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Publisher's Summary

The surest route to a happier, more productive life and future.
Most of us want to succeed. And most of us want to do the right thing. But we often forget that the way to succeed is by doing the right thing, as Barry Schwartz and Kenneth Sharpe remind us in Practical Wisdom: The Right Way to Do the Right Thing.
When the institutions that shape our society need to change, the people in them typically either make more rules or offer smarter incentives. But there is a better way, and in this lively and provocative book, Schwartz and Sharpe explore the essential principle of problem solving that can transform our lives: practical wisdom.
A concept that Aristotle identified millennia ago and that new scientific research reveals is as crucial today as it was in ancient Greece, practical wisdom is the essential human quality that combines the fruits of our individual experiences with our empathy and intellect. It's how we learn to be a good friend or parent or doctor or soldier or citizen or statesman. It's how we come to understand, as the authors write, "the right way to do the right thing in a particular circumstance, with a particular person, at a particular time."
In Practical Wisdom, Schwartz and Sharpe explain the importance of wisdom in our daily lives and explain how to combat work situations that squeeze it out of our practices. They introduce us to what they call the "canny outlaws", people with the wisdom to work around the calcified conventions of business as usual to achieve inspiring and satisfying results in daily life. And they identify System Changers, people who are building new, more rewarding, and ultimately more effective ways to work. The result is a book that helps us understand that wisdom is above all a practical idea.
©2010 Barry Schwartz (P)2010 SImon & Schuster
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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful
3 out of 5 stars
By Danny M. on 09-25-12


A great synopsis of doing good, doing well, and being a great professional, with plenty of examples from not only law, medicine, and education, but custodial work as well. Schwartz induces rage by relaying stories of how strict adherence to rules blinds us to the wider, deeper knowledge of our experience and subconcious minds. An inspiring book...

However, this is a great example of why authors generally shouldn't narrate their own works: their own familiarity with the work caused them both to be lazy in their enunciations. Numerous times they trailed off, barely voicing crucial words, and I found myself hitting the "Go Back" button repeatedly and straining to hear a word that the author was probably hearing loudly in his head. Sharpe's voice especially is pretty drab.

Nonetheless, the content and flow made up for the performance.

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4 of 4 people found this review helpful

3 out of 5 stars
By Alison on 06-18-12

Good Book, Mediocre Performance

A decent review of the concept and execution of common sense. Also a look at what kills it and what cultivates it. No new or breakthrough information, but a good read nonetheless.

I would have preferred that it had been read by a professional narrator rather than the authors.

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3 of 3 people found this review helpful

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