Set in your ways? Probably not a good thing.




What are the consequences of believing that your intelligence or personality is fixed, rather than something that you can develop and expand over time? That is the fundamental question posed by Doctor Carol Dweck in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Ever hear the old saying, you can’t teach an old dog new tricks? If you truly believe that, then you are limiting yourself – you are limiting your potential and you may even be limiting your kids, friends, parents and spouse. Dweck says that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life (Dweck 6).

She produces example after example of famous celebrities, sports stars, scientists and others, comparing those with a fixed mindset to those with a growth mindset. Essentially:

  • People with a fixed mindset fear challenge and devalue effort (Dweck 10)
  • People with a growth mindset believe in lifelong learning
  • People with a fixed mindset believe in proving they are smart or talented which often prevents them from taking risks and stepping outside their comfort zone
  • People with a growth mindset never decide its too hard or not worth the effort – they walk, they fall, they get up, they just barge forward (Dweck 16)

“The passion for stretching yourself  and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset,” (Dweck 7). People with a growth mindset don’t just seek challenge they thrive on it (Dweck 21).

One commonality in all of the psychology, education and child-rearing books I’ve read throughout my life, is the fallacy of standardized tests, and Dweck’s book is no different. Interestingly, many of today’s “successes” were considered by experts to have no future, including, Elvis, Lucille Ball, Charles Darwin, and Ray Charles (Dweck 17). The most telling point of all: when NASA solicited applications for astronauts, they rejected people with histories of pure success and instead selected people who had significant failures and bounced back from them (Dweck 29).

Which mindset do you have?

Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. New York: Random House, 2006. Print.


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