book hack

The Rise

Sarah Lewis

5 mins

3 key insights

Visual, audio & text

The Rise explains the integral role of failure in all creative endeavors, and provides examples of great thinkers who thrived because they viewed failure as a necessary part of their journey towards mastery.


The Rise

The Rise

by Sarah Lewis


Entrepreneur Sara Blakely was conditioned from an early age to see failure as part of any learning process. Every night at the dinner table, Blakely's father would ask his children: 'What have you failed at today?' This way, he taught them to see failure, not as an outcome, but simply as the result of an attempt.

Just before the age of 29, after selling office equipment for seven years, Sara Blakely created Spanx. The girdle-redefining line of women's hosiery propelled Blakely to becoming one of the first self-made female billionaires.

In The Rise, Sarah Lewis explains that part of Blakely's success rests on what psychologists call the Dunning-Kruger effect. Amateurs more willingly take risks because their ignorance protects them from the fear of failure. In contrast, once proficient, we often see possible pitfalls and steer towards safety over innovation.

Trial and error, however, lead us to places we never imagined going. Then, once nature's most skilled teacher, adversity, comes in, the wheat separates from the chaff. For example, did you know the great orator, Martin Luther King Jr., overcame a childhood speech impediment? Or that Samuel Morse toiled as a painter before inventing the telegraph?

Favorite quote

I still remember the shudder when I sensed a knowing as sure as fact - that I might only truly become my fullest self if I explored and stayed open to moving through daunting terrain.

- Sarah Lewis

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