In this book, you’ll learn how a simple belief about yourself–a belief we discovered in our research–guides a large part of your life. In fact, it permeates every part of your life. Much of what you think of as your personality actually grows out of this “mindset” Much of what may be preventing you from fulfilling your potential grows out of it.
There are so many books out there on “finding happiness,” and I often find that after finishing these books that make big promises about personal fulfillment, I’m often disappointed. But the Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success is a book I wish I’d read when it was published five years ago. Her thesis simple yet revelatory. There are two mindsets: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. People who live with a fixed mindset believe that talent is innate/”fixed”, that success should come easily, that failure is a dead end. People with a growth mindset believe that intelligence is ever-changing, that we are always learning, that effort is a crucial part of success; they are able to recast a failure as the challenge to keep going, and in that way the failure isn’t failure for long: it’s just another step on the path to success.
Dweck writes so well about how these mindsets manifest themselves in the ways children learn, athletes perform, and even in how relationships evolve (or don’t evolve).
Dweck acknowledges that we can all have different mindsets about different things, and I found myself reflecting on how my own mindsets change radically depending on what mood I’m in. When I am more manic, I believe I’m capable of anything. I am inspired by the success of my friends and of other artists and writers when I read their work. I’m excited about writing, photography, reading, and learning new things.
And when I’m depressed, I can find personal failure everywhere I turn. All I do is think about the things in my life I haven’t accomplished. “You never finished your novel,” I’ll say to myself. Or, “All of your friends are mores successful than you and have talent you will never have.” It’s embarrassing to even write the things that cross my mind when I’m depressed.
But what’s great about this book is that, especially for those of us who normally think about our minds in terms of a depressed-or-manic rubric, these mindsets are a new way to understand our thinking, no matter what our mood is. And as much as the book is about learning how to change your mindset, it’s about learning to identify the qualities of the mindsets that lead to growth verses those that lead to stagnation.
Mindsets are an important part of the personality, but you can change them. Just by knowing about the two mindsets, you can start thinking and reacting in new ways. People tell me they start to catch themselves when they are in the throes of the fixed mindset–passing up on a chance for learning, feeling labeled by a failure, or getting discouraged when something requires a lot of effort. And then they switch themselves into the growth mindset–making sure they take the challenge, learn from the failure, or continue their effort.