With a new year coming up it is time for a new attitude as well, at least for most of us. This is where Mindset comes in. The book, written by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, is based on many years of research surrounding peoples’ mindsets, and how these can influence success. The book reminds me of a couple of similar type motivational books; Sway and Outliers, in that it supports its premise using various success stories around famous people; Billy Bean, Muhamad Ali, Thomas Edison, and others. It focuses on two different ideas; the fixed mindset vs the growth mindset.
The Fixed Mindset
The fixed mindset basically believes everyone has set or fixed abilities. These abilities can’t change; if you are bad at drawing, you just don’t have artistic talent. If you are not a good singer, you can never learn to be great. Stepping up to a challenge with this mindset means you essentially have nothing to gain. People with this mindset would rather perform easy challenges and succeed, since it validates their opinion that they are intelligent and winners. I am sure we all know people like this who seek constant validation to confirm how great they are. But this leads to a very black and white point of view. Try something and succeed, you are smart. Try and fail, you are a failure. This can greatly hinder your ability to persevere, as this mindset tends to give up or make excuses rather than try to improve themselves through learning.
The Growth Mindset
This mindset enables you to be motivated by challenges and stretch beyond the normal. People with this mindset step up to these challenges and thrive where others will give up. One example in the book is of a college student who came in late for class on day just in time to copy down the two math homework problems written on the chalkboard. He struggled with these problems for days, but eventually solved them. It turned out the professor had put these problems up on the board as examples of math problems that had never been solved before!
What is Success?
These two mindsets bring up a very interesting question that, to me, is the central point of the book: Is success about learning or proving you are intelligent? This one really hit home for me, as I can think back to many times when I didn’t want to try to learn something because I was afraid I would fail and look dumb. This fixed mindset is afraid of failure, and opts out from learning something new and embracing challenges that will push you to your full potential while building new brain synapses.
How is this book different?
This book is a lot different from other motivational books in that it shows you how you can identify and learn to change your mindset. It is well thought out, and offers numerous examples from real life and research that will really make you think. This is a book well worth reading!