“Mindset: The New Psychology of Success”, Carol Dweck
322 pages – Paperback | eBook | Audiobook
TYPE: Non-fiction (science, philosophy), practical.
SYNTHESIS: A research-grounded dive into the self-fulfilling nature and impact of Fixed- and Growth-Mindset beliefs in personal development, by social and developmental psychology professor, Carol Dweck.
IN A NUTSHELL: “When you enter a mindset, you enter a new world. In one world – the world of fixed traits – success is about proving you’re smart or talented. Validating yourself. In the other – the world of changing qualities – it’s about stretching yourself to learn something new. Developing yourself.
In one world, failure is about having a setback. Getting a bad grade. Losing a tournament. Getting fired. Getting rejected. It means you’re not smart or talented. In the other world, failure is about not growing. Not reaching for things you value. It means you’re not fulfilling your potential.
In one world, effort is a bad thing. It, like failure, means you’re not smart or talented. If you were, you wouldn’t need effort. In the other world, effort is what makes you smart or talented.
You have a choice. Mindsets are just beliefs. They’re powerful beliefs, but they’re just something in your mind, and you can change your mind.”
NOTE: The secret to fulfilling your potential is changing your mindset. Specifically, it’s in moving from a Fixed-Mindset to a Growth-Mindset, where:
- A Fixed-Mindset is the belief that abilities (from intelligence to creativity and athleticism) are innate and largely fixed; and
- A Growth-Mindset is the belief that abilities are highly trainable and developed through effort and failure.
In reality, where you stand on the Fixed – Growth Spectrum depends on at least two factors:
- The Task – E.g., you may have a Growth-Mindset toward physical strength but a fixed mindset toward musical or mathematical ability; and
- The Actor – I.e., you may believe others are more changeable than yourself or be prejudiced by e.g., sex, colour or age.
In Mindset, Dweck argues compellingly that the best outcomes come from assuming a generous Growth-Mindset towards everything and everyone.
And yet, thanks to outdated science and practice, we often assume quite the opposite – with life-altering consequences for ourselves and the people around us.
Why is the shift so important? Because believing abilities are fixed makes every failure a painful reminder of our unconquerable inadequacy. The result? Fixed-Mindsets devastate progress. Not only do people with Fixed-Mindsets avoid taking risks, they also give up more easily on themselves, and on others – at play, at work, at school and at home.
But when we believe that traits and abilities are trainable, that we can always change and improve, we totally change our approach. Defeats become learning opportunities. Set-backs set boundaries we can test, push and improve. A Growth-Mindset doesn’t just make growing possible, it makes failure exciting.
Most critical of all is realising that our mindsets affect everyone around us – in how we learn, how we teach, how we judge and even how we love.
For example, praising children or employees for their intelligence (an innate quality) instead of their persistence and grit (qualities that promote growth) fosters Fixed Mindsets that severely limit their ability to grow. The same goes for praising athletes and musicians for their gift. Or for the expectations we set for ourselves and our loved-ones at home.
In exploring the themes above, Dweck’s Mindset maps out decades of thought-provoking research over 8 chapters where:
- Chapters 1 – 3 set out the basic theory and supporting evidence;
- Chapters 4 – 7 tests theory and practice in sports, business, relationships and teaching; and
- Chapter 8 explores the paths to changing mindsets in yourself and others.
The good news? Your mindset – whatever the task, whoever the actor – is just a belief.
Mindset is a habit you can change.