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on December 23, 2016
I was looking forward to reading this for months, and had a mixed reaction when I finally did. The book is valuable for its conceit: that there are two types of mind-sets; the growth and the fixed. The growth is the one to have if you want to thrive in life, career, relationships, etc. People are formed early on into one mindset or the other, but can change to the valuable growth mindset if they put themselves to the task. This is incredibly important and the book's value stands on this assertion alone. All of this can be summed up in a single chapter, or a scientific paper tweaked for the lay reader. The problem is that this argument is stretched thin to become a "book" and Dweck's writing doesn't maintain enough interest on its own and is often clunky, sentimental and obvious at times. I'm sure this happens a lot when a notable scientist, psychologist, etc is given a book deal and needs to expand it to justify a full-length book when something shorter would suffice to most readers (exceptions are brilliant writers like Daniel Kahneman and Daniel Gilbert, etc). So Midset is a mixed bag. The real gift here is the conceit. Read it because it has value. It's an informational book, but not a great book.
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on December 25, 2014
I first came across the author in a TED video. Her talk about how "not yet" generates far more power than "fail" was interesting and I decided to buy her book to further read into her studies. The book in general is an interesting piece of work. I like the way she describes the "growth mindset". However, most of the book seems to focus on discussing the difference between "fixed mindset" and "growth mindset" applied to different fields. So it does get very predictable and tedious. There is far not enough discussion about how to better develop the "growth mindset". It is like the author uses the entire book to emphasize how important "growth mindset" is but doesn't really offer much help. In particular, I don't like how she attributes every corporate failure to "fixed mindset". I think it is way too generalizing and over-simplifying.
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on April 11, 2017
Knowing can change a belief, and changing a belief can change behaviour. Changing behaviour can change your career trajectory. Stanford professor of psychology, Carol Dweck has a view of human development that may well lead to behaviour change and a career boost.
Dweck’s insight has its origin in a curious behaviour she noticed in children. When given puzzles, some chose easy ones, which ensured they succeeded. Others chose to do difficult ones, which meant they had a good chance of failing. “Not only weren’t they discouraged by failure, they didn’t even think they were failing. They thought they were learning.”
From this she concluded that people possess two fundamental mindsets – a “fixed” mindset and a “growth” mindset.
The fixed mindset believes that one’s abilities are a fact of birth and are unchangeable. Just as you are born with a certain eye-colour, so you are born with a certain brain strength. Your IQ is fixed and can be seen from your grade one IQ score. From then on, you are locked into an ability set. There are some who through sheer hard work can overcome their minimal ability, while others achieve as much with no effort. Having to work hard to achieve is a sign of limited ability.
Not only is this understanding incorrect, Prof Dweck explains, but the consequences of this fixed view of ability is the root cause of many problems in learning, relationships and career.
Alfred Binet designed his IQ test in the early 20th century. His purpose was to identify children who were not profiting from the Paris public schools, so that new educational programmes could be developed to assist them. Far from believing one’s IQ was fixed, he believed that education and practice could make profound changes to intelligence. His view that intelligence can be grown has been bolstered by the work of neuroscientists such as Gilbert Gottlieb, who has shown that not only “do genes and environment cooperate as we develop, but genes require input from the environment to work properly.”
Robert Sternberg, the present-day guru of intelligence, holds that the primary factor in whether people achieve expertise “is not some fixed prior ability, but purposeful engagement.” In fact, scientists are learning that people have more capacity for lifelong learning and brain development than was ever thought.
What does all this imply?
Believing that your qualities are carved in stone - Dweck’s “fixed” mindset - leaves people with the all-consuming goal of proving themselves in the classroom, and in their careers. If a person was told they were smart in primary school, they tend to spend the rest of their lives trying to convince themselves and others of this. If they were told they were not smart, they are either condemned to mediocrity or to hiding their limitations.
The “growth” mindset is based on the well-proven fact that one’s basic qualities are cultivated through effort. Everyone changes and grows through application and experience.
Can anyone with proper motivation or education can become Einstein or Beethoven? No, but the growth mindset believes that a person’s true potential is unknown and unknowable. Darwin and Tolstoy were considered ordinary as children. Golfing great, Ben Hogan, was completely uncoordinated and graceless as a child. Geraldine Page, eight-time Academy Award nominee and Best actress Oscar winner was advised to give up acting for lack of talent. Ditto for Jackson Pollock, Marcel Proust, and Ray Charles.
The erroneous fixed mindset view holds that if at first you don’t succeed, you probably don’t have the ability. If Rome wasn’t built in a day, maybe it wasn’t meant to be.
What are the career implications of this fixed and growth mindset?
In the brain-wave lab at Columbia, students with a fixed mindset paid close attention only to whether their answers were right or wrong. When they were presented with information that could help them learn, there was no sign of interest as indicated from brain-wave activity. When they were shown that their answers were wrong, they were not interested in learning what the right answer was.
In the world of work the fixed mindset “intelligent” to spend most of their efforts showing they are special and entitled. Having to make an effort and learn is for those who are “less intelligent.”
This leads to the what Dweck calls the “CEO disease.” Rather than confronting their shortcomings these CEOs create a world where they have none. They surround themselves with worshippers, and exile critics. Some choose short-term strategies that boost the company’s fortunes, and make themselves look like heroes, rather than working for long-term improvement and risking disapproval, as they lay the foundation for the health and growth of the company in the future.
Lou Gerstner, a growth mindsetter, was brought in to turn IBM around. As he worked on the enormous task of overhauling IBM, its share price was stagnant and Wall Street disappointed. Gerstner was called a failure. A few years later, however, IBM was leading its industry again.
Darwin Smith, reflecting on his extraordinary performance at Kimberly-Clark, said that he had “never stopped trying to be qualified for the job.”
When NASA solicits applications for astronauts, they reject people with unblemished records of success, and instead select people who have had significant failures, and bounced back.
Jack Welch, the celebrated CEO of General Electric, chose executives on the basis of “runway,” their capacity for growth.
If you are ‘special’ when you are successful, what are you when you’re unsuccessful? In the fixed mindset, the loss of one’s self-esteem to failure can be a permanent, haunting trauma. Even with a growth mindset, failure is a painful experience, but it does not define the person. It’s a problem to be faced, dealt with, and learned from.
Dweck reports a study of seventh-graders’ responses to academic failure. Those with a growth mindset, (no surprise,) said they would study harder for the next test. Those with the fixed mindset said they would study less for the next test. If you don’t have the ability, why waste your time?
A study of university students showed that the more depressed those with a growth mindset felt, the more they took action to confront their problems. They made sure to keep up with their studies, and keep up with their lives. The worse they felt, the more determined they became!
People with the growth mindset intuitively believe that even geniuses have to work hard for their achievements. Which is factually true.
Mindsets are not a permanent part of one’s personality, but they are an important part and one that can be changed.
“Just by knowing about the two mindsets, you can start thinking and reacting in new ways. People tell me they start to catch themselves when they are in the throes of the fixed mindset—passing up a chance for learning, feeling labelled by a failure, or getting discouraged when something requires a lot of effort. And then they switch themselves into the growth mindset—making sure they take the challenge, learn from the failure, or continue their effort,” Dweck explains.
A very important insight.
Readability Light --+-- Serious
Insights High -+--- Low
Practical High ----+ Low

