Book Notes #88: Mindset by Carol Dweck

Mindset by Carol Dweck reveals how our beliefs shape our success. Embrace a growth mindset to unlock your full potential.

Title: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
Author: Carol Dweck
Year: 2006
Pages: 320

In Mindset, renowned psychologist Carol Dweck takes readers on a transformative journey into the psychology of success and achievement. 

This insightful book unveils the profound impact of our mindset—the belief system we hold about our abilities—on our personal and professional lives. 

Dweck introduces two core mindsets: the fixed mindset, which sees abilities as innate and unchangeable, and the growth mindset, which embraces challenges, learns from failures, and believes in the power of effort and perseverance. 

Drawing from a wealth of research and real-life examples, Mindset offers readers a roadmap to cultivate a growth mindset, unlocking their full potential and embracing a life of continuous learning and achievement.

As a result, I gave this book a rating of 9.0/10.

For me, a book with a note 10 is one I consider reading again every year. Among the books I rank with 10, for example, is Dale Carnegie’s How to Win Friends and Influence People.

3 Reasons to read Mindset

1. Unlock Your Potential: The book empowers readers to tap into their full potential by adopting a growth mindset. By understanding the power of beliefs and effort, you can break through limitations and achieve personal and professional growth.

2. Transform Your Approach to Challenges: The book offers insights into how to approach challenges and setbacks with resilience and a positive outlook. It equips you with the tools to embrace challenges as opportunities for learning and growth.

3. Enhance Your Relationships: The book highlights how mindset affects relationships, parenting, and leadership. Reading this book can improve your communication, leadership skills, and overall well-being.

Book Overview

The book explores the concept of mindset—the beliefs we hold about our abilities—and its profound influence on our lives. Carol Dweck introduces two primary mindsets:

Fixed Mindset: Individuals with a fixed mindset believe that their abilities are inherent and unchangeable. They often avoid challenges, fear failure, and view effort as fruitless.

Growth Mindset: Those with a growth mindset see abilities as developable through dedication and effort. They embrace challenges, persevere through setbacks, and view failures as opportunities for growth.

Carol Dweck delves into the implications of these mindsets on various aspects of life, including education, relationships, and professional success.

The book illustrates these mindsets through real-life stories. One striking example is the story of Olympic gold medalist Michael Phelps. Despite his incredible talent, Phelps’ relentless work ethic and resilience exemplify a growth mindset. His journey from setbacks to success showcases how embracing challenges and effort can lead to greatness.

Another case is that of Enron’s downfall. Dweck demonstrates how Enron’s fixed mindset culture, driven by a focus on innate talent over effort, contributed to its catastrophic failure. In contrast, companies like Intel thrived by fostering a growth mindset environment that valued continuous learning and innovation.

The book delves into the realm of education, highlighting the impact of mindsets on students’ achievement. The book reveals how praising effort and persistence, rather than innate intelligence, can motivate students to excel. The story of a struggling student named Jamie illustrates how a shift in mindset can transform academic performance.

In the world of sports, the book explores the mindset of legendary coach John Wooden. Wooden’s emphasis on personal development and growth, rather than just winning, cultivated a growth mindset in his players, leading to unparalleled success for the UCLA basketball team.

She provides practical strategies for cultivating a growth mindset and shifting from a fixed to a growth-oriented perspective.

What are the Key Ideas

Fixed vs. Growth Mindset: Dweck introduces the concept of two mindsets—the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. The fixed mindset believes abilities are innate and unchangeable, while the growth mindset embraces the idea that abilities can be developed through effort and learning.

The Power of Beliefs: The book emphasizes that our beliefs about our abilities profoundly influence our behaviour and outcomes. Those with a growth mindset tend to achieve more because they believe in the potential for improvement.

Embracing Challenges: Individuals with a growth mindset welcome challenges as opportunities for learning and growth. They see effort as a path to mastery and are less discouraged by setbacks.

Learning from Failure: Carol Dweck discusses the importance of changing our perspective on failure. Instead of viewing it as a sign of inadequacy, a growth mindset sees failure as a chance to learn, adapt, and improve.

Cultivating a Growth Mindset: The book provides practical strategies for developing and nurturing a growth mindset, including changing our self-talk, seeking out challenges, and surrounding ourselves with those who support and encourage growth.

What are the Main Lessons

Embrace Challenges: Adopt a growth mindset by actively seeking out challenges in your life and career. See them as opportunities to develop new skills and grow, rather than as obstacles to avoid.

Learn from Failure: Change your perspective on failure. Instead of fearing it, view it as a valuable teacher. Analyse what went wrong, learn from your mistakes, and use failure as a stepping stone to success.

Effort Matters: Understand that consistent effort and hard work are essential for achievement. Value the process of learning and improvement, and believe that your effort will lead to mastery.

Foster a Growth Environment: Surround yourself with individuals who support your growth and share a growth mindset. Collaborate with those who encourage you to learn and develop.

Shift Your Self-Talk: Pay attention to your inner dialogue and self-beliefs. Replace self-limiting thoughts with growth-oriented affirmations. Continually challenge and change the way you talk to yourself to reinforce a growth mindset.

