Note: This Mindset summary is part of an ongoing project to summarise The 35 Best Books on Mindset.
There are some books you come across where you can pinpoint the moment you read them from the clear course-altering inflexion point they left in your life.
Carol Dweck’s Mindset is one of those books.
This book taught me to be kinder, it made me more persistent and courageous, it motivated me to learn about learning, it inspired me to work on my habits and character traits, it changed the way I think about raising a family, it helped me to realise I am enough, just as I am…
And that’s just the start of the list. 😅
The best part? Carol’s writing is clear, entertaining and concise. Her thesis is simple. Her conclusions are thought-provoking, enlightening and easy to put into practice.
This is a book that will change who you are, what you do and how you look at the people around you in just a few hundred pages. And it won’t break your brain in the process.
Conclusion? If you haven’t read Mindset, get off the fence.
And in the meantime (or if you just need a recap) you can check out my free, concise Mindset summary below…
TYPE: Non-fiction (science, philosophy), practical.
SYNTHESIS: A research-grounded dive into the self-fulfilling nature and impact of Fixed- and Growth-Mindset beliefs in personal development, by social and developmental psychology professor, Carol Dweck.
IN A NUTSHELL: “When you enter a mindset, you enter a new world. In one world – the world of fixed traits – success is about proving you’re smart or talented. Validating yourself. In the other – the world of changing qualities – it’s about stretching yourself to learn something new. Developing yourself.
In one world, failure is about having a setback. Getting a bad grade. Losing a tournament. Getting fired. Getting rejected. It means you’re not smart or talented. In the other world, failure is about not growing. Not reaching for things you value. It means you’re not fulfilling your potential.
In one world, effort is a bad thing. It, like failure, means you’re not smart or talented. If you were, you wouldn’t need effort. In the other world, effort is what makes you smart or talented.
You have a choice. Mindsets are just beliefs. They’re powerful beliefs, but they’re just something in your mind, and you can change your mind.”
NOTE: The secret to fulfilling your potential is changing your mindset. Specifically, it’s in moving from a Fixed-Mindset to a Growth-Mindset, where:
- A Fixed-Mindset is the belief that abilities (from intelligence to creativity and athleticism) are innate and largely fixed; and
- A Growth-Mindset is the belief that abilities are highly trainable and developed through effort and failure.
In reality, where you stand on the Fixed – Growth Spectrum depends on two factors:
- The Task – E.g., you may have a Growth-Mindset toward physical strength but a fixed mindset toward musical or mathematical ability; and
- The Actor – I.e., you may believe others are more changeable than yourself or be prejudiced by e.g., sex, colour or age.
In Mindset, Dweck argues compellingly that the best outcomes come from assuming a generous Growth-Mindset towards everything and everyone.
And yet, thanks to outdated science and practice, we often assume quite the opposite – with life-altering consequences for ourselves and the people around us.
Why is the shift so important? Because believing abilities are fixed makes every failure a painful reminder of our unconquerable inadequacy. The result? Fixed-Mindsets devastate progress. Not only do people with Fixed-Mindsets avoid taking risks, but they also give up more easily on themselves and on others – at play, at work, at school and at home.
But when we believe that traits and abilities are trainable, that we can always change and improve, we totally change our approach. Defeats become learning opportunities. Set-backs set boundaries we can test, push and improve. A Growth-Mindset doesn’t just make growing possible, it makes failure exciting.
Most critical of all is realising that our mindsets affect everyone around us – in how we learn, how we teach, how we judge and even how we love.
For example, praising children or employees for their intelligence (an innate quality) instead of their persistence and grit (qualities that promote growth) fosters Fixed-Mindsets that limit their ability to grow. The same goes for athletes and artists. Or for the expectations we set for ourselves and our loved ones at home.
In exploring the themes above, Dweck’s Mindset maps out decades of thought-provoking research over 8 chapters where:
- Chapters 1 – 3 set out the basic theory and supporting evidence;
- Chapters 4 – 7 tests theory and practice in sports, business, relationships and teaching; and
- Chapter 8 explores the paths to changing mindsets in yourself and others.
The good news? Your mindset – whatever the task, whoever the actor – is just a belief.
Mindset is a habit you can change.
Looking for some quotes from the book? Check out TAoL‘s collection of…
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Enjoyed this Mindset summary? You might enjoy the rest of the books on this list of The 35 Best Books on Mindset.