Ian Mann of Gateways consults internationally on leadership and strategy
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on June 25, 2017
I am an avid reader and will read anything, including cereal books. But, I had to force myself to finish this book. Dweck seems to have done some research and had has some good ideas. But the book itself is very, very repetitive and drags on and on. Read about Dweck's research on line. Skip the book.
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on July 26, 2017
I see a lot of people review this book positively. If readers are getting a lot out of this book, great. But I have to say this book could easily have been an article. It does not deserve a book-length treatment. I read it for a class. I started out with great expectations but found myself paging through the filler to try and find the factual information. The chapter on athletic performance is particularly unenlightening. I think the basic idea is useful but I didn't see how the following discussion was very meaningful.
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on August 5, 2017
This is a very important work because it focuses anew on how people approach and achieve challenge either through a fixed or growth mindset. Actually, there are many books out there that touch upon these concepts, though they use different names for these concepts. Carolyn Dweck however articulates this idea a little differently, even if the concept of mindset is nothing new. Her writing style is very readable and clear. Yet, I did find some of her examples problematic -- sometimes vague, and sometimes inaccurate. She also at times fails to acknowledge how we can achieve a growth mindset when decision makers around us, who are of a fixed mindset, attempt to control how we must operate at the workplace or home, even when we genuinely seek to operate in the growth mindset. I also didn't like how Dweck waited until half way through the book to point out that each of us have aspects of fixed and growth mindsets in us. Throughout the first half I was arguing with her, figuratively speaking, because I thought this was likely. Still despite certain misgivings about how the book was written, I still thought it was a very important work. I found it to be very provocative, as it elicited profound reflection, both personally and professionally in considering how mindset works in both realms.
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on September 19, 2017
I finished reading the book from start to finish and as with many self-help books, it may seem too full of anecdotes and not enough scientific background and strategies for the reader to use. However, I think that together, they help to cover all angles of what the author is conveying. However, I wish that she had analyzed each aspect more equally and gave more deductive reasoning and finished with specific strategies for the reader to use in each scenario.