My Book Highlights & Quotes

The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you live your life

This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others. Although people may differ in every which way – in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments – everyone can change and grow through application and experience

You can see how the belief that cherished qualities can be developed creates a passion for learning. 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

In one world, effort is a bad thing. It, like failure, means you’re not smart or talented. If you were, you wouldn’t need effort. In the other world, effort is what makes you smart or talented

People in a growth mindset don’t just seek challenge, they thrive on it. The bigger the challenge, the more they stretch

When do people with the fixed mindset thrive? When things are safely within their grasp. If things get too challenging – when they’re not feeling smart or talented – they lose interest

In the growth mindset, it’s almost inconceivable to want something badly, to think you have a chance to achieve it, and then do nothing about it

People are all born with a love of learning, but the fixed mindset can undo it. Think of a time when you were enjoying something – doing a crossword puzzle, playing a sport, learning a new dance. Then it became hard and you wanted out. Maybe you suddenly felt tired, dizzy, bored, or hungry. Next time this happens, don’t fool yourself. It’s the fixed mindset. Put yourself in a growth mindset. Picture your brain forming new connections as you meet the challenge and learn. Keep on going

The students with growth mindset completely took charge of their learning and motivation. Instead of plunging into unthinking memorization of the course material, they said: “I looked for themes and underlying principles across lectures,” and “I went over mistakes until I was certain I understood them.” They were studying to learn, not just to ace the test. And, actually, this was why they got higher grades – not because they were smarter or had a better background in science

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. This is so important, because many, many people with the fixed mindset think that someone’s early performance tells you all you need to know about their talent and their future

Do you label your kids? This one is the artist and that one is the scientist. Next time, remember that you’re not helping them – even though you may be praising them … Find a growth-mindset way to compliment them

Those with the growth mindset found setbacks motivating. They’re informative. They’re a wake-up call

If the wrong kinds of praise lead kids down the path of entitlement, dependence, and fragility, maybe the right kinds of praise can lead them down the path of hard work and greater hardiness

When students don’t know how to do something and others do, the gap seems unbridgeable. Some educators try to reassure their students that they’re fine just as they are. Growth-minded teachers tell students the truth and then give them the tools to close the gap

So, are great teachers born or made? … It starts with the growth mindset – about yourself and about children. Not just lip service to the idea that all children can learn, but a deep desire to reach in and ignite the mind of every child

A growth mindset is about believing people can develop their abilities. It’s that simple

Let’s be totally clear here. We as educators must take seriously our responsibility to create growth-mindset-friendly environments – where kids feel safe from judgment, where they understand that we believe in their potential to grow, and where they know that we are totally dedicated to collaborating with them on their learning. We are in the business of helping kids thrive, not finding reasons why they can’t

It’s the parents who respond to their children’s setbacks with interest and treat them as opportunities for learning who are transmitting a grth mindset to their children. These parents think setbacks are good things that should be embraced, and that setbacks should be used as a platform for learning

People with a growth mindset are also constantly monitoring what’s going on, but their internal monologue is not about judging themselves and others in this way. Certainly they’re sensitive to positive and negative information, but they’re attuned to its implications for learning and constructive action: What can I learn from this? How can I improve? How can I help my partner do this better?

Instead of being held captive by some intimidating fantasy about the Great Writer, the Great Athlete, or the Great Genius, the growth mindset gave them the courage to embrace their own goals and dreams. And more important, it gave them a way to work toward making them real

Mindset change is not about picking up a few pointers here and there. It’s about seeing things in a new way. When people – couples, coaches and athletes, managers and workers, parents and children, teachers and students – 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 takes plenty of time, effort, and mutual support to achieve and maintain

You can look back and say, “I could have been …,” polishing your unused endowments like trophies. Or you can look back and say, “I gave my all for the things I valued.” Think about what you want to look back and say. Then choose your mindset

Actually, sometimes you plunge into something because you’re not good at it. This is a wonderful feature of the growth mindset. You don’t have to think you’re already great at something to want to do it and to enjoy doing it

Parents think they can hand children permanent confidence – like a gift – by praising their brains and talent. It doesn’t work, and in fact has the opposite effect. It makes children doubt themselves as soon as anything is hard or anything goes wrong. 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, seek new strategies, 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

One more thing about praise. When we say to children, “Wow, you did that so quickly!” or “Look, you didn’t make any mistakes!” what messages are we sending? We are telling them that what we prize are speed and perfection. Speed and perfection are the enemy of difficult learning: “If you think I’m smart when I’m fast and perfect, I’d better not take on anything challenging

Many educators think that lowering their standards will give students success experiences, boost their self-esteem, and raise their achievement. It comes from the same philosophy as the overpraising of students’ intelligence. Well, it doesn’t work. Lowering standards just leads to poorly educated students who feel entitled to easy work and lavish praise

The great teachers believe in the growth of the intellect and talent, and they are fascinated with the process of learning

Great teachers set high standards for all their students, not just the ones who are already achieving

We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary

Picture your brain forming new connections as you meet the challenge and learn. Keep on going

I don’t mind losing as long as I see improvement or I feel I’ve done as well as I possibly could

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

This is something I know for a fact: You have to work hardest for the things you love most

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

In conclusion, reading Carol Dweck’s book Mindset is a transformative journey into understanding the power of our beliefs and how they shape our success.

This book provides invaluable insights into the profound impact of adopting a growth mindset, which not only empowers us to embrace challenges, learn from failures, and persevere in the face of setbacks but also unlocks our true potential for continuous growth and achievement.

By reading Mindset, you equip yourself with the tools to cultivate a mindset that can positively influence every aspect of your life, from education and personal development to leadership and relationships.

It’s an essential read for anyone seeking personal and professional growth, offering a path to realizing your fullest potential.

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