I ordered Dr Carol S. Dweck’s Mindset after reading an interesting article that mentioned it. It sounded like a fascinating study of the human mind and how our mindset affects every aspect of our lives. When it arrived, I was suspicious. It looked like any other self-help book promising to help you ‘fulfil your potential’ whether in ‘business, parenting, school or relationships’, and it did have some of the hallmarks of those kinds of books – lots of testimonials, repetition to the point where it sometimes felt like you were being beaten around the head with a simple idea that any idiot could immediately understand, and some real cringe moments, like when little Jimmy learns about the growth mindset and looks at Carol ‘with tears in his eyes’ and says ‘You mean I don’t have to be dumb?’
There are a lot of kids in this book that beggar belief, as they rub their hands together in glee when given a hard puzzle and say ‘I was hoping this would be informative!’ But scratch the all-American surface of this book and you’ll find some really interesting research on the difference between a fixed mindset (talent is what’s important; our abilities and intelligence are innate) and a growth mindset (effort and determination are what’s important; our brains and abilities are entirely flexible).
The book looks at the features and effects of the two different mindsets when it comes to raising kids, romantic relationships, education, sports and running companies, and it invites you to consider where the fixed mindset spots in your life are.
- Do you give up on something if you don’t take to learning it as quickly as you expected to, or as quickly as those around you?
- Do you believe that musical geniuses, amazing artists and top athletes have special, innate talents and were just born different to the rest of us?
- Are you impressed by people who can achieve things seemingly without effort?
- Are you more proud of the things that you can achieve without effort than things you’ve slaved over?
- Do you ever get waylaid by a little voice in your head that says you’re no good at this or that, that you’ll never be good at it and that you shouldn’t bother wasting your time on it?
- Do you ever feel the need to protect an image of yourself as someone who’s talented at something, even at the expense of learning more about it?
- Do you believe that some people are natural winners in life and others are natural losers?
If any of these things are even slightly true of you, give this book a read – I hope you’ll find it genuinely inspiring and insightful, as I did, with plenty of food for thought.