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Better by Mistake

New York Times columnist Alina Tugend delivers an eye-opening big idea: Embracing mistakes can make us smarter healthier and happier in every facet of our lives. In this persuasive book journalist Alina Tugend examines the delicate tension between what we’re told—we must make mistakes in order to learn—and the reality—we often get punished for them. She shows us that mistakes are everywhere and when we acknowledge and identify them correctly we can improve not only ourselves but our families our work and the world around us as well. Bold and dynamic insightful and provocative Better by Mistake turns our cultural wisdom on its head to illustrate the downside of striving for perfection and the rewards of acknowledging and accepting mistakes and embracing the imperfection in all of us. Alina Tugend on Better by Mistake:. 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. Author: Tugend Alina. Publisher: Riverhead Trade. Pages: 304. Dimensions: 8.2" x 0.8" x 5.4".
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About the Author

Alina Tugend writes the the award-winning biweekly column "ShortCuts" for the New York Times, and a parenting column for Worth magazine. She was born and raised in Southern California and spent seven years in London before moving to Larchmont, New York, with her husband and two sons.


""Better By Mistake" is a fascinating and wide-ranging exploration of the deeply human phenomenon of screwing up. With Alina Tugend as your wise (and wise-cracking) guide, you'll learn why perfection is a myth, why apologies pack power, and why effort is often more important than results. And once you've finished this book, you'll never look at mistakes -- or yourself -- the same way." -Daniel H. Pink, author of "Drive" and "A Whole New Mind" "Oh what a jewel of a book this is! Read it, smile, learn, be surprised, then rejoice in your newly found power of imperfection. Glory in your foibles, rejoice in your mistakes, knowing that if you will but embrace what you may have wanted to deny or avoid, not only will you become more true, you will also grow both in strength and in joy." -Edward Hallowell, M.D., author of "CrazyBusy" and "Driven to Distraction" "The research presented in "Better by Mistake" is refreshingly clear and often surprising. Read it and find

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