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Self-Renewal: The Individual and the Innovative Society Hardcover – 1 May 2012


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"This is the most exciting and significant book that I have read in years. The subject is the self-renewal of societies and of individuals-why do some atrophy and decay, while others remain innovative and creative? There is no more vital problem than this, especially for an era of constantly accelerating change such as the present." -- L. S. Stavrianos, Northwestern University --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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A noted social commentator, John W. Gardner was a former cabinet secretary and the founder of Common Cause. --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

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Every few years the archaeologists unearth another ancient civilization that flourished for a time and then died. Read the first page
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Amazon.com: 17 reviews
101 of 102 people found the following review helpful
Penetrating book on what makes you tick and how to keep on 3 Jan. 2000
By James L. Grubb - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
A deeply perceptive (short) paperback on the self-renewal of individuals and societies; why some decay and others remain innovative and creative. Now in his 90th year, Mr. Gardner continues to teach at Stanford. In clear, concise terms the author sets down the factors that produce deterioration in people and societies. He maintains they are caused mostly by failure to deal with change. The factors? He names five.
SELF-DEVELOPMENT. Not just skills, but the whole range of our own potentialities for sensing, wondering, learning, understanding and aspiring. Gardner points out that this does not happen until one gets over the odd notion that education is what goes on in school buildings and nowhere else.
SELF-KNOWLEDGE. By midlife we are accomplished fugitives from ourselves. Our lives are filled with diversions; our heads stuffed with knowledge; we are involved with people. Result: we've never taken time to probe our inner selves. We don't want to know ourselves. We don't want to depend upon ourselves. We can't stand to live with ourselves. A better way is to develop a more comfortable view of who you are. It is the true basis of inner strength.
COURAGE TO FAIL. By the time we reach middle age, we carry in our heads a long list of things we'll never try again because we tried once and failed. Mature people learn less because they are willing to risk less. There's no learning without difficulty and fumbling, but if you want to keep on learning, you must keep risking failure.
LOVE. Develop the ability to have mutually fruitful relations with others. Be capable of accepting love and giving it; of depending upon others and of being depended upon. Develop the ability to see life through another's eyes and reach out to others.
MOTIVATION. A self-renewing person is highly motivated. The author points out that motivation isn't a fuel that gets injected into your system (motivation speakers won't do it); it's partly inner energy and partly the result of the social forces in your life. Gardner makes the point that we live in an over-verbalized civilization. Words have become more real than the things they signify and we need to return to the solid earth of direct experience because we are drowning in meaningless word tonnage.
"For those who have accepted the reality of change, the need for endless learning and trying is a way of living, a way of thinking, a way of being awake and ready. "Life isn't a train ride where you choose your destination, pay your fare and settle back for a nap. "It's a cycle ride over uncertain terrain, with you in the driver's seat, constantly correcting your balance and determining the direction of progress. "It's dfficult, sometimes profoundly painful."
For those who are able to achieve self-renewal, Gardner believes they will also develop a more realistic survival view of the world: "Sensible people will understand that there will never be a time when we are not in imminent danger. Cruelty, violence, brutality will be held in leash only by unresting effort--if held in leash at all. "Sloth, indulgence, smugness, torpor begotten of ease and flabbiness begotten of security will always lurk in wait." No society will ever solve the issue of the individual versus the organization. "No society will ever discover how to become civilized without running the risk of becoming overcivilized."
This is a profoundly thoughtful, penetrating piece on what makes you tick. Well worth your time.
15 of 15 people found the following review helpful
Helpful Reflection Material 26 Jun. 2003
By Dr. W. G. Covington, Jr. - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
Two recurring themes of achievers are mentioned in the first few pages of this book, the importance of toughminded optimism and the power of persistence. It is in that spirit that Gardner develops his topic. With the inevitability of change, openness to new experience is vital to self-renewal he claims. Being active in intentional change leads to growth rather than change by default he explains. Knowing how to creatively interact with changes in the environment is a learned ability that can lead to the development of new potentialities Gardner writes.
This interactive process is experienced at the individual level also. Gardner describes healthy self-renewing people as those who both give and accept love. They depend on other people and are capable of having other people depend on them.
Passion is part of the self-renewed life. He says people of that bent know they must have conviction about what they are doing and if they don't, they need to find something they can have conviction about.
The principles he describes at the individual level have implications collectively as well. He goes on to state that "it is important that a society create an atmostphere that encourages effort, striving and vigorous performance" (p. 20). It is within social systems that individuals make their contributions. A lot of wise insight is provided in this book. He leaves the readers better off than when they picked up the book to read.
6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
Self-Renewal 4 April 2007
By Kimberley F. Richards - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
I purchased this book as a course requirement but will continue to use this as a renewal product to recharge the batteries. When you are feeling stagnant, this is a great book to read before you go out and try to change your world.
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
Best book I've read in at least 10 years 27 Jan. 2010
By ryn76 - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is NOT a self-help, pop psychology book.
This IS a profoundly eloquent, deeply perceptive, compelling set of antidotes to soundbites.
It is timeless. It puts forth pragmatic and resonant ways of navigating the complexities of dynamic change within the necessary stability of society.
Gardner's observations on innovation, creativity, motivation are quietly inspiring.
Please look at the Table of Contents to get a glimpse.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
Self-Renewal 25 Sept. 2008
By M. Lenington - Published on Amazon.com
Format: Paperback
This book has many important points that I am using in my graduate work. It was first written many years ago and the information and theories still apply today.
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