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The Rise

The Rise

Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery

  • freshman reading
It is one of the enduring enigmas of the human experience: many of our most iconic, creative endeavors—from Nobel Prize–winning discoveries to entrepreneurial inventions and works in the arts—are not achievements but conversions, corrections after failed attempts.

The gift of failure is a riddle. Like the number zero, it will always be both a void and the start of infinite possibility. The Rise—a soulful celebration of the determination and courage of the human spirit—makes the case that many of our greatest triumphs come from understanding the importance of this mystery.

This exquisite biography of an idea is about the improbable foundations of creative human endeavor. The Rise begins with narratives about figures past and present who range from writers to entrepreneurs; Frederick Douglass, Samuel F. B. Morse, and J. K. Rowling, for example, feature alongside choreographer Paul Taylor, Nobel Prize–winning physicists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, Arctic explorer Ben Saunders, and psychology professor Angela Duckworth.

The Rise explores the inestimable value of often ignored ideas—the power of surrender for fortitude, the criticality of play for innovation, the propulsion of the near win on the road to mastery, and the importance of grit and creative practice. From an uncommonly insightful writer, The Rise is a true masterwork.
  • Simon & Schuster | 
  • 272 pages | 
  • ISBN 9781451629231 | 
  • March 2014
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The Gift of Failure and the Search for Mastery

Oprah Power List pick, Sarah Lewis, describes the importance of setbacks in creative endeavor.

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The Rise ARCHER’S PARADOX
The women of the Columbia University archery team stepped out of their van on a cold spring afternoon with a relaxed focus; one held a half-eaten ice cream cone in her right hand and a fistful of arrows with yellow fletching in her left; another sported a mesh guard over her shirt, on top of her breast as protection from the tension line of the bow. Baker Athletics Complex, the university’s sporting fields at the northern tip of Manhattan, seemed to have a set of carefree warriors on its grounds.
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About the Author

Sarah Lewis
© by Annie Leibovitz

Sarah Lewis

Sarah Lewis has served on President Obama’s Arts Policy Committee, been selected for Oprah’s “Power List,” and is a Critic at the Yale University School of Art in the MFA program. She is also an active curator, having held positions at both the Tate Modern and The Museum of Modern Art. Her writing on contemporary art has been published extensively. She received her BA from Harvard University, an MPhil from Oxford University, and her PhD from Yale University. She lives in New York City.

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