The Up Side of Down Book Summary - The Up Side of Down Book explained in key points

The Up Side of Down summary

Megan McArdle

Why Failing Well Is the Key to Success

3.7 (16 ratings)
16 mins

Brief summary

The Up Side of Down by Megan McArdle is a book that examines the benefits of failure. It explores how we can learn from mistakes and use them to improve ourselves and achieve success. The book provides insights and strategies for navigating adversity and coming out stronger on the other side.

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    The Up Side of Down
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    Learning how to fail gracefully is truly the only way to progress, and eventually, succeed.

    Sometimes it feels as though some people crash into every possible hurdle, while others never seem to even stumble.

    The truth is that we all fail. It’s how we fail that separates the ordinary from the extraordinary.

    One way that we struggle with failure has to do with how we conceptualize it, incorrectly assuming that success comes from an innate talent or intelligence, rather than through hard work and commitment.

    Take Carol Dweck’s experiment, for example, in which two groups of children took a simple test and all passed. The children then got to choose from a collection of follow-up tests that varied in difficulty.

    One group was told they did well on the first test because of “how smart they were.” This group was likely to choose an easy follow-up test.

    The second group was told they did well “because of their hard work.” This group, in contrast, was much more willing to take on a challenge with a more difficult test, and succeed in the face of adversity.

    When children are praised for their innate skills, they find it harder to face challenges. “Naturally gifted” people will prefer to take an easier road over a bumpy one.

    Such people can’t fail gracefully. When coddled children finally end up in college or the “real world,” they don’t understand the importance of hard work, how to take criticism or how to fail.

    It’s not innate talent but graceful failure that leads to success, even if it’s a long and painful process. Those who see failure as normal and surmountable, who have a growth mentality, see that they have nothing to fear from failure.

    Mark Twain, for example, was a largely unsuccessful writer before he wrote Huckleberry Finn. Isaac Newton made blunders, too. Before his breakthrough discoveries in physics, he was drawn to alchemy, a pseudo-science that is now the laughing stock of the scientific community.

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    What is The Up Side of Down about?

    The Up Side of Down presents the case for failure as a valuable part of our growth process, and something that we should embrace. In addition, the book offers sound advice for how we, as individuals and as a society, can better manage and mitigate failure.

    The Up Side of Down Review

    The Up Side of Down (2014) by Megan McArdle is a thought-provoking exploration of failure and its essential role in personal and societal growth. Here's why this book is worth reading:

    • It offers insightful analysis and case studies, uncovering the hidden benefits of failure and how it can lead to valuable lessons and innovation.
    • Through engaging storytelling and anecdotal evidence, the book presents a refreshing perspective on failure, challenging conventional wisdom and encouraging resilience.
    • The author's well-researched arguments and practical advice provide readers with a toolkit to embrace failure and turn setbacks into opportunities for success.

    Best quote from The Up Side of Down

    Work begins when the fear of doing nothing exceeds the fear of doing badly. – Alain de Botton

    —Megan McArdle
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    Who should read The Up Side of Down?

    • Anyone who is currently job hunting
    • Anyone trying to develop their startup or creative endeavor
    • Anyone who wants to make a difference in the world

    About the Author

    Megan McArdle is a journalist whose writings on politics and economics have appeared in The Economist, Bloomberg View and The Atlantic. The Up Side of Down is her debut.

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    The Up Side of Down FAQs 

    What is the main message of The Up Side of Down?

    The main message of The Up Side of Down is that failure can be a valuable learning experience and a path to success.

    How long does it take to read The Up Side of Down?

    The reading time for The Up Side of Down varies depending on the reader's speed. However, the Blinkist summary can be read in just 15 minutes.

    Is The Up Side of Down a good book? Is it worth reading?

    The Up Side of Down is worth reading because it offers insightful perspectives on failure and success in a concise and engaging manner.

    Who is the author of The Up Side of Down?

    The author of The Up Side of Down is Megan McArdle.

    What to read after The Up Side of Down?

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