Mindset is one of the books I recommend to my clients and has been transformational for me as well. I’ve included it as one of my top recommended resources. Below is a summary of ideas Dr. Dweck shares and lessons I learned.
In her book Mindset, Carol Dweck, Ph.D. gives insight into her research on a fixed versus growth mindset. Someone with a fixed mindset believes that her intelligence is fixed (like a wooden block). The intelligence she has cannot be increased or re-shaped. Rather, someone with the growth mindset believes that intelligence is a trait that with nurturing can grow and develop (like a plant). The growth mindset believes that challenges and struggle are a natural part of learning and development; not only are they necessary, but they are a required part of the process. “Mindset change is not about picking up a few pointers here and there. It’s about seeing things in a new way.”
A fixed mindset believes your intelligence is basic and it cannot be significantly changed. A growth mindset believes people can develop their abilities. The growth mindset reminds me of Shinichi Suzuki, who believed that ability is not inborn, but it can be developed and enhanced. Benjamin Bloom said, “What any person in the world can learn, almost all persons can learn, if provided with the appropriate prior and current conditions of learning.” Skills can be learned and improved with effort, good strategy and mentoring. “…Nobody laughs at babies and says how dumb they are because they can’t talk – they just haven’t learned yet.” It impacted me to recognize that we all have some areas where we have a fixed mindset and some areas where we embrace the growth mindset because we are human. We are not all one or the other. This was an eye-opening book on the psychology of success!
Growth mindset and the importance in business: Andrew Carnegie once said, “I wish to have as my epitaph: ‘Here lies a man who was wise enough to bring into his service men who knew more than he.’” True leaders know the importance of a great team and surround themselves with individuals who have strengths in the areas the leader is weak. That is how great teams work. If you have ever worked for a leader with a fixed mindset, you’ve seen the opposite. The fixed mindset leader wants a team that is less than he or she, a team that does not challenge, but is agreeable, and a team that sees the leader as the hero. Leaders with the growth mindset have a vision and invite their team into it while investing in their individual and aggregate potential. A friend of mine often says to “be the dumbest person in the room” because he believes that we become like those we surround ourselves with and there is so much we can learn from others. It takes a growth mindset to invite ourselves to learn from others.
Growth mindset and the importance in parenting: The first step to change is simply noticing. When I started reading this book, I felt like I had a pretty solid growth mindset. I love to learn and I believe in the power of potential – that is why I coach. However, as I read, I started noticing areas in my life where I had a fixed mindset. Then I started noticing it in my children. Had I passed that on to them? How is it possible that I see their potential and they don’t? As humans, we have a combination of fixed/growth mindsets; it is natural. Noticing our fixed mindsets can be catalyst to change. Helping our children see their own potential and that growth is possible in all areas of life is our greatest challenge and calling as parents. Most of our impact on our children is through observation. They hear what we say, but on a much larger scale, they see what we do and how we act and react. We can and should show them where we struggle so they can learn from us.