- Explore more great deals on thousands of titles in our Deals in Books store.
Enter your mobile number or email address below and we'll send you a link to download the free Kindle App. Then you can start reading Kindle books on your smartphone, tablet, or computer - no Kindle device required.
To get the free app, enter your mobile phone number.
Better By Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong Paperback – Bargain Price, April 3, 2012
|New from||Used from|
The Amazon Book Review
Author interviews, book reviews, editors picks, and more. Read it now
Customers who bought this item also bought
What other items do customers buy after viewing this item?
Special offers and product promotions
I wrote Better by Mistake to explore an ongoing tension: We’re taught when we’re young that we learn from mistakes, but the reality is that most of us hate and dread them.
A friend of mine loves to tell the anecdote of driving her son home from kindergarten and asking what he learned. “Nothing,” he said. “Nothing?” she asked. “You didn’t learn a single thing?” “No,” he replied. “My teacher said you learn by making mistakes, and I didn’t make any today.”
Imagine if that attitude survived throughout our lives. If, when we thought about how our day went, we didn’t regret our mistakes, but proudly thought about those we had made and what we had drawn from them.
It takes work—but we can try to recapture that philosophy. Through research and interviews, I found that there are ways all of us can shift our thinking about mistakes. And in doing so, we’ll learn how to leave behind the defensiveness and accusations that too often accompany errors and experiences of failure. We can be more willing to embrace risks and work creatively. We can feel good about the process, not just about the result.
It begins young. Research shows that children praised for being smart are often far less willing to take on a challenging task than those who are praised for trying hard. The lesson? We need to emphasize effort and deemphasize results. We can appreciate that we—and they—can’t be perfect, nor is it a goal we should aim for. And we should be careful of sending the contradictory message that it’s all right to make mistakes but not where it counts.
We’ve learned that mistakes aren’t usually the fault of one bad apple, but far more often are caused by latent problems that a blatant error can bring to light. If we focus on the superficial error without doing the harder—yet ultimately more profitable—work of examining what led to the blunder, we don’t learn the lessons mistakes can teach us.
In writing this book, I’ve discovered that everything hinges on communication. Giving and receiving criticism and negative feedback, as well as apologizing and accepting apologies, are difficult to do in a way that encourages rather than shuts down the conversation. I’ve tried to convey to readers just how they can approach this tough but ultimately fruitful process.
Research has shown us that there are tools we can use—all of us, from parents to teachers to doctors to pilots to CEOs—to help us communicate far more successfully. Improved communication can lead to mistakes being a source of education, not of shame. And it can ultimately improve our work and our relationships with our bosses, spouses, and children.
If we can forgive ours and others’ errors—if we can put in our best effort, but at the same time acknowledge that perfection is a myth—then we’re on the right track.
From Publishers Weekly
In her absorbing first book, veteran journalist Tugend confronts a common but complicated subject: making mistakes. Beginning with two universal truths—people are not perfect and mistakes happen—the author first defines her subject as separate from "error" and in consideration of its outcome (mistakes have led to countless scientific advances, for instance). Tugend investigates the fear of failure and shame of messing up that pervade American society (though we're not alone); unsurprisingly, the fear starts early and is reinforced often. One of Tugend's recurring themes is that we not only can, but should learn from our mistakes, and chapters discuss major errors from Wall Street, the field of aviation, and the hospital floor, including a famous case of the wrong limb being amputated. These case studies put into perspective our daily errors and illustrate the progress being made in mistake prediction and reduction. And the distinction between "person approach" and "system approach," posited by James Reason in Human Error, is also addressed. While Tugend's study of gender differences in this arena seems to circle the issue without landing anywhere truly interesting, her analysis of saying "I'm sorry" is highly illuminating. Ultimately Tugend succeeds, by stripping mistakes of their power to intimidate and effectively redefining them into malleable, manageable learning tools. (Mar. 17) --This text refers to an alternate Paperback edition.
Top customer reviews
Tugend never simply laments mistake-making. Instead she provides insightful analysis of how mistakes happens, how they might have been avoided, and how to learn from them. For instance, she offers alternate approaches to the damaging tendency of large corporations to value profit and outward "success" above the truly valuable, if sometimes, inevitably, flawed contributions of employees. She examines catostrophic mistakes (avaiation disasters, the Iraq War, Bhopal, Chernobyl, recent financial meltdowns) and small everyday mistakes (a spouse's misplacement of his keys or a child's of his cell phone) with equal depth and insightfulness. One of the things that makes this book such a delight is Tugend's refreshing emotional honesty about her own mistakes. And she sheds light both on great historical forces and internal psychological ones -- a poignant example being her Jewish grandfather's reluctance to leave Germany in the Thirties, a feeling shared by many Jews.
BETTER BY MISTAKE is sweeping in its scope yet thoroughly accessible. It is enlightening and eminently useful to any parent, teacher, business person, medical professional, and imperfect human being (who isn't?)
Thank you, Alina Tugend, for this gift of a book. (Oh, and it also made me laugh many times, no mean feat given the subject matter!)
This is a unique book and Tugend surveys a panoply of subject matter looking at mistakes from various perspectives including aviation, medicine, and gender. However, despite its rich content, I cannot recommend the book. My disinclination is due primarily to form rather than substance. The books is, well... boring; I had to force myself through nearly every chapter. (By way of full disclosure I should inform the reader that I have written a book on combustion modeling, so this is perhaps the pot calling the kettle black.) The tough slogging was a bit surprising because Tugend is a former newspaper reporter, and one would expect snappy or even Hemingway-esque prose from such an author; alas, that is not the case. It is also possible that I suffer from some of the gender bias in processing information that Tugend describes; shopping is not an journey for me, it is a destination. That is also the way I read factual books, and probably the reason I have never written a murder mystery -- the executive summary would read: "the butler did it; see Figure 1" followed by 500 pages of notes. The reason I am being so self-descriptive here is because I want the reader to understand the psychology of my aversion to this book. If you have a different way of processing information then you may enjoy the ride. Certainly there is something to be learned from reading Better by Mistake, but for me it just wasn't worth 300 pages of effort.
Most recent customer reviews
This is an excellent book. Not only is it well-written and well-researched, but the narration flows smoothly, and the...Read more