Book Review of Mindset by Dr Carol Dweck

About Author:

Carol Dweck is widely regard as one of the world’s leading researchers in the fields of personality, social psychology and development psychology. Her scholarly book Self-Theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality and Development was named Book of the Year by the World Education Fellowship.

About Book:

This is one of the highly recommended books for teachers, coaches, parents and students. Theories are explained in Q&A format with lot of examples and real-life scenarios. Author explained mindsets in different contexts like effort, outcome, depression, achievement, artistic ability, bullying, anger etc.

Fixed mindset:

  • People have certain fixed amount of ability and they cannot do much to change it. But people hold on to fixed mindset for a reason. At some point in their lives, it served a good purpose for them.
  • CEO disease: Speaking of reigning from atop a pedestal and wanting to be seen as perfect, often called as CEO disease.
  • Here everything is about outcome. If you fail or you are not the best. It’s all been wasted.

Growth mindset:

  • 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.
  • People in growth mindset don’t just seek challenge, they thrive on it. The bigger the challenge, the more they stretch.
  • The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome.
  • People with this mindset didn’t even think they were failing. They thought they were learning.

Personal Stories:

Actor Christopher Reeve after thrown from a horse broke his neck and his spinal cord was severed from his brain. He was completely paralyzed below the neck. Medical science said, So sorry. Come to terms with it.

But Reeve wanted to move and demanded exercise program that involved moving all parts of his paralyzed body with the help of electronic stimulation. Doctors warned that he was in denial and setting himself for disappointment. Five years later, Reeve started to regain movement. He was far from cured. In doing so, he opened a whole new vista for research and whole new avenue of hope for people with spinal cord injuries.

Jack Welch of General Electronics who always believe in listening, crediting and nurturing. When he took over GE in 1980, the company was valued at $14B. Twenty years later, it was valued by Wall Street at $490B.

Stories of athletes like Michael Jordan, Muhammad Ali, Tiger Woods. Wilma Rudolph is similar. They all are genius who constantly wants to upgrade their genius.

There are stories of fixed mindset people as well like

Iacocca: I’m a Hero.

Albert Dunlap: I’m a superstar.

With these tags or labels leaders with fixed mindset always tried to prove their talent and didn’t accept any kind of criticism to change which ultimately cost not only their personal success but also thousands of lives related to them.

Danger of positive of negative labels:

Putting labels can lead to disastrous things for anyone. For example, if a child got 100% marks and we praise him/her like you are born talented and you deserve it. It actually takes away the desire to thrive and child can believe in personality rather than efforts. As it led to trusting people’s opinion.

Praise should deal, not with the people’s personality attributes, but with their efforts and achievements.

Some definitions:

Success: It is doing their best, in learning and improving.

Failure: Founding setbacks motivating. They’re informative. They’re wake up call.

In constructive criticism, constructive means helping the people to fix something, build a better product, of do a better job.

Cognitive Therapy: Cognitive therapy basically teaches people to rein in their extreme judgements and make them more reasonable.

Children pass on the messages:

Even young children are ready to pass on the wisdom they’ve learned. In one of the study author’s team asked second-grade children: “What advice would you give to a child in your class who was having trouble in Math?”

Here’s the advice from a child with the growth mindset:

Do you quit a lot? Do you think for a minute and then stop? If you do, you should think for a long time, two minutes maybe and if you can’t get it, you should read the problem again. If you can’t get it then, you should raise your hand and ask the teacher.

Isn’t that the greatest? The advice from children with fixed mindset was not nearly as useful. Since there’s no recipe for success in the fixed mindset, their advice tended to be short and sweet. “I’m sorry” was the advice of one child as he offered his condolences.

Journey to growth mindset:

We all are mixture of growth and fixed mindset but we can increase the proportion of growth mindset once we are aware about our situation. And these are the four steps suggested by author to move in that direction with examples:

  1. Embrace your fixed mindset.
  2. Become aware of your fixed-mindset triggers.
  3. Now give your fixed-mindset persona a name.
  4. Educate it. Take it on the journey with you.

Amazing Quotes:

  • The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.
  • When you’re lying on your deathbed, one of the cool things to say is, ‘I really explored myself’.
  • Effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.
  • Personal success is when you work your hardest to become your best.
  • Unfortunately, people often like the things that work against their growth.
  • Speed and perfection are the enemy of difficult learning.

Buy this book