Mindset is a bestseller book from famous psychologist Carol S. Dweck that is talking about two mindsets, a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Fixed mindset is based upon believing in natural talents for whom success come easily and believing that talents and traits are a fixed thing. Fixed mindset people tend to prove them self all the time that they are the best, they think that success is about being more gifted than others, that failure does measure you and that effort is for those who can’t make it on talent.
The growth mindset is based upon the fact that in order to succeed one need to work hard, try, persist and grow its ability and that pretty much all things important in life can be learned, practiced and be perfected.
To me fixed vs growth mindset is very similar to the dilemma nature vs nurture. As far as I remember in the dilemma nature vs. nurture the final verdict is that both are important and for the best results it’s necessary to have talent and additionally to work a lot. However, in this book author takes us on the journey with lots of examples from business, sports etc. to show to us that the mindset is very important in life and of course that it is necessary to nurture the growth mindset and abandon fixed mindset in order to be happy, have success and grow in life. The book applies knowledge about the two mindsets to managing employees, relationships with spouse or other people, to raising children, personal growth and many more.
The book can be found and bought here.
About the book
In this section I will briefly describe some ideas from the book that impacted me the most. In the beginning of the book the two opposing mindsets are described. The fixed mindset says that either you have ability or you expend effort hence the effort is for those who don’t have the ability. For people with growth mindset even geniuses have to work hard to achieve something.
Then there is the interesting part where author explains why is effort so terrifying for some people. It’s because with effort you can’t have excuses anymore, and without effort you can always say “I could have been XYZ, but once you try, you can’t use excuses that anymore!
The author emphasizes that these examples of fixed and growth mindsets are extreme cases. Since nothing in life is black or white it is actually highly likely for someone to have elements of both mindsets. Also, it is possible to have different mindsets in different areas of life. It is also important to stress out that people that have better background i.e. they are rich, educated and well connected, their effort works better, but still they need it a lot. Unfortunately, people with fewer resources in spite of making huge effort can be derailed from the track more easily!
People with growth mindset value what they are doing regardless of the outcome (they win or lose), and this is because they are tackling problems, trying new courses and working on issues that matter. Another important concept discussed in the book is constructive criticism which a growth mindset likes while a fixed mindset is afraid of. It is very important to allow constructive criticism in life to have feedback for improving yourself, still many people are afraid of it since they think it attacks their ego,. People don’t like to hear bad news or get criticism, people like to believe they are as good as everyone says and not take their weaknesses as seriously as they might which fogs their view about where they really are. In order to become better, first you need to be aware of your current situation.
There is a very interesting part of the book where the author says that just because some people can do something with little or no training (the so called naturals), it doesn’t mean that others can’t do it (and sometimes do it even better) with training. She gives an example with drawing for which many people think that you either have the talent or not, but she proved that with proper training everyone can draw quite well.
Another interesting part of the book talks about raising children where it is very important to praise the ability and not talent/intelligence. The author showed research data that proved that praising children talent actually decreased their performance. Praising talent or intelligence makes their confidence and motivation more fragile. Instead you should focus your praise on the processes they use, their strategies, effort, or choices. So when your child finishes some math or similar problem quickly and perfectly you should actually praise the effort but resist the urge to praise intelligence and say that that was obviously too easy, let’s try something you can really learn from. On the other hand when children are bad at something they still need honest and constructive feedback since if they’re protected from it they can’t grow. When talking with children you shouldn’t encourage your kids and ask them who they have beaten and how they won at something, instead you should ask what did they learn today, what mistakes made them learn something and what did they try hard today.
Regarding managing misbehavior in children there is research that says that normal young children misbehave every three minutes, but abusive parents don’t understand this and they judge the children as disobedient or bad for crying. When disciplining your children always ask yourself what is the message you are sending, is it judging and punishing or helping them to think and learn.
Then there are parts of the book about leadership and management where there are several examples of larger-than-life, charismatic types who oozed ego and self-proclaimed talent who had initial success but eventually failed big as managers. And there are also examples of managers with growth mindset, people who constantly asked questions and had the ability to confront the most brutal answers, while maintaining faith that they would succeed in the end. These kind of people surrounded themselves with the most able people they can find, they look squarely at their own mistakes and deficiencies, and they ask frankly what skills they and the company will need in the future. These people assured long-term growth and profitability of the companies they managed.
Another part of the book talks about relationships since when you fail in business it’s very hard to blame someone else, but when something goes wrong in the relationship it’s very easy to blame your partner. Also, in the fixed mindset you either blame your permanent qualities or your partner’s which is a problem hard to solve. The growth mindset allows people to give up the blame and move on i.e. to grow. Author describes marriage in one simple but powerful sentence: “The whole point of marriage is to encourage your partner’s development and have them encourage yours.”
There is also one very interesting claim that your best friend is not the one which will stay by you in times of need but also the one with whom you can celebrate your successes. It’s because ego-wise it’s easy to sympathize with someone in need, but your success can be a problem for people that derive their self-esteem from being superior.
There is a decent part of the book about teachers and teaching other with few good examples. The author says that great teachers believe in the growth of the intellect and talent, and they are fascinated with the process of learning. Fixed mindset beliefs are the ones people are not typically conscious of, but they often paralyze people so discovering these beliefs and learning how to change these beliefs is very important and actually this is the basis of cognitive therapy. Replacing fixed beliefs and mindset with growth one is not easy, it’s not easy to just let go of something that has felt like your “self” for many years and gave you self-esteem. Especially due to the fact that you need to replace it with the mindset that tells you to embrace challenge, struggle, criticism and setbacks but still this is crucial to be able to become a better version of yourself.
Good quotes and excerpts from the book:
Many growth-minded people didn’t even plan to go to the top. They got there as a result of doing what they love. It’s ironic: The top is where the fixed-mindset people hunger to be, but it’s where many growth-minded people arrive as a by-product of their enthusiasm for what they do.
Next time you’re tempted to surround yourself with worshipers, go to church. In the rest of your life, seek constructive criticism.
In sports: after every game or practice, if you walk off the field knowing that you gave everything you had, you will always be a winner.
Michael Jordan: “I’ve missed more than nine thousand shots. I’ve lost almost three hundred games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot, and missed.”
There is a French expression: “Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner.” To understand all is to forgive all.
Conventional wisdom says that you know who your friends are in your times of need. And of course this view has merit. However, sometimes an even tougher question is: Who can you turn to when good things happen?
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.
Success is not coming to you, you must come to it.” “There are no shortcuts.” “There is no magic here
“Did I win? Did I lose? Those are the wrong questions. The correct question is: Did I make my best effort?” If so, he says, “You may be outscored but you will never lose.”
Beware of success. It can knock you into a fixed mindset: “I won because I have talent. Therefore, I will keep winning.” Success can infect a team or it can infect an individual.
To conclude I would highly recommend this book, some concept of the book were known to me, but still I have learned some new concepts. I agree with most of the positions in the book since I also think that success in life is 5% talent and 95% hard work. Although the book is a bit longer with almost 300 pages, I would still really recommend reading through it all. This book gives many valuable information about the fixed and growth mindset that can help you in your personal life but also when teaching or being taught, when managing or being managed, when raising children and when trying to grow and accomplish something. This book is useful to pretty much anyone but it is also very useful to entrepreneurs since in order to grow their business they basically must have a growth mindset to be able to properly lead and manage both themselves and their people. For any suggestions, comments and questions please contact me via nikola@simpleIoT.eu.