Dr. Carol S. Dweck was challenged by her student to write a book about the results of years of her research study. Dr. Carol S. Dweck seized the opportunity and wrote this book, “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success and How We Can Learn to Realize Our Potential” in the hope that it will help the common human to understand that life is what you do and not what you were given at birth. She has written in simple language giving examples of ordinary people like her and her students, artists like Picasso, athletes like Michael Jordan, the basketball player and John McEnroe the tennis player, Marina Semyonova the great Russian dance instructor and CEOs of different companies to name a few. In the third paragraph of your introduction, write: “… you will learn how a simple belief about yourself … guides a large part of your life … in fact, it permeates every part of your life …” Thus, it draws the reader to the book, making it one of its real life examples as the reader finds himself in these examples.
Dr. Dweck introduces the two types of mindsets, the fixed mindset and the growth mindset in the first section of the book. She writes how she learned from ten-year-olds that failure can be a gift if you have the right mindset. By giving them difficult puzzles to work on, the children cultivated their intellectual abilities through effort and did not give up. These children became his role models in his search for whether human qualities are things that can be cultivated or are things curved in stone. Each person has a unique genetic endowment, but experience, training, and personal effort go the rest of the way.
Dr. Dweck’s twenty years of research has shown that the view you take on yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. She writes that if you believe that your qualities and features are set in stone and cannot be changed, then you have a fixed mindset. And if you believe that cherished qualities and traits can be developed and cultivated, then you have a growth mindset.
Fixed-minded people believe that an individual’s intelligence, quality, and traits are a fixed quantity that cannot be increased. If they do well in school, then they are smarter than others who do not do well. If they do well in sports, they are talented at birth. They spend time proving that they are better at the qualities assigned to them just to show that they received a healthy dose and that they are not deficient. If something doesn’t work out for people with a fixed mindset, they always blame it on something else.
Growth-minded people work hard to always do better. They don’t sit back and see their accomplishments as the end goal. There is always room for improvement in their minds. They don’t have time to sit back and see themselves as the best or better than everyone else. They don’t have time to sit back and think that they have a special talent. They are busy thinking about how they can improve it and what changes they can make if something expected did not go well. For them, if something does not go well it is not a failure, it is a challenge to find ways to make it happen.
In the second section of the book, Dr. Dweck takes us through her fixed mindset research journey and a growth mindset journey through various pairs of eyes. Showing how these two mindsets make or break people in your daily life. In individual sports, he gives an example of John McEnroe’s fixed mindset in tennis. He was a brilliant player who believed in talent, not effort, and who worked hard. When he didn’t win, he blamed something else. Like when he blamed the system for not liking the game more. He would not take responsibility. Micheal Jordan, on the other hand, has a growth mindset. If he missed a goal, he would go and practice for several hours trying to figure out why he had missed it. In team sport, the author gives an example of Couch John Wooden, who was tactically and strategically average, but won ten national championships. Coach Wooden, with a growth mindset, tells us that he was good at getting players to fill roles as part of a team. He cared about the feelings of the players. Fixed mindset like the one coach Bobby Knight chose players for their talent. He was an excellent coach but used the dictator approach to win. The winners were short-lived and broke individuals’ characters in the process.
In corporate companies, the author uses General Electric CEO Jack Welch as the fixed mindset who managed to humble himself to a growth mindset and as his mindset grew, the company grew at the same time. Lee Iacocca, whose fixed mindset is good at getting the company to the top quickly, but then you have to get rid of him before he breaks it. The Ford Motor Company did just that and Lee Iacocca was not happy. Fixed-minded leaders are more concerned with being heroes and put their ego before the well-being of the company. The author gives an example of Enron as a company that fell into the hands of intelligent, fixed-minded senior people. Enron employed talented smart people and paid the ultimate price to close the business. Enron is a good example of groupthink in which executives indulge in brilliance and superiority and make catastrophic decisions.
In love, these two mindsets can make or break a relationship. In her research, Dr. Dweck found that fixed mindsets feel judged and labeled for rejection in a breakup. They also chose revenge as a means of reaching the person who hurt them. The growth mindset chose to forgive, learn from it, and move on. The author uses as an example Hilary Clinton, who forgave her husband and decided to cancel to save their relationship. It takes time and effort to cultivate the emotional skills necessary to maintain a relationship.
Dr. Dweck ends this third section with the influence that the mindset of parents, teachers, and coaches has on the children in his care. In her research, she found that children interpret caregivers’ words of support and encouragement with a fixed mindset approach. This sets them up for failure. For example, “… You learned that so fast! You’re so smart …” is interpreted as “… If I don’t learn something fast, I’m not smart …” She explains that parents, teachers, and coaches They should refrain from praising their intelligence or talent, but praise them for the work they do. She goes on to say that parents, teachers, and coaches should give children equal time and attention regardless of their initial abilities. Children, in turn, will give their all and flourish. The author notes: “… As parents, teachers and coaches, we are entrusted with people’s lives. They are our responsibility and our legacy …”
In the fourth section of the book, Dr. Dweck embarks on the most rewarding part of her job: watching people change. People are neither aware nor aware of their beliefs. Dr. Aaron Beck, a psychiatrist, found that he could teach them how to work and change these beliefs. And cognitive therapy was born, one of the most effective therapies ever developed. Dr. Dweck used workshops to investigate how fixed-minded people handled the information they received. He found that they put a strong evaluation on every piece of information. Something good led to a very strong positive label and something bad led to a very strong negative label. Growth-minded people are also constantly monitoring what is happening, but their internal monologue is not about judging themselves or others. They are sensitive to positive and negative information, but are attuned to its implications for learning and constructive action. Dr. Dweck also had a workshop for students. Workshops require a large staff to deliver the material. So the workshop material was put into interactive computer modules. The teachers guide their classes through the modules and call it Braintology. These mindset workshops put students in charge of their brain.
It is interesting to note how a simple characteristic like a mindset affects decision-making across a broad spectrum of the population. A kindergarten student, a CEO in a billion dollar company, a surgeon at work in a hospital, a sportsman in practice and on the court, a chef in a high-end hotel, a selection of dance students and a sports team. College students drop out of classes or drop out of school because they have a fixed mindset. A growth mindset helps you learn to deal with anger and deal with stereotypes of racial and gender discrimination. It is quite fascinating.