Book notes: Mindset

Mindset by Carol Dweck book summary

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Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck


Synopsis: “Mindset is one of those rare audio books that can help you make positive changes in your life and at the same time see the world in a new way. A leading expert in motivation and personality psychology, Carol Dweck has discovered in more than 20 years of research that our mindset is not a minor personality quirk: it creates our whole mental world. It explains how we become optimistic or pessimistic.

Dweck demonstrates that mindset unfolds in childhood and adulthood and drives every aspect of our lives, from work to sports, from relationships to parenting. She reveals how creative geniuses in all fields – music, literature, science, sports, business – apply the growth mindset to achieve results. Highly engaging and very practical, Mindset breaks new ground as it leads you to change how you feel about yourself and your future.” -Audible

Opening thoughts:

This was one of those books that I can thank Audible’s “recommended” list based on my past purchases. It had high rating, a lot of reviews, and the synopsis sounded interesting. When I started to really get into personal development and listening to books consistently, started off with a lot of books on mindset. I learned from Tony Robbins that success is 80% psychology and 20% mechanics. Therefore, I knew I had to reprogram my thoughts and mental scripts so that I when I started to learn the mechanics, I would go in with the right mindsets.

Over the past year, many of the books I’ve listened to were on mechanics: marketing, business, entrepreneurship, management, and sales. I figured it was time to revisit a book that covered psychology and resharpen my mindset.

Key notes:

  • Fixed mindset vs. growth mindset
  • Chapter 1: the mindsets
  • Not only do genes and environment cooperate as we develop, but genes require input from the environment to work properly
    • Moreover, scientists are discovering that people have more capacity for lifelong learning than they originally thought
  • The IQ test was meant to measure progressive growth
    • Of course, each person has a unique genetic endowment, as people may start with different temperaments and aptitudes
    • But it is clear that experience, training, and personal effort take them the rest of the way
  • Those with a growth mindset have the special ability to identify their own strengths and talents
  • CEOs Disease, similar to having a fixed mindset
  • People with a growth mindset thrive when they are stretching themselves
  • Fixed mindset people are so focused on being perfect right now
  • Potential is someone’s capacity to develop their skills with effort some overtime
    • That’s the point, how can we know where effort and time can take someone?
  • Selecting people for mindset, or runway, which is the capacity for growth
  • Mindsets changes the meaning of failure
  • “You aren’t a failure until you start to blame” -John Wooden, legendary basketball coach
  • Study: The more depressed the people with the growth mindset felt, the more they took action to confront their problems
    • The more they made sure to keep up with their schoolwork and lives
    • The worst they felt, the more determined they became
  • Why is effort so terrifying? Two reasons:
    1. In the fixed mindset, great geniuses are not supposed to need it
    2. It robs you of all of your excuses
  • People with more resources, like money education and connections, all stand a better chance of having their efforts pay off
  • People are born with a love of learning, but a fixed mindset can undo it
  • Learn from your past failures, realize that it doesn’t define you
    • Put it in a growth mindset perspective and ask yourself what can you learn from it and use as a basis for growth
  • Next time you feel depressed, put yourself in a growth mindset
    • Think about growing, learning, and challenging yourself
    • Think about effort as a positive and constructive force
  • Chapter 3: the truth about ability and accomplishment
  • What really feeds genius and prodigy is that constant and endless curiosity and challenge seeking
  • It is absolutely possible to change the quality of one’s mind
    • Example: Students who were labeled as “deficient” were treated like prodigies and geniuses. In the end, they lived up to that potential
  • In the book Creative Habit, the author argues that creativity is not a magical act of inspiration, it’s the result of hard work and dedication
  • There is a danger and labeling people as smart, talented, and gifted
    • Labeling people fosters a fixed mindset
  • Existing stereotypes also greatly affect people with a fixed mindset
  • Put yourself in a growth mindset, think about learning and improvement, not judgment
  • Find a growth mindset way to complement your kids
  • Muhammad Ali was one of the greats because of his mind, not his physical naturalness or gifts
  • Michael Jordan became the legend because he was the hardest worker in the sport ever
  • People prize natural endowment over earned ability
    • As much as our culture talks about individual effort and self-improvement, deep down we revere the naturals
    • We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who are born different from us
  • The naturals, carried away with their superiority, don’t learn how to work hard or how to cope with setbacks
  • Character is the ability to dig down and find the strength even when things are going against you
    • Character grows out of mindset
  • A champion is someone who can raise their level of play when they needed to
  • John wooden says he believes ability can get you to the top, but it takes character to keep you there
  • Personal success is when you work your hardest to become your best
  • Star players usually referred to themselves as “we” when they win
    • Every sport is a team sport, even in individual sports
  • Worrying about being a nobody is not the mindset that motivates and sustains champions
    • Somebodies are people who go for it with all they have
  • Chapter 5: business, mindset, and leadership
  • Jack Welsh says that nearly everything he’s done in his life has been done with other people
  • True self-confidence is the courage to be open, to welcome change and new ideas regardless of their source
    • Real self-confidence is reflected in your mindset, your readiness to grow
  • Leadership is all about growth and passion, not about brilliance
  • Groupthink comes out from fixed mindset thinking when an entire group puts unlimited faith in a talented leader
  • Chapter 6: relationships-mindsets in love or not
    • Fixed mindset people deal with rejection and heartbreak with revenge thinking
  • You can have a fixed mindset on three parts of the relationship:
    • Your qualities
    • Their qualities
    • The relationship’s qualities
  • Every relationship requires effort to maintain, as there is a constant tension between the forces that hold it together and knows that pull it apart
  • Choosing a partner is choosing a set of problems
    • There are no problem free candidates, the trick is to acknowledge each other’s limitations and build from there
  • Shy growth mindset versus shy fixed mindset in social interactions and meeting new people
  • Bullies get a rush of self-esteem and gain social status from their actions
  • Example of how a school anti-bullying program helped
    • Teachers would reinforce and praise good behavior and the effort, not comment on the person
  • Chapter 7: parents, teachers, and coaches
    • Where do mindsets come from?
  • Praising children’s intelligence harms their motivation and harms their performance
  • Parents think they can hand children permanent confidence, like a gift, by praising their brains and talent
    • It doesn’t work and in fact has the opposite effect
    • It makes children doubt themselves as soon as anything is hard or anything goes wrong
  • If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning
    • That way the children won’t be slaves of praise and have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence
  • Children need honest and constructive feedback
    • If children are protected from it, they won’t learn well
    • They will experience advice, coaching, and feedback as negative and undermining
    • Withholding constructive criticism does not help children’s confidence, it harms their future
  • The great teachers believe in the growth of the intellect and talents, and they are fascinated with the process of learning
  • Being a great teacher starts with the growth mindset, about yourself and about children
    • Not just lip service to the idea that all children can learn, but a deep desire to reach in and ignite the mind of every child
  • John Wooden lives by this rule:
    • You have to apply yourself each day to become a little better. By doing so, over a period of time you will become A lot better. He didn’t ask for wins, he only asked for full preparation and full effort
  • John Wooden admits that in terms of basketball tactics and strategies, he was quite average
    • What he was really good at was analyzing and motivating his players. He was able to help his players fulfill their potential
  • Chapter 8: changing mindsets
    • Mindsets frame the running account that’s taking place in people’s heads. They guide the whole interpretation process
  • Growth questions to ask yourself every morning:
    • What are the opportunities for learning and growth today? For myself and for the people around me?
    • Ask where, when, and how will I embark on my plan?
  • What do I have to do to maintain and continue the growth?

