Embrace Possibility Mindset by Carol Dweck

Mindset by Carol Dweck

(click on book cover for more details)

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck

  • Published: December 2007
  • ISBN-10: 0345472322
  • EP Rating: 5 out of 5 (must read)

EP Main Takeaway: Adopt a growth mindset NOT a fixed mindset. See yourself as a work in progress, not a finished product. Failure doesn't define you - your skills can be developed so focus on getting better by doing ever more challenging work. Stop trying to prove you're great or protect your intelligence by taking on easy tasks or not trying. Praise and criticize effort, not traits, brains or talent.

Our notes:

People may have different starting points but experience, training, and personal effort is what takes them the rest of the way; "not always the people who start out the smartest that end up the smartest" (Binet)

Your mindset matters: adopt growth mindset as opposed to fixed mindset

  • Stop trying to prove your greatness and focus on getting better, those with fixed mindset avoid being measured while the growth mindset focused on what to do differently in the next situation;
  • When reviewing your skills, do you see fixed ability that needs to be proven or changeable ability that can be developed

Howard Gardner - "exceptional people have a special talent for identifying their own strengths and weaknesses"

No matter what kind of person you are, you can change substantially and you can change your mindset

Challenge yourself by playing against people better than you; really explore your limits - don't go through life doing what is easy; get the thrill from what's hard

Definition of smart: learning something over time (confronting a challenge and making progress) as opposed to immediate perfection; stop trying to prove you're special or superior to others; recognize your struggle and honor your work**

Potential is the ability to develop skills: one test CANNOT measure you forever

Failure doesn't define you; those with a fixed mindset tend to shirk, cheat, blame when they fail and look to compare with those worst off; those with a growth mindset will work harder*

Fixed mindset thinks effort is for people with deficiencies; hard to say "I gave it my all but it wasn't good enough"; people don't try because they don't think they need to if they have talent; Not trying also removes excuses when you try and fail

  • People with fixed mindsets seek validation for being smart or that they are better than others*

Strive to be able to say, "I gave my all for the things I valued"

Growth Mindset Strategies:

  • When you want to give up because something is hard, keep going and meet the challenge; Be mentally tough to stay focused when things aren't going your way; champions stretch beyond ordinary ability when they need to
  • Remember that you're not perfect, get constructive feedback
  • When you're feeling down, work harder
  • Do something you're not good at; Focus on the value of your actions and not the outcomes - take actions that stretch you
  • Think of your heroes, note the work they put in to achieve what they have achieved

Working harder makes you smarter; study to learn, not just to ace tests; take charge of the process for being awesome ***

What anyone in the world can learn, anybody else can learn given the right conditions

Praise effort - not ability; burden of talent kills enjoyment;

Avoid labeling - Negative labels harm achievement because people are afraid of deserving it. Positive labels hurt because people are afraid of losing it.

When people beat you, consider that they used better strategies, taught themselves more, practiced harder and worked their way through obstacles

Gladwell - people praise natural endowment over earned ability; that's why people think it's effortless for successful people (don't fall into this trap)

Growth mindset: work in progress

Fixed mindset: finished product

  • Success = proving you're superior
  • Failure = labeled as loser
  • Doesn't take responsibility for process: blames others

Don't assume you're bad at something - work hard and you can overcome

Great leaders:

  • Can look failures in the face, even their own, and maintain faith that they would succeed at the end
  • Give praise for initiative, seeing a difficult task through, struggling and learning something new, acting in criticism

Warning sign of someone with a fixed mindset:

  • They need to prove their superiority!! Or blame others **;
  • They look to validate themselves even if it means putting others down

When leaders have a fixed mindset, everyone adopts it because do they are being judged in that way

In relationships:

After a breakup, fixed mindset people go for revenge to discredit the other person; growth mindset person sees the experience as a learning opportunity

When it comes to relationships, see you, your partner and the relationship all having the ability to grow

  • mind reading, agreeing on everything is fixed mindset thinking
  • partners have the potential for change but it doesn't mean they will change
  • encourage each other's development

Who can you share your successes with? These are your real growth mindset friends

To your children, send this message:

  • Praise effort, not intelligence or talent - "You are a developing person and I am interested in your development."
    • Be careful how you talk about others and about praising speed and perfection
    • Innate talent is not a goal, developing skills and knowledge is
  • Don't make life a series of tests, remove judgment ***, teach instead
  • Teach them to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort and keep on learning **
  • When child fails, tell them why they didn't deserve to win; feedback teaches how to fix something, it doesn't label
  • Next time in a position to discipline, look at the msg you are sending:
    • "I will judge and punish you" or "I will help you think and learn."
    • Show kids you love them even if they don't go for your aspirations for them; resist the urge to make children carbon copies of yourself

Great teachers believe in the growth of the intellect and they are fascinated with the process of learning

  • Teach students to love learning; challenge and nurture them
  • Continue to learn - apply yourself a little each day to become better
  • Demand full preparation and full effort from your students
  • Remember you top priorities for a teacher: concern, compassion and consideration

"Success is not coming to you, you must come to it."

Beware of success - it can knock you into the fixed mindset

When deciding to take action (need to do, want to learn, problem to solve), don't vow - make a concrete and vivid plan.

  • What can I learn from this?
  • Ask: What are the opportunities for learning and growth today? For myself, for people around me?
  • When, where and how will I learn?

Change needs to be supported or they go away; you're always vulnerable to your old habits

Move away from judge and be judged mindset to learn and help learn

Here is a good visual summary from Carol Dweck's Mindset website:

Summary of Fixed and Growth Mindset by Carol Dweck

Robert Chen

Robert Chen is the founder of Embrace Possibility and author of The Dreams to Reality Fieldbook. He helps people who feel stuck move forward by guiding them to see other possibilities for their lives. He specializes in working with high performers get to the next level. If you're going through a tough time right now, check out Robert's article on How to Feel Better Right Away and if you're having trouble getting what you want out of life, check out How to Always Achieve Your Goals.

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