“Mindset” Review

As I mentioned in my previous post “Mindset, The New Psychology of Success” by Carol Dweck was one of the, if not THE most transformative books I have ever read.  I would encourage every man woman and child who wants to achieve, teach, coach or parent to read this book.

It all started when she was a young researcher.  She was obsessed with how people dealt with failure and decided to study children and how they dealt with hard problems.  She encountered responses that baffled and shocked her.  Some of the children said things like “I love a challenge” and “I was hoping this would be informative”!  She thought to herself “What is wrong with these kids”  Lol.  There is something very different about them.

She had always believed that you either coped with failure or you didn’t cope with failure.  She never thought anyone loved failure.  “Somehow they knew that human qualities such as intellectual skills, could be cultivated through effort.  And that’s what they were doing.  Getting smarter.  Not only weren’t they discouraged by failure, they didn’t even think they were failing!  They thought they were learning.  They thought they were learning!  Wow!  What a concept!  They weren’t failing…they were learning!  As I write this, I am staggered by the power of this way of thinking.  Can you imagine, if you adopted this view for yourself what you could learn?  What you could accomplish?

She then goes on to explain that in over twenty years of research she’s discovered there are two mindsets.

  • Fixed Mindset – The belief that our qualities are cut in stone.  Fixed.  That you have a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, character, charisma etc.  With this mindset you have one goal.  Look smart.  Don’t look dumb.  The problem with this is that it creates one all consuming goal;  proving yourself.  Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality or character.  Every situation is evaluated and judged.  Will I look smart?  Will I look dumb?  Will I succeed or will I fail?  Will I be accepted or rejected?  Will I feel like a winner or a loser?
  • Growth Mindset – This mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.  That you can change and grow through application and experience.  That a persons potential is nearly limitless with the belief that they can learn new skills and grow.  The belief that qualities can be developed, creates a passion for learning.

The differences can be summed up like this,one mindset sees themselves as having fixed ability and has to continually prove it.  The other believes that ability is changeable and can be developed through learning.

When I read the book I started observing my thoughts.  Was I thinking in a fixed or a growth mindset.  Depending on the subject I found out that I used both mindsets, depending on the subject.  But when it came to learning new skills, I clearly had a fixed mindset.  I would procrastinate and avoid sitting down to learn the new skills!  Which was a pattern through my life.  It wasn’t a question of work ethic.  If I knew what I was doing, I would work all day and all night if need be.  But something new?  Something I was unsure of?  Something I had to learn and knew there would be time wasted and obstacles in trying to figure something out?…Avoidance!!

I had a great conversation recently with my carpet cleaner walnutcreekcarpetcleaning.net.  He had read the book and he talked about how the book had completely changed his business.  That he realized that marketing was something he didn’t know very well and finally hired someone to do marketing for him and it paid for itself many times over.  But before he did, he had to admit to himself that marketing wasn’t his forte.  He wasn’t very good at it.  He was good in front of the customer but he needed help getting in front of the customer.  He could learn those skills or hire someone to do it for him.  But he had to admit to himself that he didn’t want to learn it.  He also said learning a growth mindset helped in adding more services to his business.  In the past he was hesitant because he knew he wasn’t good at certain things because he hadn’t done it.  But then he started looking at each potential new job as a learning opportunity and priced jobs just to get the job so he could practice the new skills.  Taking a long term view of profits down the road instead of low profit margins now.  He’s now learned several new skills which are now very profitable for him.

The bottom line is that if you develop a growth mindset and realize that learning new skills are filtered with obstacles for everyone when they start, it removes the fear of being judged as no good.  That you are learning and growing.  And that if you can see yourself as growing, the immediate result does not matter.  We all know that getting good at something you weren’t good at before feels amazingly good.  An accomplishment you can be proud of.  Perseverance builds self esteem like nothing else can.  I encourage you to pick up the book.  It might just allow you to reach farther then you’d ever thought possible.  And that my friends is a goal worth striving for!