Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

byCarol S. Dweck
Rating 6.5 /10 Readability
Read Time 7 hrs Readible On
Published: 2007Read: February 15, 2015Pages: 288
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by Juvoni Beckford@juvoni

The growth mindset is a simple yet powerful idea, understanding your capacity and opportunity to grow through consistent effort and learning. A critical concept to understand, yet I don't think it was deep enough to require a whole book. Dweck used some anecdotes and case studies to illustrate it's uses in business, school, relationships and parents and the theme was still repetitive. A growth mindset is contrasted with the fixed mindset, believing that your skills and knowledge are limited; you only have the tools and talents you're born with, which is a destructive and stagnant way to look at things. Dweck tried so hard to make the concept of "mindset" her own, which made her seem like a saleswoman with all the answers, looking to describe many successes as a result of the growth mindset. Mindset is a much broader concept, not owned by one person, a mindset is a habit of thought framed by your beliefs, you can have many, Dweck describes two of them. You can still benefit from this if you're someone who has trouble believing in their skills or grew up praised as being smart and find a lot of anxiety being surrounded by other smart people.

Motivations to Read

I was surprised to see Carol S. Dweck's attempt to market the idea of 'Mindset' as her own, when I've heard about it long before her. But I am thankful for her efforts to promote it to the mainstream and her missed to help unlock a growth mindset in many. A mindset is a habit of thought, a particular set of beliefs that shape how to view the world and respond to events in it. I look forward into reading about Carol's reach in the area.

3 Reasons to Read

  • Learn about the concept of mindset and the 'Growth' vs. 'Fixed' Mindset
  • Understand how a growth mindset can be applied to business, parenting, relationships and education.
  • Build confidence in your capacity to growth and learn.

Notable Quotes

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 passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives. - Carol S. Dweck

Becoming is better than being. - Carol S. Dweck

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. - Carol S. Dweck

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. Their commitment is to growth, and growth take plenty of time, effort, and mutual support. - Carol S. Dweck

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success Notes & Summary


One of the core questions Carol had that lead her curiosity into this area was understanding how do people cope with failures.

Fixed MindsetGrowth Mindset
Believesintelligence is staticintelligence can be developed
Challengesavoid challengesembrace challenges
Obstaclesget defensive or give uppersist in the face of setbacks
Effortsee effort as fruitless or worsesee effort as the path to mastery
Criticismignore useful negative feedbacklearn from criticism
Success of othersfeel threatened by the success of othersfind the lessons and inspiration in the success of others
As a resultthey may plateau early and achieve less than their full potentialthey reach even-higher levels of achievement

Nature v.s Nurture; genes require input from the environment to work properly.

The Growth Mindset: Based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.

When you make the switch from believing that your qualities are carved in stone, to being flexible and can grow with effort and experience, you open new potentials for your life.

"I believe ability can get you to the top," says coach John Wooden, "but it takes character to keep you there.... It's so easy to ... begin thinking you can just 'turn it on' automatically, without proper preparation. It takes real character to keep working as hard or even harder once you're there. When you read about an athlete or team that wins over and over and over, remind yourself, 'More than ability, they have character.' "

In his book Extraordinary Minds, Howard Gardner concluded that exceptional individuals have "a special talent for identifying their own strengths and weaknesses."

Some Questions to test your mindset:

  1. Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you can't change very much.
  2. You can learn new things, but you can't really change how intelligent you are.
  3. No matter how much intelligence you have, you can always change quite a bit.
  4. You can always substantially change how intelligent you are.

Fixed Mindset: 1, 2

Growth Mindset: 3, 4

LOVE this quote!

"I don't divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures... I divide the world into the learners and non-learners. - Benjamin Barber

A fixed mindset can transform someone into a non-learner.

"They become afraid of not being smart." So they stop challenges themselves as they become afraid of the mistakes they would make.

A fixed mindset can have an over focus on success, and stick to things they know they can succeed at. While a growth mindset would lead one to take more risks and stretch themselves to become smarter.

Learning is a priority for someone with a growth mindset.

People with a growth mindset seek and thrive when presented with challenges.

"People with a fixed mindset expect ability to show up on it's own, before any learning takes place."

Those with a fixed mindset falsely assume that they test scores define who they are, how smart they are and who they will become in the future. It's why every success is so important to them.

"People who believe in fixed traits feel an urgency to succeed, and when they do, they feel more than pride. They may feel a sense of superiority, since success means that their fixed traits are better than other people's."

