Mindset (2006) highlights the importance of adopting a ‘growth mindset’ and demonstrates how an individual’s mindset plays a crucial part in determining how well they do in practically any domain of life. The author, Dr. Carol Dweck is a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University.
- “Mindsets are just beliefs. They’re powerful beliefs, but they’re just something in your mind, and you can change your mind.”
- A growth mindset is the belief that you can develop your talents and abilities with effort, whilst a fixed mindset is the belief that your talents and abilities cannot be improved.
- “People in a growth mindset don’t just seek challenge, they thrive on it.”
- Mindset shift; “I can’t do this.” -> “I can’t do this YET.”
- “Becoming is better than being.”
Carol Dweck “Mindset” Summary
#1 The Two Mindsets
“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.”
A ‘Fixed Mindset’ is the belief that your basic abilities such as your intelligence, artistic talents or athletic abilities are fixed traits and that they cannot be improved.
On the other hand, Dr.Carol Dweck tells us that the’ Growth Mindset’ is based on the belief that your abilities are things you can cultivate and improve through effort.
Furthermore, she makes an important distinction which is that the two mindsets are not a dichotomy but a spectrum. No one individual has a completely fixed mindset and that their mindset can differ with regards to situation or context.
#2 Fixed & Growth Mindset Differences
“Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you?”
The author points out that people with fixed mindsets tend to complete tasks to prove how smart or talented they are. She adds: “Believing that your qualities are carved in stone—the fixed mindset—creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over.”
Here are a few points that highlight the differences between the two mindsets:
- “The fixed mindset makes you concerned with how you’ll be judged; the growth mindset makes you concerned with improving.”
- “For [those with a growth mindset] it’s not about immediate perfection. It’s about learning something over time: confronting a challenge and making progress.”
- “People with a growth mindset… believe something very different. For them, even geniuses have to work hard for their achievements.”
- “When people with the fixed mindset opt for success over growth, what are they really trying to prove? That they’re special. Even superior.”
- “The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset.”
- “People in a growth mindset don’t just seek challenge, they thrive on it.”
#3 The Athlete’s Mindset
“We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t really like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves ordinary.”
The athlete with the fixed mindset views success as winning at all costs. On the other hand, an athlete with the growth mindset views success as a by-product of continuous learning and improvement.
In the book, Dweck demonstrates the growth mindset tendency of 2 world-class athletes. First, the reader is introduced to Jackie Joyner Kersee, one of the all-time great athletes in the heptathlon and long jump. In an interview, when asked about her secret to success, she replies…
“There is something about seeing myself improve that motivates and excites me. It’s that way now after six Olympic medals and five world records. And it was the way I was in junior high, just starting to enter track meets.”
Dweck then writes about NBA legend Michael Jordan. She tells us how Jordan, upon being cut from his high school basketball team would wake up and start training before school started at 6 am. He would focus on his weaknesses, his defensive game and was one of the hardest working players in his team.
As a former assistant coach describing Jordan’s work ethic says that “he was a genius who constantly wants to upgrade his genius.” Dweck also points out that for Jordan, it was never a case of talent but rather his desire to improve which propelled him to the top of the sport.
#4 Mindsets: Business & Leadership
“Your failures and misfortunes don’t threaten other people… It’s your assets and your successes that are problems for people who derive their self-esteem from being superior.”
In Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Dweck points out that the mindset of the CEO is critical in determining the company’s success.
She adds that the CEO with a fixed mindset is more concerned about maintaining their image than the growth of the company. Through their lens, the employees who have the most innovative ideas are threats to his or her status. They live in a world where some are superior whilst others are inferior.
On the other hand, growth mindset leaders leave their personal desires aside and place the good of the company first. They are the ones who constantly ask questions and do not shy away from seeking the most brutal answers.
Furthermore, the author highlights the fact that great leaders are not born, but rather –are those who develop themselves through self-transformation and by their ability to learn from challenges.
#5 Mindsets & Relationships
“Choosing a partner is choosing a set of problems. There are no problem-free candidates.”
Our mindsets have a big impact on the relationships that we have whether it be with friends, or with our partner.
When it comes to relationships, Dweck tells us that people with fixed mindsets tend to believe that the ‘perfect relationship’ shouldn’t require too much work. As a result, they are more likely to cut ties at the slightest hint of tension and indifference.
In contrast, someone who is growth-oriented would view their partner and their relationship as a work in progress. As Dweck clarifies: “the whole point of marriage is to encourage your partner’s development and have them encourage yours.”
#6 Teaching Growth Mindset
“If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.”
A mother, who tells her daughter how talented she is because of an outstanding painting, may inadvertently prevent her daughter from painting anything else. Why? Because then, her daughter might fear that her next painting may not be as outstanding as her previous work.
Dweck tells us that praise can have adverse consequences. If a child is praised for their work done fast, then what does it mean if they do it slowly, are they no longer smart? Likewise, if a student is praised their whole life about how talented they are, then it becomes difficult for them to handle criticism.
She advises: “So what should we say when children complete a task—say, math problems—quickly and perfectly? Should we deny them the praise they have earned? Yes. When this happens, I say, “Whoops. I guess that was too easy. I apologize for wasting your time. Let’s do something you can really learn from!” ”
#7 Shift Your Mindset
“Mindset change is not about picking up a few pointers here and there. It’s about seeing things in a new way. When people… change to a growth mindset, they change from a judge-and-be-judged framework to a learn-and-help-learn framework.”
Here are some tips to help readers shift their mindset towards one of learning and growth…
- Believe in yourself, and in the fact that you can change.
- Don’t see abilities as something that needs to be proven, but see them as a starting point for your development.
- View effort not as something that casts doubts on your talent, but as a necessity for growth.
- Pursue any work or task not to prove how intelligent you are but for the sake of growth and learning.
- Choose the more difficult task over the easy one and challenge yourself all the time.
- Re-frame your self-talk; “I’m no good at this!” -> I’m not good at this yet.”
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