite a bit of research, however never found a voice. I believe that the job of a writer is to be clear regarding her objective and communicate it in a way that the audience gets it. That didn’t happen.

One of the credits on the cover alluded to Malcolm Gladwell. The author may have intended to channel her inner Gladwell; without success. From the few things I’ve read from him, he seems to drill into his point with some side support material. This writer strayed, offered quite a bit of side information and never made a point.

I feel that the editing person failed. It’s his/her job to edit to a crisp; respecting but not fearful of the writer.

I kept being reminded of a very bad soup. Someone cleaned the refrigerator and put everything into a boiling pot; peanut butter, grape jelly, lemons, chicken bones, cabbage, ketchup; everything, then called it soup. It seems the title was ascribed to the book after the fact.

I very much wish this writer will write something else soon; this time keeping the reader in mind not ruminating loudly on a personal stream of consciousness. For this book I’ve already lost my time; if I could only get my money back.
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8 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars beautiful cover, March 11, 2014
This review is from: The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery (Hardcover)
Sarah Lewis explores in the book, The Rise: Creativity, The Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery, some universal questions of success and more important the impact of failure. What stimulates the creative mind?

A blend of scientific research and anecdotal stories, Lewis carves out some interesting concepts like the “near win” when someone comes in second. The “near win” can offer a different experience that success does not. She points to Julie Moss’s infamous Ironman finish and how it changed her. The effects of the bronze versus silver medal psychology.
Another concept is the “the unfinished quality of mastery” that can make iconic works feel like failures. Lewis cites as examples how Michelangelo’s philosophy of art as “an unending succession of contests”. How Cezanne only signed 10% of his work. How Paul Taylor keep trying even after his audience left after he pushed the envelope with a dance.
With “creating safe havens”, artists are able to do things to synchronize creativity. August Wilson would write on napkins and Robert Redford created Sundance.
Lewis’s book on the impact of failure in the arts is a fascinating read and reiterates that failure is often a better teacher than success.
The book’s language is a bit high brow in certain parts, but overall brings an interesting perspective on what it takes to exploit the opportunity found in creativity.
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7 of 9 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Intellectualizing the obvious?, April 30, 2014
This review is from: The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery (Hardcover)
The topic of this book interests me greatly, and I really wanted to like this book, but in the end I found myself exasperated and wishing I hadn't spent the time.

The author apparently likes to tell stories and think out loud, so she writes many words, but I repeatedly found myself saying "that's nice, but what exactly is your point?" I don't think she's trying to be elusive, I suspect the problem is just that she becomes so enchanted with nuances and complexity that she forgets to focus and get to the bottom line. In other words, her style of thought is highly intellectual rather than pragmatic.

And to the extent that she makes a point, it seems rather obvious: if you want to succeed in anything which is generally considered challenging, expect to face difficulties of various kinds - including uncertainties, risks, obstacles, setbacks, and failures - so you'll need to be persistent and patient, and also wise in making judgments regarding when to change course or even give up to avoid making things worse. Really, that's about it, that's the whole book in a nutshell. Nothing here that isn't widely known, especially to those who have some real life experience with success and failure.

And what the author *doesn't* note is that *luck* is also a factor in success versus failure. We routinely hear about those who faced many failures before succeeding because those stories inspire us, but we don't tend to hear about those who kept trying and failing without ever really succeeding, thus fading away into the obscurity of the masses.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Sarah Lewis’ new book is a study of how we may rise to our best potential not in spite of failures, but because of them., April 1, 2014
This review is from: The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery (Hardcover)
What matters in mastery is not only what we do and how we do it, but how we speak about what we are doing. To a great extent ‘words make our worlds’, because language is the foundation of how we communicate. It gives birth to constructs which become our mental imagery and help us describe and define our lives and the world we live in. The gift of increased conceptual clarity and understanding of the creative process (regard to failure) is what I consider one of the most beautiful contributions of Sarah Lewis’ exploration into “where we would rather not and expand in ways we never knew we could.”

