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How do you get to Carnegie Hall? Mistakes, mistakes, mistakes

Mar 16, 2011
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Does practice really make perfect? Or is perfection a mythical, unattainable goal? These are some of the questions author Alina Tugend explores in her new book, Better by Mistake: The Unexpected Benefits of Being Wrong. Also a columnist for the New York Times, Tugend once made a mistake in one of her articles, ultimately resulting in a dreaded public correction. Before ‘fessing up, she agonized over her error. She tried to ignore it. She contemplated keeping quiet about it. She even went so far as to rationalize that she was actually correct. Eventually, however, journalistic ethics won out and she told her editor. The internal struggle she experienced at the presence of a singular, superficial mistake led her to investigate further the nature of human error and how it’s perceived on both a personal and societal level. With the zeal of a recovering perfectionist, Tugend delved into how mistakes are dealt with from the dynamic of errors between parents and children, to those between corporations and consumers. Are mistakes really deserving of humiliation and punishment? Or should they be accepted – even revered – for their powerful learning potential?

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