“Mindset” by Carol Dweck

Honestly, this book disappointed me. I don’t know if it’s the author’s writing style, but in the end I felt that from beginning to end each chapter was just a repeat of the one before it. Predictable sums it up. However, I wholeheartedly agree with the concept of there being two very distinct mindsets: the growth mindset and the fixed mindset. Books like “Leaders Eat Last” and “The Upside of Down” clearly demonstrate the power in learning from our mistakes and adhering to the growth mindset. While I didn’t enjoy the book as a whole, I still find power in some of the following concepts and excerpts:

  1. The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.
  2. Believing that your qualities are carved in stone—the fixed mindset—creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character—well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.
  3. The growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way—in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments—everyone can change and grow through application and experience.
  4. The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset.
  5. John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach, says you aren’t a failure until you start to blame. What he means is that you can still be in the process of learning from your mistakes until you deny them.
  6. When people believe that their basic qualities can be developed, failures may still hurt, but failures don’t define them. And if abilities can be expanded—if change and growth are possible—then there are still many paths to success.
  7. From Good to Great: one attribute that was absolutely key was the type of leader who in every case led the company into greatness. These were not the larger-than-life, charismatic types who oozed ego and self-proclaimed talent. They were self-effacing people who constantly asked questions and had the ability to confront the most brutal answers—that is, to look failures in the face, even their own, while maintaining faith that they would succeed in the end.
  8. True self-confidence is “the courage to be open—to welcome change and new ideas regardless of their source.” Real self-confidence is not reflected in a title, an expensive suit, a fancy car, or a series of acquisitions. It is reflected in your mindset: your readiness to grow.
  9. If managing good people who are clearly eating themselves up over an error, our job is to help them through it.
  10. When they first become managers, they enter a period of great learning. They get lots of training and coaching, they are open to ideas, and they think long and hard about how to do their jobs. They are looking to develop. But once they’ve learned the basics, they stop trying to improve. It may seem like too much trouble, or they may not see where improvement will take them. They are content to do their jobs rather than making themselves into leaders.
  11. Praising children’s intelligence harms their motivation and it harms their performance. (See much more about this in “Nurture Shock”)
  12. Skills and achievement come through commitment and effort.
  13. “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.”
  14. Every day people plan to do difficult things, but they don’t do them. They think, “I’ll do it tomorrow,” and they swear to themselves that they’ll follow through the next day. Research by Peter Gollwitzer and his colleagues shows that vowing, even intense vowing, is often useless. The next day comes and the next day goes. What works is making a vivid, concrete plan.
  15. These concrete plans—plans you can visualize—about when, where, and how you are going to do something lead to really high levels of follow-through, which, of course, ups the chances of success.
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