Release year: 2016

Author: Carol S. Dweck

Link to my handwritten notes

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Mindset is a modern classic when it comes to self-help books. Its core idea is simple: our way of thinking is a mixture of two basic mindsets: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. Obviously, the growth mindset is the one we want, since growing allows us to reach new heights.

The book is essentially a tour across all the aspects around the dichotomy between the fixed and growth mindsets, starting with its discovery by the author and collaborators. It then proceeds to show us the consequences of each mindsets in different spheres of life, such as parenting, business, school, relationships and sports, as the cover suggests. Finally, it lays down a “recipe” for building a growth mindset in ourselves or our protégés (e.g. children) that involves seeking opportunities for learning and how to enact a plan.

I felt like the author was often repeating herself when it came to explaining the effect of mindset in each area of human life. Once you get the idea that growth mindset is the key, it was often tempting for me to skip a few paragraphs, thinking “yes, yes, of course, people with the growth mindset reap all the rewards.” There is no denying however how truly deep the impacts of mindset can be. I feel like I have gone through a transformation of mindset myself and captured it when I wrote my Overcoming Learning Anxiety post. If you find yourself stuck in a fixed mindset, working towards building your growth mindset might be the most crucial step towards significantly improving your enjoyment of life. Believe me, it’s worth it!

One notion buried at the end of the book that I found particularly interesting is the “false growth mindset.” Apparently, after the first edition of this book was published, a misunderstanding of the core concept began spreading, and people eager to build the growth mindset in their children starting praising effort over progress. For example, if a child fails a test after studying very hard, some parents would give praise for studying hard, without acknowledging the failure. There is a fine line here: what we should do is recognize the effort, acknowledge the failure, and help the student recognize that despite failing, their effort allowed them to make significant progress.

In summary, I think the core concept of Mindset is useful to understand why some people settle for mediocrity and why some people demonstrate grit despite difficult circumstances. Check it out!

Félix rating:

⭐ Star quotes:

  1. (p. 11) Exceptional individuals have a special talent for identifying their strengths and weaknesses.
  2. (p. 16) “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.
  3. (p. 21) When you’re lying on your deathbed, one of the cool things to say is, “I really explored myself.” If you only go through life doing stuff that’s easy, shame on you.
  4. (p. 24) “I’ll never forget the first time I heard myself say, ‘This is hard. This is fun.’ That’s the moment I knew I was changing mindsets.
  5. (p. 25) Becoming is better than being.
  6. (p. 37) You aren’t a failure until you start to blame.
  7. (p. 41) No matter what your ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.
  8. (p. 42) Nothing is harder than saying, “I gave it my all and it wasn’t good enough.”
  9. (p. 52) “My defects are things I can work on!”
  10. (p. 99) After every game or practice, if you walk off the field knowing that you gave everything you had, you will always be a winner.
  11. (p. 127) True self-confidence is the courage to be open, to welcome change and new ideas regardless of their source.
  12. (p. 127) If we’re managing good people who are clearly eating themselves up over an error, our job is to help them through it.
  13. (p. 130) Attack elitism.
  14. (p. 137) ⭐ With the right kinds of feedback even adults can be motivated to choose challenging tasks and confront their mistakes.
  15. (p. 137) Instead of just giving employees an award for the smartest idea or praise for a brilliant performance, give them praise for:
    • taking initiative
    • seeing a difficult task through
    • struggling and learning something new
    • being undaunted by a setback
    • being open to acting on criticism
    • not needing constant praise!
  16. (p. 137) If businesses don’t play a role in developing a mature and growth-minded workforce, where will the leaders of the future come from?
  17. (p. 141) Everyone, of whatever age and circumstance, is capable of self-transformation.
  18. (p. 148) “Tout comprendre, c’est tout pardonner.” (To understand all is to forgive all)
    • Note that this can be carried too far, but it’s a good place to start.
  19. (p. 153) Mind reading instead of communicating inevitably backfires.
  20. (p. 155) There is no “they lived happily ever after,” it’s more like “they worked happily ever after.”
  21. (p. 163) The whole point of marriage is to encourage your partner’s development and have them encourage yours.
  22. (p. 166) Shy people worry that others will bring them down.
  23. (p. 166) Shyness harms the social interactions of people with the fixed mindset but does not harm the social relations of people with the growth mindset.
  24. (p. 179) The best thing parents can do is teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, seek new strategies, and keep on learning.
  25. (p. 180) Praise the work put in.
  26. (p. 182) What we should say when children complete a task (e.g. a math problem) quickly and perfectly is: “Whoops. I guess that was too easy. I apologize for wasting your time. Let’s do something you can really learn from.”
  27. (p. 189) ⭐ Don’t judge. Teach. It’s a learning process.
  28. (p. 210) You have to apply yourself each day to becoming a little better. By applying yourself to the task of becoming a little better each and every day over a period of time, you will become a lot better.
  29. (p. 210) “Did I win? Did I lose?” Those are the wrong questions. The correct question is: Did I make my best effort? If so, you may be outscored but you will never lose.
  30. (p. 216) If a student has tried hard and made little or not progress, we can of course appreciate their effort, but we should never be content with effort that is yielding no benefits.
    • We need to figure out why an effort is not effective and guide kids toward other strategies and resources that can help them resume learning.
  31. (p. 217) We as educators must take seriously our responsibility to create growth-mindset-friendly environments, where people:
    • feel safe from judgement
    • understand that we believe in their potential to grow
    • know that we are totally dedicated to collaborating with them on their learning
  32. (p. 217) In truth, we’re all a mixture of growth mindset and fixed mindset. Sometimes we’re in one mindset and sometimes we’re in the other. Our task is to understand what triggers our fixed mindset.
  33. (p. 222) Having innate talent is not a goal. Expanding skills and knowledge is.
  34. (p. 229) ⭐ Nobody gets used to feeling dumb.
  35. (p. 235) It’s not easy to just let go of something that has felt like your “self” for many years and that has given you your route to self-esteem.
  36. (p. 242) Many people with the fixed mindset understand that their cloak of specialness was really a suit of armor they built to feel safe, strong, and worthy. While it may have protected them early on, later it constricted their growth, sent them into self-defeating battles, and cut them off from satisfying, mutual relationships.
  37. (p. 248) Learn to separate your needs and desires from your children. For example, you may have “needed” a daughter who was number one in everything, but your daughter needed something else: acceptance from your parents and freedom yo grow.
  38. (p. 254) When people change to a growth mindset, they change from a judge-and-be-judged framework to a learn-and-help-learn framework.
  39. (p. 262) Daily questions:
    • What are the opportunities for learning and growth today?
      • For myself?
      • For the people around me?
    • As you think of opportunities, form a plan. “When, where and how will I embark on my plan?”
    • As you encounter the inevitable obstacles and setbacks, form a new plan. “When, where and how will I act on my new plan?”
    • When you succeed, ask yourself: “What do I have to do to maintain and continue the growth?”
  40. (p. 263) Nigel Holmes' Fixed vs. Growth mindset diagram

C’est la tête qui décide! -Rémi