This book is a must-read for anyone passionate about self-improvementThis book is a must-read for anyone passionate about self-improvement
I was first introduced to the realm of cognitive psychology 11 years ago. Back then, I came across a book called “The Game” by Neil Strauss, and it completely blew my mind. I was convinced that confidence is a function of how we perceive ourselves. This belief was instrumental in building my self-confidence over the next few years. Fast-forward to today, I learnt that this was the “growth mindset” at work. This newfound understanding completely changed how I approached challenges, and I’m super excited to share with more about it below!
Introducing: Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset
The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.
Dr Carol Dweck describes two different types of mindsets that influence the way we overcome challenges: The Growth Mindset and the Fixed Mindset. In a nutshell, people with a growth mindset believe that their qualities can be developed over time. Conversely, those with a fixed mindset think that their potential is static and finite.
In her research, Dr Dweck highlights that the mindsets we have can be influenced by the way we are appraised. Let’s hear from her more about this in an interview she did with Khan Academy.
Throughout the book, Dr Dweck illustrates the influence of the two mindsets on many different types of people with real-life examples. These range from athletes, teachers and business managers to romantic partners, friends and family. Although it might feel repetitive, it certainly does give a sense of assurance that this is a wide-ranging phenomenon.
The Growth Mindset encourages growth and development
The biggest takeaway for me was that the growth mindset reframes challenges and setbacks into opportunities for learning and improvement. The story of Michael Jorden is a classic example – When he was cut from the varsity team, he woke up early to work on his weaknesses before school; when his varsity team later lost the last game of the season, he went back to practice his shots for the next season. Even at the height of his career, he never stopped hustling.
By embracing the growth mindset, it makes us more mindful on the process instead of the result. As we evaluate our performance from time to time, we are always looking out for areas to get better at. If you’ll like to cultivate this mindset, try asking yourself these questions whenever you encounter a challenge or a setback:
- What can I learn from this?
- Are there any areas that I can improve upon?
- What will be the one thing that I could change to make things better?
In the other camp, those fixed mindsets tend to over-index on results. To them, it is more important to look superior than actually working to become superior. If left unchecked, this can cultivate a sense of entitlement and an unhealthy tendency to put others down just to feel better about themselves. To quote Dr Dweck, “The lower you are, the better I feel is the idea.”
Changing mindsets involve changing the internal monologue in our minds
[Mindsets] guide the whole interpretation process.
Fundamentally, the things we tell ourselves in our minds has a powerful influence over our actions. According to Dr Dweck, “the fixed mindset creates an internal monologue of judging”. To me, there is no room for development in this binary classification; you either have it or you don’t.
On the flip side, the thoughts inside the minds of those with growth mindsets are often more optimistic and growth-oriented. As mentioned earlier, it’s all about learning and development. With the emphasis on the process instead of the results, I’ll even go so far as to say that it breeds a “fail-forward” mentality. In other words, it’s ok to fail, as long as we learn something from it.
How do you know if this book can help you?
Truthfully, I feel that this book is extremely relevant for anyone willing to work on themselves. Regardless of your profession or background, this is a great book about introspection and mindfulness.
That said, this book will also be particularly useful for parents, teachers and coaches. These are noble professions who are responsible for building and shaping the mental tenacity of the people under their charge. As such, they will need to be able to embrace the growth mindset themselves before they can serve as role models for others.
To me, this book was a massive game-changer. Dr Dweck had clearly demonstrated that having the appropriate mindset can go a long way to help us achieve our goals. It also further strengthened my belief that personal development is all about the process, not the destination.
There are many videos on YouTube on this topic, including her famous Ted Talk presentation entitled “The Power of Yet”. However, I strongly recommend that you get a copy of the book as it goes deep into the concepts. This review is based on an older version of the text. In the foreseeable future, I’ll get the updated version of the book from Amazon to read it again as it has additional content.
Share your thoughts with me!
If you’ve read “Mindset“, I’d love to hear your thoughts on the book. Drop a comment below, or share this post with your friends with the tag @kopi.thoughts!