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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 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 October 29, 2016
I've read several self help books and by far, this one is the least engaging, uninteresting, basic and boring book. It goes round and round with the same idea of a fixed mindset vs growth mindset without setting concrete examples and plan to shift from one to another. Complete waste of time, forget money. Read something better like Mark Manson's How not to give a f@ck about anything or something like that..
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on November 14, 2015
I agree with many of the negative reviews. This book came highly recommended by one of the academia in our community. I bought the book immediately. The first chapter was the read where it all makes sense. I couldn't believe how much in agreement I was feeling. Then, as the second and third chapter waned on. I felt like I was at a cocktail party chatting with a girl that went on and on about her first and only point. The examples and cites were casual and the connections were amateur at best. I couldn't stay with it. My everyday life is a better read than that.
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on July 24, 2015
I really resonated with this book because I’ve never been naturally good at sports or academics; but through goal setting, hard work, and constant study, I’ve managed to become successful.

Teachers scorned me for being a terrible writer, but through persistence and study, I’ve become a half-decent writer.

From Mindset, you’ll learn why an endless challenge-seeking learning style is the key to growth in any realm or stage of life.

I think Mindset is a must-read for everyone, but especially for parents, teachers, coaches, managers, and leaders. Carol shares her research about a fixed versus growth mindset and how the former can be disastrous for people who lead others.

You’ll learn why successful teachers, business leaders, and coaches praise effort and curiosity over ability and talent. They’ve learned that when we, often mistakenly, praise abilities and talents above other aptitudes, it can backfire.

Carol provides examples of many athletes who failed because they relied on their talent to carry them through, and why the most successful athletes throughout the history of sports have succeeded because they grew better through persistence and constant practice.
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on March 22, 2016
This book, which was recommended to me, was not very impressive.

It is extraordinarily repetitive and relies a great deal on anecdotal evidence, some of which has been called into question. For example, Marva Collins, a supposed miracle-worker inner city teacher, is mentioned several times. This ignores the fact that Collins's results supposedly stem from one hype-filled article that was picked up by other lazy reporters. Her results are in doubt. (The link to the article attached in support was deleted by Amazon. Google "Marva Collins" and "Chicago Sun Times".) As someone else here mentioned, her examples involving Tiger Woods and Malcolm Gladwell are questionable. It often seems as though she cherry picks successful people in the news without any real information about how they actually attained their success.

The author uses herself as an example much more than I find convincing or interesting. She seems not to realize that others may not see things her way. She recounts advice she gave her cousin as a youngster which is supposed to show her destiny as a psychologist when she seems like a youthful manipulator. She tells a story about a gaffe in a drugstore as to which her husband thought others were overreacting. I, however, understood why the other customers were upset. She quotes gushing notes of thanks from students that are terribly written notwithstanding that they are students at Columbia, which is supposed to be a top college. They also obviously are extremely self-serving.

She says that she has no idea if certain talents are inborn or can be developed. Apparently, pursuit of a "growth mindset" regardless of whether it actually has an impact is to be viewed as a good in itself.

Finally, she never addresses the most difficult cases that are bound to come up. What if you use the growth mindset, work extremely hard,and still fail?
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on January 6, 2013
Mindset was highly recommended by a good friend of mine. Unfortunately, I was disappointed in the book. Not by how it is written... it is pretty well written and contains lots of short stories to make the message of the author concrete. Yet, the message feels a bit simplistic to me, a bit too black/white and that same message was repeated over and over again.

"Mindset" suggests that there are two types of mindsets: a fixed one and a growth mindset. For most people, one of these mindsets is the strongest and it will influence how they see their life and how they react to events. Fixed mindset people believe that people are the way they are and won't change. Therefore failure will be seen as an failure of themselves and react defensively. People with a growth mindset believe people change and learn and failure will be seen as an opportunity for improving...

The book contains 8 chapters. Some are pretty good, some are, in my opinion, rather poor. The first three chapters sort-of contain the basic message, the introduction of the mindsets and how they change the meaning of failure and effort. It also talks about how these mindsets get created in the environment of people, which is one of the most interesting aspects of the book. One of the most insightful parts of the book relate to the effect of praising children and how that can have a negative effect. I'd recommend everyone to read the first three chapters and then perhaps stop or switch to the last chapter.

Chapter 4 to 6 contain examples and effects of the two mindsets in three different environments: 4) sports, 5) business, and 6) relationships. These chapters mainly contain stories which the author uses to contrast the two mindsets to each other and to show how people act and react differently based on the different mindsets. I had trouble getting through these chapters, wasn't impressed with them.

The last two chapters are kind-of interesting again. Chapter 7 talks about the mindsets to parents, teachers and coaches and how they create one of the two mindsets on their students and children. The last chapter in the typical "action" chapter of a book which gives tips on how you can change your mindset (from a fixed to a growth mindset).

I found the book interesting, yet simplistic. It simplifies the world into two categories: 1) fixed, and 2) growth. (I kept wondering why there aren't more, such as 3) Not care). Then it continues the simplification by basically stating that fixed is bad and growth is good. So therefore, people who want to be successful need to change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. This (simplistic) view does make the book very powerful and lets the main message come through strongly (which is probably why it had gotten excellent ratings), it did annoy me at times.

In conclusion. The book is easy to read and written pretty well. The message is kind-of important (people need to keep growing and improving). Yet, the book didn't impress me and at times annoyed me. Therefore, I'll only stick to three stars. Sometimes recommended.
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on March 5, 2016
Love this book! Lots of insights and it makes sense. How tightly do we cling to our ideas about life? About ourselves? Can people change or not? How do we react to failure-- devastation or just a part of normal living? Reading this is changing much about my way of thinking. The author started life with a static, limiting understanding of herself and life. In studying various people in her career as a psychologist, she began to see that people respond to negative things in one of two ways: with despair or with hope. She explains how we get these mindsets and how we can grow if we choose to. Really life-changing.
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on June 26, 2016
Extremely repetitive - used different examples to repeat the same message countless times. A test of my patience; almost an insult to my intelligence.
Read like a high school essay, with content equivalent to that of a child's storybook.
Misleading to name it "the new psychology of success" - it is neither new, nor profound, nor legitimately scientific enough to be associated with the field of psychology.
Read any of the other previously posted two star ratings, most of them are quite accurate and have the added bonus of the eloquence I would have actually liked to see in this book.
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on June 27, 2015
"Mindset" is a quintessentially American book. Only Americans are so obsessed with success and self-improvement that they would demand that the magical complexity of life be reduced and broken down into a bottle of pills for them to buy over the counter and swallow everyday. In this book, Carol Dweck does offer a magic bottle of pills that she can hawk on Oprah.

So how do you succeed in life? According to Carol Dweck, there are two mindsets that people can use to perceive and react to the world around them. They could use a "fixed" mindset, meaning that they're insecure, passive, and indifferent. Or they could use a "growth" mindset, meaning they're optimistic, upbeat, and always strive for self-improvement.

There are two major problems with this book. First, it's far too simplistic, too literally black and white. Second, it ignores the socio-economic factors that bear down on the lives of ordinary people. And it's precisely because this book has two problems that has made it into such a hot best-seller in America.

Reading this book I cannot help but think of George W. Bush's reaction to a woman who told her that she had to work three jobs to just pay the bills. The woman was just trying to convey to the President how difficult it is to get by in the American marketplace, where everything favors the rich and powerful. The President glibly complimented on the woman's attitude -- she had a "growth" mindset, according to the President.

To just say that success in life just comes down to attitude and work ethic is glib to the point of dumb and stupid.

Reading this
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