"In the fixed mindset,[..], the lose of one's self to failure can be a permanent, haunting trauma."

Instead of learning from their mistakes, people with fixed mindset may just try to repair their self-esteem.

Some ways they do this is by looking for people who are worse then they are or by assigning blame or making excuses.

Students with a fixed mindset show a higher level of depression compared to students with a growth mindset.

Still, students with a growth mindset went through turbulent periods and bouts of depression, the difference is that when things got worse, the more determined they became to improve their situation.

Even if a person is very smart and talented, with a fixed mindset, it seems to rob them of their coping resources during high stress situations.

"In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome.[..] The growth mindset allows people to value what they're doing regardless of the outcome."

"The growth mindset also doesn't mean everything that can be changed should be changed. We all need to accept some of our imperfections, especially the ones that don't really harm our lives or the lives of others."

The growth mindset is just a starting point for change.

"The fixed mindset limits achievement. It fills people's minds with interfering thoughts, it makes effort disagreeable, and it leads to inferior learning strategies."

A lot of people think that they can't draw for example. This is a very common fixed mindset belief; believe you were not "born" with drawing ability.

Drawing is learning to see.

What is success?(Sports)

Finding #1: "Those with the growth mindset found success in doing their best, in learning and improving. And this exactly what we find in the champions."

Finding #2: "Those with the growth mindset found setbacks motivating. They're informative. They're a wake-up call."

Finding #3: "People with the growth mindset in sports (as in pre-med chemistry) took charge of the processes that bring success - and that maintain it."

Fixed mindsets create groupthink.

"Leaders, to bolster their ego, suppress dissent. Or workers, seeking validation from leaders, fall into line behind them."

Be in a growth mindset when making important decisions.

How to create an environment that supports a growth-mindset

  • Present skills as learnable
  • Conveying that the organization values learning and perseverance, not just ready-made genius or talent
  • Giving feedback in a way that promotes learning and future success.
  • Presenting managers as resources for learning.

Relationships and a fixed mindset lead to three things:

  1. The belief that your qualities are fixed.
  2. Your partner's qualities are fixed.
  3. The relationship's qualities are fixed.

If you have a fixed mindset going into a relationship, you look for the perfect match, and fantasize everything will work out with no issues.

This leads to two problematic beliefs.

  1. If you have to work at it, It wasn't meant to be. Looking for the Cinderella story. Thinks that your partner should know what you think, feel, and need with little communication. Thinks that you should agree on everything.

"A no-effort relationship is a doomed relationship, not a great relationship. It takes work to communicate accurately and it takes work to expose and resolve conflicting hopes and beliefs. It doesn't mean that there is no "they lived happily ever after," but it's more like 'they worked happily ever after.'"

  1. Problems Indicate Character Flaws

"Sometimes people with a fixed mindset blind themselves to problems in the partner or the relationship so they won't have to go that route."

Good point when looking at it from a growth-mindset

"The belief that partners have the potential for change should not be confused with the belief that the partner will change."

Growing Your mindset in relationships

  • "After a rejection, do you feel judged, bitter, and vengeful? [..] Get in touch with all the feelings, and see if you can view it from a growth mindset. What did you learn from it?"
  • "In every relationship, issues arise.[..] Problems can be a vehicle for developing greater understanding and intimacy."
  • "Move beyond thinking about fault and blame all the time."
  • Remember that social skills are things you can improve at.

Be careful of praise that solely focuses on a child's intelligence or talent. Give growth oriented praise that highlights the accomplishments they have made through practice, study, persistence, and good strategies.

"After seven experiments with hundreds of children, we had some of the clearest findings I've ever seen: Praising children's intelligence harms their motivation and it harms their performance. How can that be? Don't children love to be praised? Yes, children love praise. And they especially love to be praised for their intelligence and talent. It really does give them a boost, a special glow-but only for the moment. The minute they hit a snag, their confidence goes out the window and their motivation hits rock bottom. If success means they're smart, then failure means they're dumb. That's the fixed mindset."

Parents should be mindful that every word and action sends a deep message to their child(ren) and they should not portray the belief that their child has permanent traits, but promote that they are interested and invested in their development.

"Simply learning about the growth mindset seems to mobilize people for meeting challenges and persevering."

"Many people with the fixed mindset think the world needs to change, not them.[..] The world should recognize their special qualities and treat them accordingly."

posted May 15, 2016

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