The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery
From celebrated art historian, curator, and teacher Sarah Lewis, a fascinating examination of how our most iconic creative endeavors—from innovation to the arts—are not achievements but conversions, corrections after failed attempts.
The gift of failure is a riddle: it will always be both the void and the start of infinite possibility. The Rise—part investigation into a psychological mystery, part an argument about creativity and art, and part a soulful celebration of the determination and courage of the human spirit—makes the case that many of the world’s greatest achievements have come from understanding the central importance of failure.
Written over the course of four years, this exquisite biography of an idea is about the improbable foundations of a creative human endeavor. Each chapter focuses on the inestimable value of often ignored ideas—the power of surrender, how play is essential for innovation, the “near win” can help propel you on the road to mastery, the importance of grit and creative practice. The Rise shares narratives about figures past and present that range from choreographers, writers, painters, inventors, and entrepreneurs; Frederick Douglass, Samuel F.B. Morse, Diane Arbus, and J.K. Rowling, for example, feature alongside choreographer Paul Taylor, Nobel Prize–winning physicists Andre Geim and Konstantin Novoselov, and Arctic explorer Ben Saunders.
With valuable lessons for pedagogy and parenting, for innovation and discovery, and for self-direction and creativity, The Rise “gives the old chestnut ‘If at first you don’t succeed…’ a jolt of adrenaline” (Elle).
"The path to a great achievement—whether it is a technological innovation or a masterwork of art—is almost never direct. On the contrary, creative breakthroughs often come after wrenching failures. That idea animates The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure, and the Search for Mastery, a book by Sarah Lewis, an art curator who is completing her PhD at Yale. Based on 150 interviews with artists and explorers as well as scientists and entrepreneurs, the book is neither a self-help manual nor a bundle of case studies. It’s a meditation on accomplishments that come from seemingly improbable circumstances and the connections between art and science." [book review by Brian Bergstein, MIT Technology Review]