Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

4.1 83
by Carol Dweck
     
 

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World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, in decades of research on achievement and success, has discovered a truly groundbreaking idea—the power of our mindset.
 
Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success—but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She

Overview

World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, in decades of research on achievement and success, has discovered a truly groundbreaking idea—the power of our mindset.
 
Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success—but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising intelligence and ability doesn’t foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success. With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to raise their grades, as well as reach our own goals—personal and professional. Dweck reveals what all great parents, teachers, CEOs, and athletes already know: how a simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area.
 
Praise for Mindset
 
“Everyone should read this book.”—Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Switch and Made to Stick
 
“Will prove to be one of the most influential books ever about motivation.”—Po Bronson, author of NurtureShock
 
“A good book is one whose advice you believe. A great book is one whose advice you follow. I have found Carol Dweck’s work on mindsets invaluable in my own life, and even life-changing in my attitudes toward the challenges that, over the years, become more demanding rather than less. This is a book that can change your life, as its ideas have changed mine.”—Robert J. Sternberg, IBM Professor of Education and Psychology at Yale University, director of the PACE Center of Yale University, and author of Successful Intelligence
 
“If you manage any people or if you are a parent (which is a form of managing people), drop everything and read Mindset.”—Guy Kawasaki, author of The Art of the Start and the blog How to Change the World
 
“Highly recommended . . . an essential read for parents, teachers [and] coaches . . . as well as for those who would like to increase their own feelings of success and fulfillment.”—Library Journal (starred review)
 
“A serious, practical book. Dweck’s overall assertion that rigid thinking benefits no one, least of all yourself, and that a change of mind is always possible, is welcome.”—Publishers Weekly
 
“A wonderfully elegant idea . . . It is a great book.”—Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., author of Delivered from Distraction

Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly
Mindset is "an established set of attitudes held by someone," says the Oxford American Dictionary. It turns out, however, that a set of attitudes needn't be so set, according to Dweck, professor of psychology at Stanford. Dweck proposes that everyone has either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. A fixed mindset is one in which you view your talents and abilities as... well, fixed. In other words, you are who you are, your intelligence and talents are fixed, and your fate is to go through life avoiding challenge and failure. A growth mindset, on the other hand, is one in which you see yourself as fluid, a work in progress. Your fate is one of growth and opportunity. Which mindset do you possess? Dweck provides a checklist to assess yourself and shows how a particular mindset can affect all areas of your life, from business to sports and love. The good news, says Dweck, is that mindsets are not set: at any time, you can learn to use a growth mindset to achieve success and happiness. This is a serious, practical book. Dweck's overall assertion that rigid thinking benefits no one, least of all yourself, and that a change of mind is always possible, is welcome. (On sale Feb. 28) Copyright 2005 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Do you have two left feet or a brown thumb? Not good at math, athletics, or art? Many of us believe one or more of these statements are true reflections of our innate abilities. Psychologist and researcher Dweck (Stanford Univ.), however, argues that attributes such as intelligence, personality, creativity, and talent are all a matter of our mind-sets, or our beliefs about ourselves. She posits that there are two basic mind-sets: fixed and growth. People with the fixed mind-set believe that everything about themselves is innate-e.g., that they are either smart or they're not, talented or not. Those with the growth mind-set, on the other hand, embrace challenges, struggles, criticism, and setbacks as opportunities for learning and growth rather than indications of failure. The good news is that mind-set, according to Dweck, can be changed from fixed to growth. This book is an essential read for parents, teachers, coaches, and others who are instrumental in determining a child's mind-set, and in turn, his or her future success, as well as for those who would like to increase their own feelings of success and fulfillment. Highly recommended for all libraries.-Wendy Wendt, Marshall-Lyon Cty. Lib., MN Copyright 2006 Reed Business Information.
From the Publisher
“Everyone should read this book.”—Chip and Dan Heath, authors of Switch and Made to Stick
 
“Will prove to be one of the most influential books ever about motivation.”—Po Bronson, author of NurtureShock
 
“A good book is one whose advice you believe. A great book is one whose advice you follow. I have found Carol Dweck’s work on mindsets invaluable in my own life, and even life-changing in my attitudes toward the challenges that, over the years, become more demanding rather than less. This is a book that can change your life, as its ideas have changed mine.”—Robert J. Sternberg, IBM Professor of Education and Psychology at Yale University, director of the PACE Center of Yale University, and author of Successful Intelligence
 
