Author: Carol S. Dweck. She is “a pioneering researcher in the field of motivation, why people succeed (or don’t) and how to foster success.”
My opinion: This book deserves all the praise it gets. The growth mindset is an incredibly useful concept and the fact that she has science to back it up makes it that much more compelling.
Should You Read This Book?
If you have these challenges:
You are having trouble getting motivated, accomplishing things, believing in your abilities.
… then it might help you:
by giving practical ways you can stop judging yourself, including focusing on your effort instead of your results.
But you might not want to read it if:
You don’t want to reflect on how concepts apply to your life. The ideas she presents are easily understood but I think without close examination you might think you have the growth mindset when you don’t.
What I Got Out Of This Book
The Fixed Mindset Is Everywhere
After reading it I started being able to see each type of mindset creep up in friends’ and coworkers’ behavior. I now bristle at hearing “I can’t…” or “That’s not who I am..” or “That’s just who I am…”. Obviously some things can’t be changed, but these sorts of phrases are too often an automatic reaction to everyday struggles and disappointment. It’s extremely disheartening to see the fixed mindset block people from pursuing a path they would really love to pursue.
The goal is not as important as the process.
Yes, everyone wants the goal and everyone has to do the work, so on the surface it might see like mindset doesn’t factor in that much. But while the fixed mindset is constantly judging the current distance to the goal and judging themselves on it, the growth mindset is moving along and reaping rewards of all sizes from the growth they enjoy along the way. The same path that is a struggle to one person is an adventure to another.
A Few of My Favorite Lessons
Don’t define yourself by the results, define it by the effort you put in.
Don’t define success by the results, define it by the effort you put in.
Once you define success as putting in effort, you’ll start being more interested in learning and growing instead of being focused constantly on the goal.
A fixed mindset makes others judges. A growth mindset views them as potentially helpful allies.
Your qualities are not fixed. You can change.
Don’t praise the outcomes, praise the effort.
Look at challenges as an opportunity for growth instead of letting them define you. They can even excite you and you can seek them out for the rewards they provide.
Setbacks are motivating for the growth mindset. Those with the fixed mindset conclude “that’s who I am” when faced with setbacks.
The reason we revere prodigies over the person that spent countless hours to develop equal skill to the prodigy is because believing that “you have to be a prodigy” lets us off the hook of having to put in effort. And that we often look down on the equally good non-prodigy because it robs us of our excuses.
Cognitive therapy helps people make more realistic judgments but it does not take them out of the fixed mindset and the world of judgment.
It’s not that we have either a “growth” or “fixed” mindset. In different situations we might have one or the other. It’s important to identify what triggers you into the fixed mindset. She even suggests making the fixed-mindset into a persona and giving it a name so you can talk it down.
Some Meta For You
- Effort Required of you to get the most out of this book: Soul: 10%, Emotions: 40%, Mental: 50%, Physical: %.
- Topics Covered: Growth Mindset, Process not goal
- Qualifications of Author: Scientist, Expert, Coach
- Content Source: Author’s experience, Author’s research, Other’s research
- Content and Style
- Tone: Warm
- Writing Competency: Good
- Repetitiveness: Supportive redundancy
- Explanations: Good
- Organization: Good
- Anecdote level: Appropriate (10%)
- Convincingness of evidence: Good
- Annoyances: None.