Your mindset—how you see yourself—shapes how you respond to people and events, to affect your outcomes. In this book, Carol Dweck draws on 20 years of research to explain how you can recognize, understand and change a fundamental mindset to impact all aspects of your life. In this Mindset summary, you’ll get an overview of the 2 mindsets—growth vs fixed mindset—and some of the key ideas in the book.
Why do some people fall apart in face of setbacks, while others turn their failures into success? Why are some people obsessed about proving themselves, while others can laugh at and learn from their mistakes? The key difference is in their mindset.
Fixed vs Growth Mindset
The fixed mindset is the belief that your qualities cannot be changed. Since you believe these qualities are a permanent part of who you are, you feel the need to constantly prove yourself.o The growth mindset is the belief that your qualities can be changed and nurtured through effort. You believe that people may be born with different gifts, interests, or temperaments, but everyone can change and grow through experience and practice.
The good news is, mindsets aren’t permanent and can be changed, i.e. you can choose what you believe. You’re likely to have a mix of both mindsets, but skew toward one of them. You also don’t have the same mindset all the time. For example, you may have a fixed mindset toward your personality but a growth mindset toward your abilities.
MINDSET AFFECTS SUCCESS, FAILURE, ATTITUDES & EFFORT
Your mindset affects how you define and approach success and failure, as well as your attitude toward effort. In a nutshell:
Mindset => Definition & Approach to Success
How you define and approach success determines your results. People with a fixed mindset believe their abilities are fixed, thus they prefer to stay in their comfort zone and focus on validating and proving themselves. Those with a growth mindset focus on learning and stretching themselves. There’s nothing wrong with building self-confidence and belief. The danger comes when you feel you’re entitled to success because you’re special, or when you define your self-worth by your achievements. When you do so, you’ll start to fear losing this sense of specialness.
Mindset => Definition & Approach to Failure
When things go wrong, everyone feels bad to some degree. The difference is in how they respond. People with a fixed mindset allows the failure to define them permanently (“I’m a failure), give up, or try to protect their image by hiding their deficiencies, finding blame or excuses. Those with a growth mindset may also feel upset, but they see the mistake as an incident and a problem to be overcome (“I failed this time”). They try to identify their shortfalls, confront the challenges, and seek alternative routes to success.
Mindset => Attitude toward Effort
People with a fixed mindset tend to resist putting in effort because (a) they believe the need to work harder means they’re not “special” enough, and (b) they’re silently worried that their best effort will turn out to be inadequate. People with a growth mindset are driven by their passion for excellence, and end up winning as a result of their growth.
In the book, Dweck gives numerous examples to illustrate the differences in the 2 mindsets above. You can get a detailed breakdown in our full 15-page book summary.
Mindset in Life
In our full Mindset summary, we’ll zoom in on research, examples and insights on how mindsets affect various aspects of our life, as well as tips for nurturing the growth mindset in parenting and education, coaching and sports, business and leadership, as well as in relationships.
The key message in the book is not that fixed mindsets are bad and growth mindsets are good; it’s about creating awareness of the 2 mindsets and their impact, so you can make a conscious choice on if/what to change in your best interest.
We end off with the key steps and tips that you can use to start changing your own mindsets, including how to:
- Become aware of your mindset(s);
- Reflect on the impact of fixed vs growth mindsets; and
- Know that you can choose and change your mindset.
Getting the Most from Mindset
If you’d like to learn more about the psychology of success and how to apply it to various aspects of work and life, do check out our Mindset book summary bundle. This includes an infographic, 15-page text summary, and a 25-minute audio summary.
The book includes many other anecdotes, examples, and resources such as:
- Examples and studies in schools, sports, and companies;
- Letters from readers on how the book and ideas have helped them;
- Tips at the end of each chapter to help you apply or reflect upon the ideas in the book; and
- Detailed scenarios of setbacks that you may encounter, with a walk-through of the thoughts and emotions you may experience with a fixed mindset, and how to shift to a growth mindset.
You can purchase the book here.
About the Author of Mindset
Mindset: The New Psychology of Success is written by Carol Dweck–the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. She is a leading research in the field of motivation, and is best known for her work on the mindset psychological trait. She graduated from Barnard College in 1967 and earned a Ph.D. from Yale University in 1972. She has held professorships at Columbia and Harvard Universities, has lectured all over the world, and has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
“Changing people’s beliefs—even the simplest beliefs—can have profound effects.”
“If you’re somebody when you’re successful, what are you when you’re unsuccessful?”
“Having innate talent is not a goal. Expanding skills and knowledge is.”
“Don’t judge. Teach. It’s a learning process.”
“A company that cannot self-correct cannot thrive.”
“The growth mindset is a starting point for change, but people need to decide for themselves where their efforts toward change would be most valuable.”