“If you manage any people or if you are a parent (which is a form of managing people), drop everything and read Mindset.”—Guy Kawasaki, author of The Art of the Start and the blog How to Change the World
 
“Highly recommended . . . an essential read for parents, teachers [and] coaches . . . as well as for those who would like to increase their own feelings of success and fulfillment.”—Library Journal (starred review)
 
“A serious, practical book. Dweck’s overall assertion that rigid thinking benefits no one, least of all yourself, and that a change of mind is always possible, is welcome.”—Publishers Weekly
 
“A wonderfully elegant idea . . . It is a great book.”—Edward M. Hallowell, M.D., author of Delivered from Distraction

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9781588365231
Publisher:
Random House Publishing Group
Publication date:
02/28/2006
Sold by:
Random House
Format:
NOOK Book
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
5,891
File size:
3 MB

Read an Excerpt

Chapter 1

THE MINDSETS

As a young researcher, just starting out, something happened that changed my life. I was obsessed with understanding how people cope with failures, and I decided to study it by watching how students grapple with hard problems. So I brought children one at a time to a room in their school, made them comfortable, and then gave them a series of puzzles to solve. The first ones were fairly easy, but the next ones were hard. As the students grunted, perspired, and toiled, I watched their strategies and probed what they were thinking and feeling. I expected differences among children in how they coped with the difficulty, but I saw something I never expected.

Confronted with the hard puzzles, one ten-year-old boy pulled up his chair, rubbed his hands together, smacked his lips, and cried out, “I love a challenge!” Another, sweating away on these puzzles, looked up with a pleased expression and said with authority, “You know, I was hoping this would be informative!”

What’s wrong with them? I wondered. I always thought you coped with failure or you didn’t cope with failure. I never thought anyone loved failure. Were these alien children or were they on to something?

Everyone has a role model, someone who pointed the way at a critical moment in their lives. These children were my role models. They obviously knew something I didn’t and I was determined to figure it out—to understand the kind of mindset that could turn a failure into a gift.

What did they know? They knew that human qualities, such as intellectual skills, could be cultivated through effort. And that’s what they were doing—getting smarter. Not only weren’t they discouraged by failure, they didn’t even think they were failing. They thought they were learning.

I, on the other hand, thought human qualities were carved in stone. You were smart or you weren’t, and failure meant you weren’t. It was that simple. If you could arrange successes and avoid failures (at all costs), you could stay smart. Struggles, mistakes, perseverance were just not part of this picture.

Whether human qualities are things that can be cultivated or things that are carved in stone is an old issue. What these beliefs mean for you is a new one: What are the consequences of thinking that your intelligence or personality is something you can develop, as opposed to something that is a fixed, deep-seated trait? Let’s first look in on the age-old, fiercely waged debate about human nature and then return to the question of what these beliefs mean for you.

WHY DO PEOPLE DIFFER?

Since the dawn of time, people have thought differently, acted differently, and fared differently from each other. It was guaranteed that someone would ask the question of why people differed—why some people are smarter or more moral—and whether there was something that made them permanently different. Experts lined up on both sides. Some claimed that there was a strong physical basis for these differences, making them unavoidable and unalterable. Through the ages, these alleged physical differences have included bumps on the skull (phrenology), the size and shape of the skull (craniology), and, today, genes.

Others pointed to the strong differences in people’s backgrounds, experiences, training, or ways of learning. It may surprise you to know that a big champion of this view was Alfred Binet, the inventor of the IQ test. Wasn’t the IQ test meant to summarize children’s unchangeable intelligence? In fact, no. Binet, a Frenchman working in Paris in the early twentieth century, designed this test to identify children who were not profiting from the Paris public schools, so that new educational programs could be designed to get them back on track. Without denying individual differences in children’s intellects, he believed that education and practice could bring about fundamental changes in intelligence. Here is a quote from one of his major books, Modern Ideas About Children, in which he summarizes his work with hundreds of children with learning difficulties:

A few modern philosophers . . . assert that an individual’s intelligence is a fixed quantity, a quantity which cannot be increased. We must protest and react against this brutal pessimism. . . . With practice, training, and above all, method, we manage to increase our attention, our memory, our judgment and literally to become more intelligent than we were before.

Who’s right? Today most experts agree that it’s not either–or. It’s not nature or nurture, genes or environment. From conception on, there’s a constant give and take between the two. In fact, as Gilbert Gottlieb, an eminent neuroscientist, put it, not only do genes and environment cooperate as we develop, but genes require input from the environment to work properly.

