Mindset: A book review by Bob Morrtis

Posted on: October 7th, 2012 by bobmorris

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
Carol S. Dweck
Ballantine Books (2008)

How to achieve sustainable growth of intellectual capabilities with the right mindset
I read this book when it was first published (2006) and recently re-read it before reading Daniel Siegel’s Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation. Presumably he shares my high regard for Carol Dweck’s breakthrough insights, as countless other authors have duly acknowledged in books published in recent years. She focuses on two mindsets, one that is fixed and another that can be “grown” with appropriate development. Moreover, she also explains how and why it is possible to change one’s mindset. “You have a choice. Mindsets are just beliefs. They’re powerful beliefs, but they’re just something in your mind, and you can change your mind. As you read [this book], think about where you’d like to go and which mindset will take you there.” Long ago, Henry Ford observed, “Whether you think you can or think you can’t, you’re probably right.”

More recently, in Extraordinary Minds, Howard Gardner observes that exceptional individuals “have a special talent for identifying their own strengths and weaknesses.” Dweck suggets that those with this talent seem to have a growth mindset. Readers will appreciate her strategic provision of a “Grow Your Mindset” section at the conclusion of each chapter.  She poses direct questions, reviews key points, and suggests several different ways to think about how to expand and enrich mindsets to fulfill one’s potential at home, at work, in the community, and wherever else has special relationships.

These are among the subjects, topics, and passages that caught my eye:

o  “Is Success About Learning — Or Proving You’re Smart?” (Pages 16-17)
o  “Mindsets Change the Meaning of Failure” (32-39)
o  “Mindsets Change the Meaning of Effort” (39-44)
o  “Negative Labels and How They Work” (74-80)
o  “Leadership and the Fixed Mindset” (112-114)
o  “Groupthink versus We Think” (134-136)
o  “Mindsets Falling in Love” (148-157)
o  “Bullies and Victims: Revenge Revisited” (165-171)
o  “Sending Messages [to Children] About Process and Growth” (177-179)
o  “Teachers (and Parents): What Makes a Great Teacher (or Parent)?” (193-202)

I think that Mindset is among the most important books published during the last decade. While re-reading it again, I was reminded of three key points that help to explain much of human behavior: First, that almost all limits are self-imposed; next, that there is much we cannot control or even influence but we [begin italics] can [end italics] control how we respond to what happens to us; finally, that taking full advantage of a growth mindset requires a commitment no less demanding in terms of its nature and extent than a commitment to peak performance. For example, revelations about such a commitment after decades of research by Anders Ericsson and his associates at Florida State University. (For more about that research, read his HBR article, “The Making of an Expert,” and one or more of these books: Daniel Coyle’s The Talent Code, Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers, and Geoff Golvin’s Talent Is Overrated.) Thank you, Carol Dweck, for helping so many of us to gain a better understanding of who we are, and, of greater importance, of who and what we can perhaps become with a growth mindset.

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