Not only is Lewis’ personal story a glorious inspiration for many future trailblazers (especially for women in science), but her work sheds some much needed light into our understanding of the determinants of mastery, achievement, success and even thriving. Grasping some of the main tenets of this masterful piece comes down to understanding the dichotomy of success vs. mastery. (The relationship between the two reminds me of the relationship between happiness and meaning. Happiness is like success in that it is more about the momentary and often fleeting experience of subjective well-being or an individual’s sense of achievement. However, mastery and meaning are what act as the strong, sustainable building blocks of our life’s narrative and therefore contribute to what is a more deep-seated understanding of our entire purpose and existence.)

Lewis also addresses the Finnish construct of 'sisu', which is a newcomer within the psychological discourse relating to achievement and mental toughness. Much like sisu, I believe mastery is about prospection and seeing beyond the limitations of our current situation. It is about waking up morning after morning, not complaining but doing what must be done - until we see the gorgeous long-awaited rise of the brand new day we have been waiting for.

'The Rise' is highly recommended for anyone interested in deepening their understanding of how to ‘transform barriers into frontiers’. In the core of Lewis’ book is the study of how we may rise to our best potential not in spite of failures, but because of them.

Emilia Lahti
MAPP
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars An Important "Gutsy" Book!, June 14, 2014
This review is from: The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery (Hardcover)
I love that Sarah Lewis has explored how being persistent leads to success, taking a failure as a sign that one needs to continuing to push forward. She calls this important characteristic of persistence despite failure being "gutsy" or having grit. I totally resonated with her discussions pointing to the idea that for success being "gutsy" is more important than intelligence. I like that she includes the idea that teaching our children the importance of learning to push forward despite failure is of tremendous importance.

This book will really get you to reflecting and reassessing some experiences around failure of your own as well as ones you have observed in others. Here is an observation that I made some years ago and find quite relative to Sarah's discussions concerning "learning to fail": While in graduate school in psychology, I noticed a couple of teachers giving some straight A students a B or even a C on a paper. And when questioned by the students who received these grades, the response of the teachers was that they thought they needed to learn how to fail in their own eyes (I never thought a B was failing but some people certainly did). At the time, I personally thought the teachers were being a bit cruel, but now after reading this book, I have reassessed that decision and can see where they were coming from. I think that the teachers were trying to prepare the students for the constant revision process that often feels like failure to the candidate who is writing a thesis. Actually, however, I did not find that these students learned this valuable lesson of learning how to fail and be persistent from this experience of one lowered grade, as they were people who had long ago learned to push forward despite failure.

I quite enjoyed the information and research from all the many interviews that she took the time to have in her mastery of this topic on the gift of failure.

Martha Love
author of What's Behind Your Belly Button?: A Psychological Perspective of the Intelligence of Human Nature and Gut Instinct
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good descriptions of individuals whose experience of failure plays a pivotal role in their creativity, May 20, 2014
This review is from: The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery (Hardcover)
What I like about the book: The author provides numerous story lines of people who have experienced failure and yet have not lost a vision for that something they are seeking. I enjoyed the first and last chapters the most. The Unfinished Masterpiece chapter reminds me that striving to reach mastery should be a lifetime effort. It will undoubtedly be a great letdown in life to conclude that one has reached mastery and all that it connotes. Always be learning and moving closer to the ideal. The Grit of the Arts chapter was informative, inspirational, and motivational. If we keep our minds receptive to valuable criticism and learn from our life failures, we can be led down creative and productive avenues of life. Don't lose hope, channel it along positive openings. I have read all these essential truths before, but somehow its always good to read it again from the lens of another persons research and understanding.

Failure is not to be feared or avoided. Learn from it and it will thrust you towards a better place and help you
become a better person. Overall a good book worth reading once.
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The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery
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