Mindset – the book


Mindset the new psychology of success    Carol Dweck Ph D   A really quick book review

Dweck pushes back, hard, on any idea that a person’s ability to succeed is predetermined by heredity, social situation, gender or anything for that matter. Anything, that is, but one’s mindset toward their own ability and especially one’s belief about ability to learn.

There is an important something about expectation in all of this. Indeed some of us are more likely to succeed at certain things. But Dweck cautions about developing an attitude along the lines of separating those who have ‘talent’ from the rest of us. People accomplish big when they maintain an open, learning, growth attitude. Einstein didn’t just decide he would share what he easily understood and knew all along. He worked endless hours for many years. Edison was a voracious learner. Helen Keller accomplished a great deal without the most basic physical abilities. Those who accomplish, work at it and are open, hungry even, about learning.

Mindset makes all the difference she argues. When I believe that success is achieved by people who are talented, then the rest of the world must be less than talented. Said that way, well, wow. This view of the world tends to feed a fragile existence, because when the person who believed they are talented does not come first, they feel inadequate, lost, even fearful of another failure being writ large on a billboard somewhere. This is the trapped existence of a fixed mindset

The counter is referred to as a growth mindset. The person who adopts a growth mindset sees the world as a place of learning. Even when they do accomplish and win their thoughts turn to how could they have done even better. Yes they can celebrate but resist having the one victory define them. The extreme talent mindset holds that study and practice are not needed because they have ‘talent’. Superiority, aloofness, entitlement and a penchant for blaming anything but themselves starts to show up when things don’t go exactly as they have scripted in their imaginings.

Some talent mindset people do pretty well. They are indeed smart and can think fast on their feet. So they get promoted and climb the hierarchy. The way they handle their natural humanity in making an error here and there can be brutal. “This is unacceptable! Who do I need to fire?” Blaming anything but themselves becomes a defense imperative. The leadership at Enron is one of the examples that Dweck uses to demonstrate this point.

This book well describes the Growth vs the Fixed Mindset, with lots of great examples. I saw myself in many of the stories she relates. A real touch of reality and aha and oh, I do that. Very helpful. And definitely NOT an invitation to yet another way so sort goats from sheep. We are humans and all different. This book provides a really useful way to see ourselves, to laugh and to accept each other. Leaders do that.

Get ready to see yourself. Enjoy seeing yourself and celebrating what you see J

I recommend this book. Your team will be glad that you read it. Encourage them to read it too.