Ambition: How We Manage Success And Failure Throughout Our Lives

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9780465091904: Ambition: How We Manage Success And Failure Throughout Our Lives

From birth to death, all humans strive for growth and mastery and all of us experience - and must learn to handle - success and failure. How do we do it? Indeed, how do we evaluate our successes and failures when others often withhold information from us? How do we explain to ourselves and to others the reasons for our triumphs and disasters? Most important, how do we learn to "manage" our ambitions and develop strategies for dealing with failure and what for some people is even more difficult: success? Does the pattern change as we age? These are important questions that all of us confront every day. Drawing on the latest psychological and social research and illustrating his argument with arresting real-life examples from every conceivable social setting - school, courtship and marriage, the workplace, sports and games, gambling, and more - the author shows how we adapt to winning and losing in ways that keep us at a level of "just-manageable difficulty", lowering our ambitions when we lose but raising them when we win. In revealing our strategies for handling success and failure, the book demonstrates that our capacity to change across our entire lives is much greater than we used to believe was true. In addition, Brim dispells the myth of the mid-life crisis, calling it more "a useful fiction" than a reality.

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About the Author:

Dr. Brim is the author and editor of a dozen books on human development. Currently, he is Director of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Midlife Development. His research and writing focuses on lifespan development, particularly on constancy and change in personality from childhood through old age.

From Kirkus Reviews:

Succinct and finely tuned thoughts on why happiness has little to do with money, youth, or even education, by the director of the MacArthur Foundation Research Network on Successful Mid-Life Development. Humans make themselves happy, Brim argues, by finding a ``way to live at the level of just manageable difficulty.'' He begins this clearsighted meditation on ``human nature and ambition'' with the example of his father, who left teaching at 60 and set his ``unyielding drive for growth and mastery'' on clearing hundreds of acres of wood. This contented man pursued this challenge until physical limitations stopped him; then he turned to a garden and, finally, a window box. Whatever scale the challenge, humans use ``the same operating energy.'' After successes or failures, we adjust. Not only can people change (``the course of human development is much more open than used to be believed''), but ``the true capacities of a person are often inherently unknowable.'' On the other hand, we may have more trouble abandoning goals than behavior, and we may misread the probabilities for a second chance. Such generalities come across here as convincing because they evolve from logical argument supported by psychological theory and by examples ranging from the musicians in second-tier orchestras dealing with their status to foundation directors frustrated because they can't get ``hard information'' about their success. What Brim plainly and most disturbingly sees is that this country does not support those losing ground in their careers. With economic troubles all around and fortunes gone sour overnight, Brim forsakes the quick fix for thoughtful observations about how we drive ourselves and measure results. -- Copyright ©1992, Kirkus Associates, LP. All rights reserved.

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Brim, Gilbert
Verlag: Basic Books (1992)
ISBN 10: 0465091903 ISBN 13: 9780465091904
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