Carol Dweck


The New Psychology of Success

Mindset Summary

15 minute read    Audio Available

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In decision theory and general systems theory, a mindset is a set of assumptions, methods, or notations held by one or more people or groups of people.

Who is this book for?

  • Readers who are interested in persuasive and leadership oriented books.
  • People who need to use persuasion to generate sales or inspire change.
  • Anyone interested to learn how to use why to get desired results.

Meet the author

Carol S. Dweck (born October 17, 1946) is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. Dweck is known for her work on the mindset psychological trait. She has taught at Columbia University, Harvard University, and the University of Illinois before joining the Stanford University faculty in 2004.

Mindset Summary

There are only two types of mindsets: The fixed mindset and the growth mindset.

Carol Dweck, the author of Mindset, delves into two general mindsets that she proposes to all people can be grouped into. These are the fixed mindset and the growth mindset.

When describing the fixed mindset, we find that these individuals believe that all the traits and characteristics that define us are fixed, predetermined and cannot be changed. Characteristics such as talent, creativity, and intelligence to name a few.

The second mindset that we read about is known as the growth mindset. Those who fit into this particular group believe that our characteristics are not set in stone, but that there is much room for growth and learning and view challenges, setbacks and criticism as constructive events to inspire further progress and growth to better themselves.

These two mindsets are the basis for the entire book, and it begs the question which mindset do we, as the reader, fit into. Do I have a fixed or growth mindset? Do I believe I cannot change my inherent traits and that I should only concentrate on what I’m good at? Or do I think that I can progress and learn from my mistakes, and become a better individual and grow as a person?

Ask yourself which mindset you would prefer to be classified as.

Fixed mindset individuals seek approval. Growth mindset individuals seek to continuously learn and grow.

As we delve deeper into each of the mindsets, we gain a deeper understanding of each and what each means.

To understand that mindset, let us create a simple scenario. We could use a math test as an example.

Let’s say both a fixed and growth mindset individual took the test.

The fixed mindset individual passes the test. They will be happy, and they will be assured they do not need to do the test again.

Whether they understand the subject matter or the reasons why they answered the math questions in the manner they did, is not essential. This individual is only concerned with getting a positive pass result for the test and not in the actual application of the information or understanding it on a more in-depth level.

The growth mindset individual, however, fails the test. This individual will get his failed answer sheet back from his teacher and then go through each question and answer again, to see where the errors were made.

This person will ask the teacher questions as to fully understand where and how he/she went wrong as never to repeat the same mistakes and grow as an individual. Through a complete understanding of where the errors were made, the growth mindset individual will pass the rewrite of the test and any further questions of those natures in the future.

As you can see through the example, these two mindsets differ in their opinion on the importance of the acquisition of knowledge and how it is applied and why.

The fixed mindset will only want to pass a test and is not too concerned about the subject matter, whereas the growth mindset is more concerned with understanding the subject matter to have a better understanding and to get a pass mark for the test ultimately.

Fixed mindset individuals focus on what they are good at and avoid what they aren’t good at.

Let us now examine what can result due to having a fixed mindset.

We find that because the fixed mindset individual is set on the idea that we cannot change as individuals and our inherent abilities, talents, strong and weak points are unalterable; it leads us to the consequences of such thought patterns. We may find that because of this, they will focus on doing what they are good at and avoiding those activities that they are not good at.

This shields the fixed mindset individual’s ego and creates a false sense of security in his/her abilities and character. These individuals rely heavily on the praise and nod of approval from others, hence they will concentrate on what they are good at and never appear to be weak or in need of assistance in public.

The fixed mindset breeds the thought pattern that if you are good at something, it should be easy to do and if you are not good at it, it will be hard to perform. If it is hard to achieve, someone with a fixed mindset will avoid that activity. Please also take into account that fixed mindsets are not lazy people, they will work hard at what they are good at.

We also find that because the fixed mindset individual will avoid these tasks which are deemed as hard or something that he/she is not good at performing, it does not allow for healthy growth in the individual and this person will find themselves repeating the same actions for their entire life.

We may find that these individuals will rather blame other people for their failures than take responsibility for their shortfallings and develop that instead.

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Becoming is better than being ” 

Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

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