Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
On the cover of this book, there is a quote by Chip & Dan Heath that states “Everyone should own this book!” After reading it, I wholeheartedly agree. Dr. Dweck has caused me to reevaluate how I teach my students and grandchildren. I agree that we should learn how to praise work and effort and not just talent.
As a teacher, this concept challenged me to reflect and ask myself if I am doing the best job I can for my students. I already inherently understood how asking the “right” questions and making the “right” comments in the classroom can be a catalyst for changing the way students learn and think. However, Carol provides some very effective phrases to use to enhance the learning process.
I definitely had some “ah-ha” moments about myself as I came to understand the fixed mindset better. Some of the author’s insights were real eye-openers, relative to some of my personal traits, which enabled me to discern many of my past failures.
As an advertised scholarly work, I felt it fell short. However, as a motivational text, anyone may benefit from this book to some degree. There are a number of useful examples of how one can improve their leadership, parenting, and teaching skills.
Quotes cited from “Mindset” follow this format: (Page Number).
1. 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. (5)
Comment: I’ll never forget a plaque on the desk of a college department administrator I once had to deal with a problem. It said, “The prize goes not to the strongest or smartest, but to the most persistent.”
Learners vs. Non-learners
2. Benjamin Barber, an eminent sociologist, once said, “I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong or the successes and the failures… I divide the world into the learners and nonlearners.” (16)
Comment: I’ve never categorized others in this way before, but it makes sense. Collectively, the strong and successful are who they are because they learn, adapt, and overcome the challenges they are faced with on a consistent basis.
3. John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach, says you aren’t a failure until you start to blame. What he means is that you can still be in the process of learning from your mistakes until you deny them. (37)
Comment: Understanding this insight was a crossroad in my life and has made all the difference in my attitude towards life. In fact, if you want to blame someone for where you are in life, blame yourself. You are where you are in life because of the decisions YOU have made, and you really cannot blame anyone else.
4. In short, when people believe in fixed traits, they are always in danger of being measured by a failure. It can define them in a permanent way. Smart or talented as they may be, this mindset seems to rob them of their coping resources. When people believe their basic qualities can be developed, failures may still hurt, but failures don’t define them. And if abilities can be expanded–if change and growth are possible–then there are still many paths to success. (39)
Comment: Failure seemed to define the Boston Red Sox for 68 years… case in point. Boston was leading 5-3 in the bottom of the tenth inning in the World Series. All they needed was three outs to be champions. But, the curse of the Bambino “lived on.” There are few things worse than choking under pressure, especially if you’re an athlete on the world stage!
To the Top
5. Many growth-minded people didn’t even plan to go to the top. They got there as a result of doing what they love. It’s ironic: The top is where the fixed-mindset people hunger to be, but it’s where many growth-minded people arrive as a by-product of their enthusiasm for what they do. (48)
Comment: Damned straight! Have a passion for what you do and all kinds of opportunities open up for you!
6. Incidentally, people with a growth mindset might also like a Nobel Prize or a lot of money. But they are not seeking it as a validation of their worth or as something that will make them better than others. (49)
Comment: Comparing yourself to others in any way is a losing proposition for personal growth. At the end of the day, the only person you are competing with is yourself.
7. It’s common for students to turn off to school and adopt an air of indifference, but we make a mistake if we think any student stops caring. (201)
Comment: Kids don’t stop caring because they want to matter. This idea is the first thought that comes to my mind when I’m faced with a student flaunting an indifferent attitude.
8. Parents think they can hand children permanent confidence–like a gift–by praising their brains and talent; it doesn’t work. In fact, has the opposite effect. It makes children doubt themselves as soon as anything is hard or anything goes wrong. If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence. (176)
Comment: I have personally experienced this concept as a child and a parent. I played the piano and trumpet for years as an adolescent. However, when the pieces began to get more involved, I lost interest because, in retrospect, I didn’t want to put in the time and effort to learn to play them proficiently. Also, as an adult, I have begun playing the piano and guitar again. Nonetheless, I’m reticent to share my music because I feel it isn’t good enough. In spite of this attitude, I am beginning not to be so concerned with that sentiment.
Practice, Practice, Practice
9. To be successful in [anything], you need to learn techniques and skills and practice them regularly. (98)
Comment: You can have all the talent in the world, but without practicing the skills and techniques corresponding to that skill you will never be proficient. It takes years and years of “beating on your craft” to master your chosen endeavor(s).
10. As parents, teachers, and coaches, we are entrusted with people’s lives. They are our responsibility and our legacy. We now know that the growth mindset has a key role to play in helping us fulfill our mission and in helping them fulfill their potential. (211)
Comment: This statement and truth is a sobering thought and has caused be to ask a lot of questions of myself. For example, am I fulfilling my responsibility as a teacher? I would like to think so, but the only way is to adopt a growth mindset and keep getting better.
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Quotes – Dweck, C. (2008). Mindset: the new psychology of success. New York, NY: Ballantine Books. Content is displayed for educational purposes in accordance with the Fair Use clause of the United States copyright code.