Mindset by Carol Dweck is a psychological examination of two different mindsets; the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. She discusses how these come into play and how they effect our lives. Deck's book goes into detail about how mindsets can be applied to all areas of life from schooling, work, relationships and parenting. At the end of each chapter, Dweck has leading questions and tips on how you can grow your own mindset. A must-read for anyone looking to expand themselves, grow and learn.
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Who is this book for?
This book has changed millions of lives. Mindset reveals how great parents, teachers, managers, and athletes can foster outstanding accomplishment. This is a book for individuals who want to get past their fixed mindset and change towards a growth mindset, but it also applies to cultures of groups and organisations that want to thrive and produce emerging leaders.
About the author
Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D. is one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation, and is a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. Her research has focused on why people succeed and how to foster success. She has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her work has been featured in such publications as The New Yorker, Time, The New York Times, and The Washington Post, and she has appeared on Today and 20/20.
In this summary
Mindset is a psychological examination of two different mindsets; the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. She discusses how these come into play and how they affect our lives. Dweck's book goes into detail about how mindsets can be applied to all areas of life, from schooling, work, sports and leadership. A must-read for anyone looking to expand themselves, grow and learn.
THE TWO MINDSETS
The Fixed Mindset
The fixed mindset is suggesting that your qualities and potential are carved in stone. Naturally, this mindset creates the urgency to prove you are ‘enough’ and compare yourself with others: “Will I succeed or fail?” “Will I be accepted or rejected?” “Will I feel like a winner or a loser?”
Success, in a sentence, is validating yourself. However, proving yourself in every situation – in the classroom, in the career, in the relationship – is draining.
The Growth Mindset
In the growth mindset, your current traits are just the starting point for future development. We’re all different – in terms of talents, aptitudes, interests, or temperaments – but everyone can change and grow through effort and experience.
In this mindset, you can cultivate your basic qualities through your efforts, and it’s impossible to foresee your true potential without years of passion, toil, and training.
The hallmark of the growth mindset? The endurance and passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) during the most challenging times in your life.
Why Your Mindset Matters
People with the fixed mindset believe strongly that: “If at first you don’t succeed, you probably don’t have the ability.”
The believers of the fixed mindset, consequently, don’t believe in effort, because it means you’re not smart or talented – if you were, you wouldn’t need to try. The fixed mindset can turn you into a non-learner. Failing – a bad grade, losing a tournament, getting fired, or getting rejected – is evil, too.
And, while the advocates of the fixed mindset distort, magnify, and explain away, before they even start learning themselves at all, their growth mindset counterparts are open to accurate information about their current abilities, even if it’s unflattering, because that’s the path towards growth.
In their world of changing qualities, success is stretching yourself to learn something new and developing yourself further every day. Failure means you’re not fulfilling your potential, which you can reach through effort. Effort, actually, is what makes you smart or talented.
Mindsets are just prisms to see your life through. They’re powerful beliefs, but they’re just in your mind. And you have a choice to change your mind. Whether you subscribe to the growth or the fixed mindset, or seek change in your prism of life, you will benefit from the closer examination in this book.
COMPARING THE TWO MINDSETS
The two mindsets start manifesting as soon as children become able to evaluate themselves, as early as at the age of four.
Even at this young age, when offered the choice, children with a fixed mindset opted to redo an easy jigsaw puzzle, versus the children with a growth mindset, who enthusiastically chose a hard one after another. Let’s compare the two mindsets and draw conclusions.
People with the fixed mindset want to make sure they succeed, because smart people should always succeed. Actually, you have to be pretty much flawless from the get-go.
For people with the growth mindset, success is about stretching themselves. It’s about becoming smarter.
People in a fixed mindset thrive when things are safely within their grasp. When things get too challenging, they lose interest, because they’re not feeling smart or talented.
People in a growth mindset thrive on challenges. The bigger the challenge, the bigger the stretch.
The fixed mindset advocates subscribe to the idea that you can test and measure your ability right now, and project it into the future to understand your potential.
Their growth mindset counterparts simply understand their potential as their capacity to develop their skills with effort over time. They don’t know where their effort and time will take them in the future.
The fixed mindset believers must succeed perfectly and immediately, because a potential failure means lack of competence and will define them as ‘The Person Who Didn’t Get To The X College’.
Even in the growth mindset, failure can be a painful experience, but it doesn’t define you; it’s an opportunity to take control, deal with the problem, and learn from it.
When failing, the fixed mindset people try to repair their self-esteem, looking for people who are worse off than they are, and assigning blame or making excuses.
For the people who believe their current qualities can be developed, failing still hurts, but it also signals that their abilities can be expanded. They recognise that failure is the path to success.
From the point of view of the fixed mindset, effort is only for people with deficiencies. From their point of view, if you’re considered a genius, a talent, or a natural, then effort can reduce you for two reasons:
- Great geniuses are not supposed to need effort – just needing it speaks volumes about your (in)ability.
- Effort robs you of all your excuses – without effort, you can always say, “I could have been XXXX.” But once you try, you can’t say that anymore.
In the growth mindset, doing nothing about something you want badly is almost inconceivable. From this perspective, you can look back and say “I gave my all for the things I valued.”
