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Sarah Lewis: near win is so significant for long-term success

Over the years, it is said that leaders as well as motivational speakers have been sharing great ideas and capturing the human imagination. No doubt, every speaker has in one way or another influenced us to visualize a better future. But there are some speakers who have entirely change the way we see the world. These are the ones who have inspired us the most.

Sarah Lewis: embrace the near win

When you don’t perfectly complete a project, it can feel as though you have failed. However, near wins are crucial in motivating us to attain a goal as best we can. In this respect, near wins are almost more significant than actual wins, as they set in motion a constant pursuit of improvement. In her TED Talk “Embrace the Near Win,” art historian Sarah Lewis delves into the concept of the near win and how it is instrumental to attaining success. Sarah begins her talk discussing her first job at the MoMA, in which she worked on a retrospective of the painter Elizabeth Murray. When Lewis asked Murray what she thought of her early paintings from the 1970s, Murray revealed that a few were not up to her standards, and that she had even thrown one painting the trash. A neighbor of hers noticed it in the garbage and salvaged it, recognizing its value.

This example illustrates our tendency to only see the flaws in our own work, despite its probable value. Many of us are perfectionists, who struggle to promote or accept our own work unless it has achieved complete success in our eyes. Yet, as Sarah Lewis notes, “we thrive not when we’ve done it all, but when we still have more to do.” At work, and in life in general, making small mistakes often inspires us to try harder, to do even better the next time. The near win puts our goals into clearer view, as we become very close to them and see what we need to do to achieve them. In this sense, the process of striving for success is much more significant than the achievement of success itself. So the next time you do an almost-perfect job on something, don’t be disappointed; it will probably be the reason you achieve even greater success the next time around.

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