I’ve been hearing so much recently about this book that I had to look into it. Little that I knew is that it would give so much shape to the ideas I’ve been developing recently.
I’ve always believed that reaching the things we strive for, is a matter of attitude. Now, I understand exactly where is that attitude coming from, our mindset.
According to the research, there are 2 distinguished mindsets through which we approach life. Depending on the situation, we can either have a Fixed Mindset or we can have a Growth Mindset.
They each create a framework for our perspectives, our behaviours and assumptions, having a direct consequence in our lives.
- Fixed Mindset: is the one in which we feel (or we are certain) that there is nothing we or others can do to change the way we/they are. This means that we will always be as intelligent as we are and there is no way we can improve regardless of the amount of effort we invest in it. The Fixed Mindset believes that some people are smarter than others, some people have more skills and abilities than others and that’s just the way it is. In the Fixed Mindset, we believe that some people are destined for success (those with more intelligence and skills) and the others a destined for failure (those who are “dumb” and lack skills).
- Growth Mindset: it tells us that our traits are not set, that through our efforts we can actually learn and develop our skills to the point of excelling at our goals. This means that everybody can actually improve at whatever they propose themselves to do, it’s just a matter of committing to the improvement.
The Mindsets and Daily Life.
The book explains how we don’t necessarily need to be within a defined mindset in everything we do. This means that at a given time, we could use both mindsets.
Perhaps for losing weight we could have a Fixed Mindset while for improving our piano skills we may have a Growth Mindset. This may be due to our experience, labels that have been put on us by others and many more internal and external factors.
For people in the Fixed Mindset, the results of a test or an evaluation have a direct reflection on their capabilities. They define whether they are smart or not, whether they are a failure or not.
That is why the point about motivation was very interesting. The author explains that in the Fixed Mindset, our motivation comes from showing others that we are better than them; therefore, we hold ourselves from challenging opportunities that may lead us to failure.
Becuase failing would mean that we are not smart, we engage in opportunities that do not push us out of our comfort zone. Meanwhile, in a Growth Mindset, we are constantly searching for challenging opportunities we can learn from regardless if we succeed or not.
Because in the Growth Mindset failure doesn’t label us, we simply receive it as feedback on our current status; which means, that in the end, it’s all about the learning experience and the constant improvement.
She also points out the way we appreciate others, in particular how parents raise their children. I think that this is another crucial reason to read the book, especially for first-time parents and anybody in general.
She explains how through our praises, we can create a Fixed Mindset in our children. By praising traits rather than effort, we can actually do more damage than good.
By telling our kids or others how smart they are rather than recognizing the effort they invested to reach the results they attained, we send the message that effort is not important and traits are.
3 Key Findings.
When looking into athletes, they found 3 main realizations that can actually be implemented to any area of our lives:
- Regarding success, people with the Growth Mindset find fulfillment not in winning or losing but, rather in knowing they gave everything they could. Knowing they performed to the best of their abilities.
- Regarding failure, people with the Growth Mindset find losing to be very motivating. It’s a way of knowing that they are not ready to win yet and; therefore, they must go back and continue working even harder to become the best version of themselves.
- Regarding improvement, people with the Growth Mindset took ownership over the learning process. They develop a clear strategy, a plan of action that will allow them to reach success.
The author doesn’t clearly say that we must strive to have a Growth Mindset in everything that we do. She also doesn’t say that live’s problems will go away if we have a Growth Mindset.
But she does compare both mindsets based on her years of research and findings, exposing to you all the information you need to make the obvious case for yourself.
I believe that being in the Growth Mindset requires us to be vulnerable. To accept that we have some strengths and some weaknesses. That there is always room for improvement and this means that we are not necessarily the best.
That there are others that know more than us (yeap, that’s right 😉 ). And I think that this, is the hardest part of improving ourselves, coming into terms with reality. The beauty is, once we accept where we are, we can take ownership over the process and plan accordingly, which is exactly what finding #3 talks about.
Quick question: How can you improve if you don’t want to accept that you can and need to improve?
I really recommend reading the whole book. She structured in a way that is easy to connect our roles in life with the mindsets and identify how do we approach different situations. As I read it, I constantly found myself checking how do I do things, how my friends approach different situations.
Overall, the book is filled with interesting stories from her experience or people who have reached out to her, they build upon each other in a way that it was hard for me to highlight the clear message; instead, you must build it yourself.
Food for Thought.
What I love about Mindsets is that it only takes one sentence, one thought, one situation to shift them completely. Unlike building our self-confidence or our public speaking skills (both things that require longer periods of time), we can change our mindsets with just one simple realization. This is extremely exciting because it means that improvement can begin immediately after we shift our perspective.
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Before you go, I would like to ask you what you think of the concepts explained in the book? Do you think that our intelligence is fixed or can it be developed as well as our abilities and skills? Make sure to share it in the comments section below.
A Quick Mindset Quiz.
For the next 2 minutes, take an inner look and ask yourself the following questions:
- Is there something you feel you can’t change in the way you or others are?
- Is there something you feel you will never be able to learn?
- Do you feel that people are as intelligent as they are and it can’t be changed?
- Do you feel that some people are simply born with talent and are destined for success?
If you agree with this statements, then you are having a Fixed Mindset. Look into you daily life, what kind situations are you approaching with a Fixed Mindset and which ones with a Growth Mindset?
About the Author.
Carol S. Dweck, Ph. D. is an American, world renown researcher in the field of social psychology and a professor at Standford University. After years of research and teaching, she was pushed by her students to share her amazing findings with the rest of us.
The book is written in a very simple and straightforward language, making it easy to follow. Another thing that I like about it is how she goes over different social roles and presents to us the ways our mindset is projected.
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