The fixed mindset limits achievement. People’s minds are interfered with thoughts & doubts about their efforts, which leads to inferior learning. It also turns other people into judges instead of allies.
In growth mindset, important achievements require a clear focus, all-out effort, and countless strategies to test and implement. Plus, people are allies, aiding the journey towards learning and improving.
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Conclusion (Or ‘Is Artistic Ability A Gift?’)
As the author perfectly puts it:
“Just because some people can do something with little or no training, it doesn’t mean that others can’t do it (and sometimes do it even better) with training.”
Can anyone do anything? We don’t know. However, someone’s early performance doesn’t tell you all you need to know about their future, as the fixed mindset people tend to believe.
MINDSET OF A CHAMPION
It’s what makes you practise daily and what allows you to get up when you fall. People with the growth mindset understand that they don’t succeed because they’re special people, born with the right to win. This would be entitlement, a concept often connected with the fixed mindset. Instead, people with character:
- Work hard
- Find setbacks motivating
- Learn how to keep their focus under pressure
- Succeed by doing their best, learning, and improving
- Stretch beyond their ordinary abilities, when they have to
People with the growth mindset are the ones who show the most character or heart, and hold the mindset of a champion. As the author states in the book:
MINDSET & LEADERSHIP
One of the most important reasons why some companies go from good to great is having a leader who can guide the company into greatness. But don’t rush into the conclusion that we’re talking about the charismatic, larger-than-life type of leader we see in the movies.
Instead, the type of leader we’re talking about is constantly asking questions and doesn’t shy away from failures, while maintaining faith that the company will succeed in the end.
These effective leaders have the growth mindset. They believe in human (and corporate) development.
In comparison, fixed-mindset leaders live in a world where some people are superior (it’s usually them and the higher-ups) and some are inferior. The company is simply a platform for personal validation.
To top it up, leaders with a fixed mindset believe that “People have a fixed amount of management ability, and they cannot do much to change it.”
In contrast, those with a growth mindset believe that “People can always substantially change their basic skills for managing other people.”
For growth mindset leaders, having talent is nice, but that’s just the starting point. The important part is their employees’ development.
Usually, we see such leaders:
- Investing in their personnel's developmental coaching,
- Noticing the improvement in employees’ performance, and
- Welcoming critique from them.
The good news is: growth-mindset leadership can be taught.
“Create an organisation that prizes the development of ability - and watch the leaders emerge.”Click To Tweet
Once people decide to move from a fixed to a growth mindset, they experience setbacks and disappointments. Change is hard and sticking to a new mindset is not always easy.
But it’s the only way to break through the fantasy of the ‘Great Writer’ and ‘Genius Musician’, and embrace your own goals and dreams instead.
To change, however, they first need to identify the root of their fixed mindset. As the author highlights, usually the narrative plays out like this:
“At some point in their lives the fixed mindset served a good purpose for them. It told them who they were or who they wanted to be (a smart, talented child), and it told them how to be that (perform well). In this way, it provided a formula for self-esteem, and a path to love and respect from others.”
In other words, initially, it was a straightforward source for affirmation and love. However, over time the person might end up identifying completely with the fixed mindset traits.
Changing a mindset requires people to give up this source of self-esteem. It’s not easy to go from a safe place towards embracing all the things that have felt threatening: challenge, struggle, criticism, setbacks. After all, the fixed mindset controls most internal monologues and offers refuge from uncertainty and self-doubt.
Don’t buy that lie.
Growth-oriented scientists, artists, athletes, and CEOs are people in the full flower of their individuality and potency. You can be one, too.
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- The fixed mindset suggests that your qualities and potential are carved in stone, while the growth mindset advocates that your current traits are just the starting point for future development.
- Someone’s early performance doesn’t tell you all you need to know about their future.
- Ability and talent can get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there.
- Create an organisation that prizes the development of ability – and watch the leaders emerge.
- Opening up to growth will make you more of yourself, not less.
Liminal Thinking by Dave Gray is a great book that challenges the way you think and the way you see the world. Gray emphasises that we all have a choice in how we see and navigate the world, and the first step to success is to engage in liminal thinking and allow ourselves to explore new opportunities.
The Magic of Thinking Big contains the secrets to getting the most out of your job, your marriage and family life. The book illustrates how you don’t need to be incredibly intelligent or unique to have the success you want, you simply need to think in a way that cultivates success. By thinking big you can motivate yourself to improve your work life, earn more money and get more happiness and fulfilment out of life.
Atomic Habits by James Clear. This book reveals practical strategies that will teach you exactly how to form good habits, break bad ones, and master the tiny behaviors that lead to remarkable results.
Guidelines is my eBook that summarises the main lessons from 33 of the best-selling self-help books in one place. It is the ultimate book summary; Available as a 80-page ebook and 115-minute audio book. Guidelines lists 31 rules (or guidelines) that you should follow to improve your productivity, become a better leader, do better in business, improve your health, succeed in life and become a happier person.
- Go to mindsetonline.com and discover the book’s additional resources.
- Take this test to understand better which mindset you subscribe to.
- Take your own actions to change from a fixed to a growth mindset – and stay there for long-lasting growth and a fulfilling life.
- Download the complete book on Amazon.
This summary is not intended as a replacement for the original book and all quotes are credited to the above mentioned author and publisher.