At the same time, scientists are learning that people have more capacity for lifelong learning and brain development than they ever thought. Of course, each person has a unique genetic endowment. People may start with different temperaments and different aptitudes, but it is clear that experience, training, and personal effort take them the rest of the way. Robert Sternberg, the present-day guru of intelligence, writes that the major factor in whether people achieve expertise “is not some fixed prior ability, but purposeful engagement.” Or, as his forerunner Binet recognized, it’s not always the people who start out the smartest who end up the smartest.

WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN FOR YOU? THE TWO MINDSETS

It’s one thing to have pundits spouting their opinions about scientific issues. It’s another thing to understand how these views apply to you. For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value. How does this happen? How can a simple belief have the power to transform your psychology and, as a result, your life?

Believing that your qualities are carved in stone—the fixed mindset—creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character—well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.

Some of us are trained in this mindset from an early age. Even as a child, I was focused on being smart, but the fixed mindset was really stamped in by Mrs. Wilson, my sixth-grade teacher. Unlike Alfred Binet, she believed that people’s IQ scores told the whole story of who they were. We were seated around the room in IQ order, and only the highest-IQ students could be trusted to carry the flag, clap the erasers, or take a note to the principal. Aside from the daily stomachaches she provoked with her judgmental stance, she was creating a mindset in which everyone in the class had one consuming goal—look smart, don’t look dumb. Who cared about or enjoyed learning when our whole being was at stake every time she gave us a test or called on us in class?

I’ve seen so many people with this one consuming goal of proving themselves—in the classroom, in their careers, and in their relationships. Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser?

But doesn’t our society value intelligence, personality, and character? Isn’t it normal to want these traits? Yes, but . . .

There’s another mindset in which these traits are not simply a hand you’re dealt and have to live with, always trying to convince yourself and others that you have a royal flush when you’re secretly worried it’s a pair of tens. In this mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way—in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments—everyone can change and grow through application and experience.

Do people with this mindset believe that anyone can be anything, that anyone with proper motivation or education can become Einstein or Beethoven? No, but they believe that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.

Did you know that Darwin and Tolstoy were considered ordinary children? That Ben Hogan, one of the greatest golfers of all time, was completely uncoordinated and graceless as a child? That the photographer Cindy Sherman, who has been on virtually every list of the most important artists of the twentieth century, failed her first photography course? That Geraldine Page, one of our greatest actresses, was advised to give it up for lack of talent?

You can see how the belief that cherished qualities can be developed creates a passion for learning. Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you? 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. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.

A VIEW FROM THE TWO MINDSETS

To give you a better sense of how the two mindsets work, imagine—as vividly as you can—that you are a young adult having a really bad day:

One day, you go to a class that is really important to you and that you like a lot. The professor returns the midterm papers to the class. You got a C+. You’re very disappointed. That evening on the way back to your home, you find that you’ve gotten a parking ticket. Being really frustrated, you call your best friend to share your experience but are sort of brushed off.

What would you think? What would you feel? What would you do?

When I asked people with the fixed mindset, this is what they said: “I’d feel like a reject.” “I’m a total failure.” “I’m an idiot.” “I’m a loser.” “I’d feel worthless and dumb—everyone’s better than me.” “I’m slime.” In other words, they’d see what happened as a direct measure of their competence and worth.

This is what they’d think about their lives: “My life is pitiful.” “I have no life.” “Somebody upstairs doesn’t like me.” “The world is out to get me.” “Someone is out to destroy me.” “Nobody loves me, everybody hates me.” “Life is unfair and all efforts are useless.” “Life stinks. I’m stupid. Nothing good ever happens to me.” “I’m the most unlucky person on this earth.”

Excuse me, was there death and destruction, or just a grade, a ticket, and a bad phone call?

Are these just people with low self-esteem? Or card-carrying pessimists? No. When they aren’t coping with failure, they feel just as worthy and optimistic—and bright and attractive—as people with the growth mindset.

So how would they cope? “I wouldn’t bother to put so much time and effort into doing well in anything.” (In other words, don’t let anyone measure you again.) “Do nothing.” “Stay in bed.” “Get drunk.” “Eat.” “Yell at someone if I get a chance to.” “Eat chocolate.” “Listen to music and pout.” “Go into my closet and sit there.” “Pick a fight with somebody.” “Cry.” “Break something.” “What is there to do?”

