Book review, Mindset

Mindset by Carol Dweck

Here’s the Rub: This is an all time favorite. This is an amazing book with a life changing message. This book the foundation of my approach and view on life and leadership. Much like the core value of this blog, it teaches you that the journey of success begins internally. It states that to be successful and to remain successful you must obtain and maintain a certain mindset.  The book lays out the differences of two mindsets: the “fixed mindset” and the “growth mindset.”

People with the “fixed mindset” believe their qualities, intelligence and potential are unchangeable or “fixed”. They believe that you are not in control of you own abilities.

People with the “growth mindset” believe their qualities, intelligence and potential are changeable and that they can improve over time. They believe that it starts with you. They believe that people who excel at something excel because they decided they wanted to be good at a specific thing and then worked hard to improve.

It really is that simple. It is also very powerful specifically when it pertains to leadership. I truly believe that the best leaders are the best learners and it all starts with your mindset. If you believe that your traits are fixed then you have given up before you started. If you think some people are born smart or they are born a leader then it gives you the excuse to not try and become better. This has a huge impact on the people you lead and how you lead them.

You have heard it before in your life right? You have heard people at work or in your family say. “That guy is a born leader.” or  when referring to someone who excels in certain subjects that “She was born with it.” It just isn’t true. Everything in life is learned and everything in life is earned. Everything.

At 8 hours and 34 minutes this book is a short listen and narrated brilliantly. At 288 pages it is also a read you can finish in no time. The lessons from this book are well worth the investment of time and money.

The first three chapters lays out the fixed vs. growth mindset. Dweck  gives you the research behind the concept. She discusses her work and studies with children and their approach to education and failure. It is fascinating stuff. She also lays out the definitions in detail of both mindsets and why starting here is so important. The reason your mindset is so important is because it is the foundation of your ability to learn. If you don’t believe you can learn and improve you will never even start the process and if you do you start …. you wont follow through. If you know that you can learn anything and then also become great at anything the world is full of possibilities.

The building blocks of mindset are your beliefs and your focus. These building blocks have enormous impact on the key factors to learning and growth which are effort, challenges, mistakes, and feedback.

Those with the fixed mindset believe skills are born and you cant do anything about it. These folks focus on outcomes and how they look to others. I like to call them output focused people. 

Those with the growth mindset believe skills and potential are built through learning and growth and they focus on the process. I like to call them input focused people. (Clever right :0 )

When you have a fixed mindset you don’t believe that you can improve so you don’t put in the effort. Setbacks and challenges are not temporary to those with a fixed mindset because they affirm the belief that excellence is predetermined at birth and not crafted through years of hard work and learning. Feedback on improvement will be useless to these folks as well because the don’t believe in getting better and they are not focused on the process…only the outcome.

When you have a growth mindset you believe that you can improve so you put in the effort. You are focused on the process so setbacks and challenges are a part of the learning process. A mistake is only temporary and just another opportunity to learn. Finally, when you have a growth mindset you crave constructive positive or negative feedback because it only helps you in the growth process.

Imagine believing that you can do anything humanely possible. Imagine knowing that this belief is backed by an overwhelming amount of scientific research. Having this mindset almost becomes a superpower.

The remaining chapters of the book look to the worlds of sports, business, leadership, relationships, parenting and education to show the concept in practice.

In the book you will hear the stories of many with both mindsets. You will hear stories about figures like Michael Jordan. Michael Jordan was famously cut from his high school team the first time he tried out. He then went on to work his tail off and become widely seen as the best basketball player ever. He would be the first one to tell you that he got there by hard work and the belief that he could always get better. Imagine if Michael had a fixed mindset. He would probably never picked up a basketball again after he was cut from the team. He also probably would have never quit basketball in his prime and tried to play baseball (a sport he was awful at and a topic for another article). A couple more stories about those who persevered with a growth mindset here –

You can look at many areas of life and see those who have a fixed mindset and those who have a growth mindset. They are everywhere. I think the most important factor within this concept is that fact that no person is completely fixed and no person is completely growth. Also no person is permanently fixed or growth. You must work hard to maintain the growth mindset and you must also work hard to make it reach into every area of your life. You can be growth mindset at work and fixed when parenting.  You can then read parenting books and listen to parenting podcasts on a regular basis and then implement what you have learned. This is the beauty of the concept ….that fact that it isn’t fixed.

All in all I couldn’t not recommend this book more and to consume any media that helps you learn and maintain your growth mindset. Mindset by Carol Dweck is a masterpiece.

This is the best video I have seen that summarizes the topic of mindset :

Train Ugly:






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