While she was comparatively very thorough in the parenting and school portions, she breezed through the relationships aspect of life and also the business one to a lesser extent.

Some anecdotes that were given were left hanging with an abrupt "this is not how you do it if you want goal x." Well, then tell me why?! And, how?! Nope, she moves on to a whole new topic with another anecdote and sometimes tiny and generic analysis.

Here seems to be a contradiction... One bigger question among others:
*In terms of competition in relationships, if that scientist woman Cynthia claimed to try to share the life and interests of her partners by performing at her best at what they did, then why was she at fault when her partners were being driven away? Wouldn't that be a problem of them and not her? If she was not being rude, pushy, and boastful about her talents but merely reaching her own potential in subjects that her partners were interested in, wouldn't she be a growth-minded woman with fixed-minded partners? Why just end it with "there are many good ways to support a partner and this is not one of them?"
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on May 17, 2017
I agree with the other reviewers who said that the concept of "fixed" versus "growth" mindset is extremely important, and that the author stretched what should have been an article in "Psychology Today" out into a completely unnecessary book. I kept hoping there were some further insights, and that if I just kept going, I'd find them. But after reading these reviews, it's not just me who's bored to tears. The last straw was the author remembering (incorrectly) that a 1950's-era advice column in called "Can This Marriage Be Saved" appeared in "Reader's Digest." It did not. A little thing, for sure, but glaring mistakes or "mis-rememberings" make me question the validity of the other stories in the book. I think I'll quit reading now.
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on February 5, 2017
Carol Dweck's book Mindset is quite possibly one of the best books I have read to ready myself for parenting, coaching and life in general. The book is about 250 pages, a relatively quick read, but is jam packed with situations and how the two trained mindsets handle them. Mostly focusing on the Growth Mindset being a positive factor when dealing with life. Anyone who is going to be a parent a teacher a coach or a mentor at work should read this book and allow yourself to appreciate the fine teachings Mrs. Dweck has to offer.
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on April 13, 2018
Like many, I came to this book by enthusiatic recommendations of others. The main driver, the explanation of fixed vs growth mindsets and their real life implications, is covered immediately in chapter 1. What then follows for hundreds of pages are case studies that seek to "prove" the theory. Finally, on page 223, comes a primer on how to make mindset changes. This too is written from a case study perspective, and ultimately leaves the reader at the end of the book feeling like the payoff chapter you've been waiting for never arrived. It all feels a bit like...an infomercial for something outside the book.

The thesis of fixed vs growth IS an interesting topic. The thing is: it's not new. Fixed, pre-determination is otherwise known as "post modernism", and growth-based, self- determination is "existentialism". I find it very ironic that politically unpopular existentialism - the thought that YOU, not your environment are in control of your outcome - has found a rabid new audience under the renamed "growth mindset"! I'll give Ms. Dweck credit for that trick alone.

It's a great idea, but the book itself is a shambles. If you read the first and last chapters, you'll have not missed anything. One star for at least providing the spark of an idea.
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