What is there to do! You know, when I wrote the vignette, I intentionally made the grade a C+, not an F. It was a midterm rather than a final. It was a parking ticket, not a car wreck. They were “sort of brushed off,” not rejected outright. Nothing catastrophic or irreversible happened. Yet from this raw material the fixed mindset created the feeling of utter failure and paralysis.

When I gave people with the growth mindset the same vignette, here’s what they said. They’d think:

“I need to try harder in class, be more careful when parking the car, and wonder if my friend had a bad day.”

“The C+ would tell me that I’d have to work a lot harder in the class, but I have the rest of the semester to pull up my grade.”

There were many, many more like this, but I think you get the idea. Now, how would they cope? Directly.

“I’d start thinking about studying harder (or studying in a different way) for my next test in that class, I’d pay the ticket, and I’d work things out with my best friend the next time we speak.”

“I’d look at what was wrong on my exam, resolve to do better, pay my parking ticket, and call my friend to tell her I was upset the day before.”

“Work hard on my next paper, speak to the teacher, be more careful where I park or contest the ticket, and find out what’s wrong with my friend.”

You don’t have to have one mindset or the other to be upset. Who wouldn’t be? Things like a poor grade or a rebuff from a friend or loved one—these are not fun events. No one was smacking their lips with relish. Yet those people with the growth mindset were not labeling themselves and throwing up their hands. Even though they felt distressed, they were ready to take the risks, confront the challenges, and keep working at them.

SO, WHAT’S NEW?

Is this such a novel idea? We have lots of sayings that stress the importance of risk and the power of persistence, such as “Nothing ventured, nothing gained” and “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” or “Rome wasn’t built in a day.” (By the way, I was delighted to learn that the Italians have the same expression.) What is truly amazing is that people with the fixed mindset would not agree. For them, it’s “Nothing ventured, nothing lost.” “If at first you don’t succeed, you probably don’t have the ability.” “If Rome wasn’t built in a day, maybe it wasn’t meant to be.” In other words, risk and effort are two things that might reveal your inadequacies and show that you were not up to the task. In fact, it’s startling to see the degree to which people with the fixed mindset do not believe in effort.

From the Hardcover edition.

Meet the Author

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., is widely regarded as one of the world’s leading researchers in the fields of personality, social psychology, and developmental psychology. She has been the William B. Ransford Professor of Psychology at Columbia University and is now the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her scholarly book Self-Theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development was named Book of the Year by the World Education Fellowship. Her work has been featured in such publications as The New Yorker, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe, and she has appeared on Today and 20/20. She lives with her husband in Palo Alto, California.

