Summary of Embrace the Near Win

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Embrace the Near Win summary
Success is not the ultimate goal but a stop on a lifelong creative journey toward mastery.


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“Trying is the first step toward failure,” according to Homer Simpson. His self-defeatist attitude prevents the animated character from achieving much in life. Yet little does Homer know that “near wins” serve to keep innovators in pursuit of an unattainable ideal – true mastery. In this stirring talk, art critic Sarah Lewis turns a proverb on its head: If at first you do succeed, try, try again. getAbstract believes creatives in all fields will find inspiration in her talk.

In this summary, you will learn

  • Why mastery is an unattainable ideal,
  • How “near wins” stimulate further achievement and
  • How you can find inspiration in near wins.


During a retrospective of her work at New York’s Museum of Modern Art, artist Elizabeth Murray confessed that she considered many of her paintings from the 1970s failures. She had even previously thrown one of the pieces on display into the trash, but a neighbor retrieved it. While Murray’s show commemorated...
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About the Speaker

Sarah Lewis is an art critic, curator and historian who has served on the National Arts Policy Committee. She wrote The Rise: Creativity, the Gift of Failure and the Search for Mastery.

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