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Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – Carol S. Dweck

Mindsets are powerful beliefs

Mindsets are just beliefs; powerful ones, but they’re just something in your mind, and you can change them.

Just by being aware of the two mindsets (fixed and growth), you can start thinking and reacting in different ways. It’s also important to realize that even if people have a fixed mindset, they’re not always in that mindset. Many people have elements of both.

The fixed mindset

  • Having a fixed mindset means believing that your qualities are carved in stone. This creates an urgency to prove yourself all the time.
  • People with a fixed mindset expect ability to show up on its own before any learning takes place.
  • Some of us are formed in this mindset from childhood. As soon as children become able to assess themselves, some of them become afraid of challenges. They become afraid of not being smart.

The growth mindset

  • The growth mindset is the belief that abilities can be cultivated through effort. Everyone can change and grow through application and experience.
  • This is the mindset that allows people to succeed during challenging times.
  • People with a growth mindset seek challenge; the bigger the challenge, the more they stretch. For them, even geniuses have to work hard for their achievements.

The growth mindset and change

The growth mindset shows that people can change, but it doesn’t tell you how much change is possible or how long change will take.

The growth mindset also doesn’t mean everything that can be changed should be changed. We all need to accept some of our imperfections, especially the ones that don’t really harm our lives or the lives of others.

Mindsets in relationships

People with a fixed mindset usually say the ideal partner would:

  • Put them on a pedestal.
  • Make them feel perfect.
  • Worship them.

People with the growth mindset hope their ideal partner is someone who would:

  • See their faults and help them to work on them.
  • Challenge them to become a better person.
  • Encourage them to learn new things.

Having “potential”

  • The fixed mindset says that tests or experts can tell us what our potential is, what we’re capable of, what our future will be: you can simply measure the fixed ability right now and project it into the future.
  • The idea that one evaluation can measure you forever is what creates urgency for those with a fixed mindset: they must succeed perfectly and immediately.
  • But many of the most accomplished people of our era were considered by experts to have no future.

The fixed mindset and entitlement

When people with a fixed mindset usually try to prove that they’re special. The problem is when special begins to mean better than others.

People who believe in fixed traits feel an urgency to succeed, and when they do succeed, they feel and display a sense of superiority because their victory means that they (and their traits) are better than the rest of the people.

Mindsets and failure

  • For the fixed mindset, failure is transformed from an action (I failed) to an identity (I am a failure). For people with this mindset, failure can define them in a permanent way. And they might try to repair their self-esteem by assigning blame or making excuses.
  • Failure can be a painful experience for the growth mindset too. But it doesn’t define people. It’s a problem to be faced, dealt with, and learned from.

Effort is terrifying for the fixed mindset

From the point of view of the fixed mindset, effort is only for people with deficiencies. Needing it casts a shadow on your ability.

Effort also leaves you with no excuses. Without effort, you can always say, “I could have been …” But once you try, you can’t say that anymore.

How to grow your mindset

  • For the rest of your life, seek constructive criticism, even when you’re tempted to create a world in which you’re perfect.
  • Is there something in your past that you think measured you? A test score, being fired from a job or being rejected? Focus on that thing and feel all the emotions that go with it.
  • Look honestly at your role in it, but understand that it doesn’t define your intelligence or personality.
  • Next time you feel low, put yourself in a growth mindset: think about learning, challenge, confronting obstacles.
  • See effort as something positive.
  • Is there something you’ve always wanted to do but were afraid you weren’t good at? Make a plan to do it.

“Reading without action is like filling a menu with delicious food and never taking a bite.” – Dr. Wayne Dyer.