Review: Carol Dweck’s Mindset

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After a morning of hysteria from snapping my work laptop in two, I curled up in the guest bedroom to finish reading Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.  This book is incredible, and Mindset is definitely a must-read for superteachers.  Dweck focuses on what makes an effective teacher as well as an effective student, parent, athlete, businessperson, and leader.  Her ideas about switching from a “fixed” mindset to a “growth” mindset really resonated with me, and I hope you’ll find the same inspiration from her work.

Dweck explains that there are two mindsets: “fixed” and “growth.”  People with fixed mindsets believe traits, personalities, talents, and relationships are fixed – permanently set in stone.  A fixed mindset believes we’re born a certain way, and we can’t do much to change that position.

People with growth mindsets believe everything is  work in progress.  Traits, personalities, talents, and relationships can always grow with hard work.  A growth mindset believes we’re born a certain way, but we have the power to develop exponentially.

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Dweck gives us example after example showing the difference between a fixed and a growth mindset.  Michael Jordan and Tiger Woods are two examples of growth-mindset athletes; John Wooden is an example of a growth-minded coach; and Jack Welch is an example of a growth-minded CEO.

Some reviewers found Dweck’s central message from Chapter 1 all they needed from the text.  For example, Daly writes, “I found the ideas she presents – or rather, singular “idea,” since there really isn’t more than one – to be quite interesting, as I’d hoped. Unfortunately, the book itself isn’t. As I said earlier, reading a single chapter gets the point across: intelligence is not fixed, it can be changed. It is only our “mindset” that holds us back. If we believe we can’t learn, if we believe our abilities are restricted, then they will be. Our limitations are learned and set by ourselves. If we think we can improve ourselves, we will. If we insist that we’re unable to achieve, we won’t” (Source).  Chapter 1 definitely lays out Dweck’s core idea, but the best way to really digest that message is to read the examples in her industry-specific chapters.  She covers sports in Chapter 4, business in Chapter 5, relationships in Chapter 6, and education in Chapter 7.  This approach worked for me, as it allowed me to see a larger picture.  Another reviewer writes, “What makes Mindset particularly compelling is the avalanche of vivid stories from lives of the ordinary and the celebrated in the worlds of business, science, education and sports. […] Each chapter is filled with anecdotes from everyday people as well as names still making headlines today, demonstrating how a fixed mindset can constrict a life while a growth mindset can liberate and empower” (Source).

Sometimes, I tend to agree with the first reviewer when I’m reading.  For example, I didn’t much like the book I read before Mindset because I felt Chapter 1 was all I needed to understand the core idea.  Sometimes, though, I tend to agree with the second reviewer.  Clear examples and stories to support the main idea help me better understand that argument.  With this particular book, the chapters helped me develop a better understanding of what it means to be a truly empowering leader, mentor, and superteacher.

What have you been reading lately?

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