Mindset by Carol Dweck
Carol Dweck is a psychologist at Stanford University in California. She has done studies on human behavior, and in this book she simply divides people into 2 groups…those who believe they can change, or have a “growth mindset”, and those who believe they cannot change, or have a “fixed mindset.” Frequently, of course, one may have a mixture of these two, depending on the behavior. For example, an individual may have a fixed mindset when it comes to his algebra skills…“I 'm not good at math”, but have a growth mindset when it comes to an athletic skill. Additionally, mindsets can change throughout life.
This analysis provides an interesting way to view varying abilities, from athletics, to business, to social, and goes a long way to explain things we have all observed…for instance, the goofy clumsy kid who can’t field a ground ball at age 9, but by age 15 is on the All-Star team. Or the kid who struggles a simple phycics problem in the 11th grade, but 13 years later scores the highest in the nation on standardized testing on in service exams in his complex field of scientific endeavor. Conversely, we’ve all seen the kids who seem great at everything, but years later are found not to have fulfilled their potential, having been surpassed by those with far lesser skill. It explains why the “self esteem” craze actually hurts performance and skill development.
Dweck says the important thing is EFFORT, not quitting, not being afraid to keep trying and failing/ looking bad. Reminded me of Churchill…once last in his class at Harrow, …but later a giant. His quote “Never give in, never, never, never, never…”
She provide numerous examples…Bobby Knight( fixed), John Wooden( growth), Michael Jordan( growth), Tiger Woods( growth), John McEnroe(fixed), among others to support her thesis. She’s not always on the mark however, as one example of a growth mindset company, Circuit City, has ended in bankruptcy. In Tiger’s case, it may also explain why he’s willing to keep changing his swing, despite having won so many majors…and it does raise the question in my mind…when is good enough achieved?
I would think that many who read this site would be of the growth mindset category…that is, they believe they can change given the right information and program to bring about the change. This book provides valuable information, and shows how a growth mindset can make a huge difference in many areas of a person’s life.
While the concepts may seem obvious, the “growth” vs “fixed” approach is compelling. Great coaches always said “never quit.” This shows us why the effort can and will result in improvement for those who believe they can improve. If you are a golfer trying to get better, or a coach helping someone else, this is excellent information and inspiration. If you are a parent, do your kid a favor and read it!