Closing thoughts:

A really good book with a solid central idea. However, the author could have been significantly more concise with the point. As with most books I read with a lot of “fluff,” I do appreciate all of the examples that really allow the reader to digest and absorb the main ideas with memorable stories. However, I could have done without about a third of the fluff.

I enjoyed the ideas about how our society reveres the naturally talented and labels them our “superheroes.” In reality, most of these people were simply those who found a passion for constant improvement and learning, and stuck with it. We also like to label these naturals because it relieves us “unnaturals” from the responsibility of hard work and effort. If we say that success is simply the result of natural born talent, we can easily justify our own mediocrity.

I also enjoyed the ideas about raising your kids with the growth mindset. She discusses how it is dangerous to label our kids as “smart” or “talented” instead of as “hard workers.” Reminds me a lot of what Josh Waitzkin says in his book The Art of Learning, about how chess prodigies would have such fragile senses of self. These kids who were told they were smart all their lives would crumble when they couldn’t live up to that identity. He, on the other hand, had a growth mindset and could cope with failure better than most of his peers at the time.

The last parts of the book had a lot of great examples of coaches and teachers whose success came from implementing a growth mindset, which I think is super valuable for anyone in that situation. From parents, to educators, and any kind of mentor, its important to utilize this mindset to help others fulfill their potential.

Overall, I really enjoyed this book. I think it has a great theme, but also a great action plan. Most of all, this book is applicable to almost everyone as adopting this mindset can transform many different areas of your life.

Nutshell: Having a “growth mindset” is waaaayyy better than having a “fixed mindset,” and several hours explaining why with various stories, examples, and studies.

Rating: 4.5 / 5

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