Wake Up! It’s Book Review Monday – Mindset: The New Psychology of Success


Outside of my mentors and defining moments, books have accelerated my learning both professionally and personally and I truly believe that reading is the single most important thing you can do to better yourself.  In light of this, on Mondays, I will be reviewing a book that has impacted me. 

Today’s book is Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck.

“In a fixed mindset, students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that’s that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset, students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching, and persistence. They don’t necessarily think everyone’s the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.”  – Carol Dweck, Author of “Mindset”


Brief Summary of Mindset:

Carol Dweck states in her book a simple concept. The view you adopt of yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. According to her research, we have two mindsets: Fixed and Growth.

The belief of Fixed Mindset individuals: We were born a certain way, and we remain that way forever. Our personality traits, IQ, and skills cannot change. When something gets hard, they quit. When someone gives them feedback, they deny it.

The belief of Growth Mindset individuals: They view them themselves as always able to learn more and grow. A growth-minded person has an intense desire to learn and looks at challenges as opportunities to grow. They want as much feedback as possible and are always looking for ways to learn. They believe the harder they work, the better they will become.

Things I learned from this book:

  • Mindsets are just beliefs that are powerful but can be changed.
  • Praise effort, not ability. When kids were told they were smarter they started to lie when they did not live up to their potential. They were afraid to fail and show their weakness. If you praise their effort, they will be motivated to work harder and therefore do better.
  • You can reach your potential by developing skills over time with effort.
  • What is referred to as CEO Disease is feeling like you have to be perfect. There is an intense focus on short-term goals rather than long-term goals.

Dweck’s thoughts on Growth Mindset:

  • Growth Mindset is about developing and becoming smarter every day.
  • Those who have a growth mindset focus on people who are doing better than themselves because they know they can learn from those individuals.
  • Growth Mindset finds a deeper meaning, then whether they won or lost. They learn from it. They value the outcome regardless of winning or losing. It is all about giving full effort.
  • Growth Mindset is about wanting to practice and learn every day.

Dweck’s thoughts on Fixed Mindset:

  • Fixed Mindset is about establishing superiority and wanting to perform.
  • Fixed Mindset is the need to constantly try to prove yourself.
  • Fixed Mindset asks questions like “Will I succeed or Fail?” or “Was that a dumb or smart question?”
  • Fixed Mindset blames others and acts externally.
  • Fixed Mindset only enjoys when things are going well and if they do not, they lose interest.
  • People of a fixed mindset try hard just to make sure they succeed. They don’t want to show their weaknesses.
  • Fixed Mindset focuses on people who are doing worse than them so that they can feel better about themselves.

Other learnings I took away:

The idea of how we should all think like babies:

She discusses the idea of how when we were babies we all had a growth mindset. We were absolutely fearless. Every time we fell, we got right back up.  And most importantly, we did whatever it took to learn to walk and talk, which is the hardest thing we will ever do in life. The challenge is that we forget this, and as we grow up we become scared. We doubt ourselves and our abilities.

How to change your mindset no matter who you are:

She breaks up the book into specific sections about athletes, general leadership, love, and parents, teachers, and coaches. I highly recommend that you read the entire book, but if you are short on time you can jump to the section that might fit your needs.

We do not have a  growth mindset for all things:

This is the most important part. She says that there are certain things in life that you just have no desire in, and by default have a fixed mindset towards that specific thing. That is OK. What she is saying is that you have to love or have a ton of passion around something to use your growth mindset. If someone does not like something they are not likely to exhibit a growth mindset towards it.

Real life examples of a fixed and growth mindset:

Here is an example directly from her book of a professional who has a fixed mindset at work:

‘“Here I am,” you think.  “In this low-level job. It’s demeaning. With my talent, I shouldn’t have to work like this. I should be up there with the big boys, enjoying the good life.” Your boss thinks you have a bad attitude. When she needs someone to take on more responsibilities, she doesn’t turn to you. When a promotion comes up, you don’t get considered.

Fixed Mindset Reaction:

“Shes threatened by me,” you say bitterly. Your fixed mindset is telling you that, because of who you are, you should automatically be thrust into the upper levels of the business. In your mind, people should see your talents and reward you. When they don’t it’s not fair. Why should you change? You just want your due.

Growth Mindset Reaction:

You consider the idea that some people stand out because of their commitment and effort. Little by little, you try putting more effort into things and seeing if you get more of the rewards you wanted. You quickly realize that effort was the key.

Instead of seeing your discussions with your colleagues as time spent getting what you want, you begin to grasp the idea of building relationships or even helping your colleagues develop in ways they value.’

How has this book impacted me?

My dad has told me something for as far back as I can remember: “Jeff, you don’t have to be the smartest person in the room, just work the hardest.” While reading this book, I realized that what he told me was not just my dad being a dad- it was actually a proven truth.

Even though I am a highly motivated person by nature, I went to another level after reading this book because it taught me that if I just focus on putting in the effort, I can and will succeed.

Hopefully, this review gave you more insight into mindsets and why I believe so strongly in the content you see and will continue to find on my site. To continue the conversation, I will be posting on Friday about the first step in building your mindset: Perceiving yourself as someone who can achieve anything.

Now, WAKEUP! It’s Day One. It’s time to purchase and read Mindset: The New Psychology of Success today!

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