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Mindset 4.1 out of 5 based on 1 ratings. 83 reviews.
DFWScorpio More than 1 year ago
Let them fail! ~~ Reading this book and being exposed to the two mindsets allows me to become a better teacher and parent. Not only can I use these strategies in my classroom, but I can foster better relationships with all people: co-workers, friends, family, and neighbors. This is a MUST READ for anyone wanting to grow personally and understand others' perspectives on success and failure.
Guest More than 1 year ago
So many books have come out that divide us into sharply separate groups, mindwise, and such a flood (but public likes them) that treat the new findings in brain, cognition, consciousness, personality changes, etc--that one has to be amazing to rate 5 stars. Well, but here she does it. Two radically different ways we can feel, think, plan, decide in the uncertainties of a lifetime. It is not really a 'self-help' book. The two life-ways described try to bring to the masses the new discoveries in how minds work, how we form our personalities and make decisions. Not just loose estimates but backed up by late scientific studies and tests. By an acknowledged professional. You will meet people who show these two patterns: 'growth mindset' vs 'fixed states mind' around you. And confront these two paths of destiny within! Also some are struggling to make a way and figure them out, balance them. You are included. Not a magic formula but a sober account to help you navigate in life's uncharted seas. And, the new findings on flexibility, how brain can change itself, we can change ourselves here show the good. A happy fate: a chance to reach our goals: that we can change both and confront life to win. Optimism, based on old guesses but lit up by scientific scrutiny. Wow.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I am a faculty memeber at a Community College and I am requiring all of my students to read this resource for their benefit and the benefit of the students they will influence.
CoeurGal More than 1 year ago
I want to give this book to EVERYONE I know! Co-workers, friends, people with marriage and relationship issues.....easy to read, super applicable to just about everyone
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book has a simple premise: The world is divided between people who are open to learning and those who are closed to it, and this trait affects everything from your worldview to your interpersonal relationships. Author and psychology professor Carol S. Dweck has scoured research papers and news clippings to extract anecdotes about the pros and cons of both mindsets. Thus, stories about Michael Jordan, Lee Iacocca, John McEnroe, Wilma Rudolph and Babe Ruth, among others, find a place in this book. Dweck addresses the ways that mindsets have an impact on people. She explains that you can have a closed mindset in regard to some traits and an open mindset in regard to others. The thought-provoking insight comes from learning when you need to adjust your mindset to move ahead. The author extends her basic point by viewing all areas of human relationships through the prism of mindset. That is interesting, but we believe that this material would still be useful and illuminating even if it applied only to leadership and management.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Do you have a fixed or growth mindset? Carol Dweck gives many examples of fixed and growth mindsets that affect our daily lives, past and future. It was a very good read and understandable. I recommend this to anyone who wants to improve their mindset in these challenging days.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I highly recommend this book, especially for anyone who feels "stuck." Dweck presents a paradigm shift that will change the way you approach everything. "The new Psychology of Success" is a little misleading in that many people equal "success' with business or career, but she means success in what ever you endeavor to do, success in life. She explains the way mindset functions in our lives and then gives simple, practical ways to shift and make changes for the better.
Always_Inspired More than 1 year ago
This book came form a psychological perspective regarding 2 mindsets, the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. It talks about how to determine both, as well as how to deal with someone of either mindset. It also discusses how to change from a fixed to a growth mindset. The book discussed as well, that you have a growth mindset in one area and a fixed mindset in another. In the beginning of the book you can take a quiz to see your mindset. It's an easy enough read and will give to my teenagers to read.
JohnBensonMath More than 1 year ago
The basic idea presented by Dr. Dweck should be understood by everyone who helps children become adults. The book is research based yet easy to read and understand. It explains why some children find learning so much fun and others do not. The book explains how parents, coaches and teachers can become far more effective by simply understanding how that brain grows.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very interesting. I will use some of the techniques with my kids. I skimmed over most of the business section because I am no longer in business but I love the overall philosophy of this book and think it is very helpful in life.
Diane Trim More than 1 year ago
Terrific book. I so many great examples, positive thinking, and a solid course of action. I bought copies for people I love. I hope they'll read it and plan to keep learning for the rest of their lives.
ImAdamBailey 9 months ago
Brilliant! I LOVE the idea of having a growth mindset.  Revolutionary. Reading this book was like turning a light switch on. We aren't the sum of our intelligence and talent, these are just the starting points. Through dedication and hard work we are always growing, learning, and evolving. Fixed mindset: This is just how I am Growth mindset: I can learn and grow and become anything I want.  Great stuff!
Franici Desmon More than 1 year ago
Carol Dweck’s Psychological success Mindset has shaken the earth with its ability to unshackle the secrets of the mind. This book goes through the many key points of the mind, from explaining the differences of a growth and fixed mindset, to the pursuit of our own personal and professional goals. The Author includes many stories of people from famous basketball and tennis players, to the headstrong CEO of Chrysler, and how a fixed mindset only limit them to depending on their natural skills, trying to impress people, and being the best. Where the people with the growth mindset take challenges, push themselves, and are the best they can be. Carol Dweck is one of the most respected Psychologists in her field, she’s received several awards such as, but not limited to: Book Award for Self-Theories, Donald Campbell Career Achievement Award in Social Psychology, Society for Personality and Social Psychology Award, Ann L. Brown Award for Research in Developmental Psychology, University of Illinois Kingenstein Award for Leadership in Education, Kingenstein Center, Columbia University James McKean Cattell Lifetime Achievement Award, Association for Psychological Science Distinguished Scholar Award, Society for Personality and Social Psychology Distinguished Scientist Award (Society for Experimental Social Psychology) Invited Address, United Nations, Wilbur Cross Medal Yale University. “Becoming is better than being”, In the Mindset, Carol Dweck explains the complexities of the current human mind and maps out ways for you to achieve your full potential in any field reality. Even if you have no practice in that field, “No matter what your ability is effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishments”. These words have inspired millions like me, and have opened doors to things that I never thought I could do before, like archery and boxing. These two things I had absolutely no confidence in doing, but after reading Mindset, Id not only suggest this book to everyone I meet id personally recommend people take Carol Dweck’s word to heart.
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This is a must read for every parent, teacher and coach, who wants to provide a learning environment for their kids to be successful in life.
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