Mindset: Summary Review & Takeaways

This is a summary review of Mindset containing key details about the book.

What is Mindset About?

Mindset shows how success (in school, work, sports, the arts, and almost every area of human endeavor) can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities. The main idea is that people with a fixed mindset—those who believe that abilities are fixed—are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset—those who believe that abilities can be developed.

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Who is the Author of Mindset?

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., is widely regarded as one of the world's leading researchers in the fields of personality, social psychology, and developmental psychology. Her work has been featured in such publications as The New Yorker, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe, and she has appeared on Today and 20/20.

What are the main summary points of Mindset?

Here are some key summary points from the book:

  • Success comes from having the right mindset rather than intelligence, talent or education. Adopting a growth mindset versus a fixed mindset can make huge differences to our careers and lives.
  • A fixed mindset: Believing that intelligence is fixed and static.
  • A growth mindset: Believing that intelligence and talents can be improved through effort and learning. “It’s not always the people who start out the smartest who end up the smartest.”
  • Those who adopt a growth mindset are more likely to:
    - Willingly embraces challenges
    - Embrace lifelong learning
    - Believe intelligence can be improved
    - Believe failures are just temporary setbacks
    - View feedback as a source of information and an opportunity to learn
    - Find inspiration in others success
    - Look for people who challenge them to grow
    - Focus on the process and learning without worrying much about the outcome
  • Those who adopt a fixed mindset are more likely to:
    - Believe intelligence and talent are static
    - Run from error and avoid challenges to avoid failure
    - Ignore feedback from others and view it as personal criticism.
    - Feel jealous or threatened by the success of others
    - Hide flaws so as not to be judged by others
    - Focus solely on the outcome since it communicates their identity
    - Tend to create a need for approval
  • Anyone can adopt a growth mindset. Our brain is just another muscle in our body. In order to adopt a more growth mindset, be conscious of how you speak to yourself (and others) and notice when you use a fixed mindset vocabulary.
  • True 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 openness and readiness to grow. Confident people and high achievers are relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.
  • Letting go of outcome when the pursuit is meaningful. A growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome. “Maybe they haven’t found the cure for cancer, but the search was deeply meaningful.”
  • The top is where the fixed-mindset people hunger to be, but it’s where many growth-minded people arrive as a by-product of their enthusiasm for what they do. “Did I win? Did I lose?” are the wrong questions. The correct questions are: “Did I make my best effort?, Did I learn?”
  • Teams that promote and foster a growth mindset tend to be more collaborative, empowered and committed.
  • Keys for fostering a growth mindset:
    - Praising our attempts, not our outcomes
    - Getting excited about challenges, not avoiding them
    - Enjoying unfamiliar situations

What are key takeaways from Mindset?

Takeaway #1 Fixed Mindset or Growth Mindset?

Our mindset plays a key role in how we see ourselves and usually determines whether we can achieve something or not.

People with a fixed mindset beleive they are naturally gifted at some things but incapable at doing others I.e. a musician or artist who is no good with numbers or a scientist who says he doesn't have an artistic bone in his body. People with this black or white mindset often let this stop their development, they're 'set in their ways' believing that old dogs cannot learn new tricks and seek approval from others whilst avoiding difficulties. They hope for everlasting love rather than working on their relationships as well as on themselves.

People with a growth mindset believe they can be and have anything they put their mind to so long as they work hard enough for it. They continue to acquire new skills throughout their life and see problems as challenges to overcome not to stop them in their tracks. They actively engage in their relationships to improve them, knowing that life is constantly changing, encouraging their partner to work on themselves whilst they also work on their own self-development.

Takeaway #2 Our Mindset Is Influenced In Childhood

Our mindset begins at birth but is shaped by those around us – Just think, what mindset did your parents have and other influential people in your life such as teachers?

Babies and toddlers have a growth mindset, they want to learn and grow every day. But whether this growth mindset continues or becomes a fixed mindset is usually down to the parents.

Parent's with a growth mindset encourage their children to learn, both with education and allowing them to try things and make mistakes but parents with a fixed mindset tell their child what is good or bad and right and wrong and are always judging them.

Teachers with a growth mindset will show students different ways of solving problems and learning, they believe each individual is capable of anything. Teachers with a fixed mindset will tend to focus only on the gifted kids believing that the other kids are not capable of improving their grades.

Takeaway #3 It IS Possible To Adopt a Growth Mindset In Adulthood

The brain can be trained just like any other muscle in the body, if you want a growth mindset, you can have one – You just need to teach yourself how and believe in yourself! It's not easy to leave a fixed mindset behind since this has likely become your emotional crutch, protecting you from failure, comforting you, and boosting your self confidence but you don't need to give it up altogether. Just replace parts of the fixed mindset with the growth mindset and you'll make leaps and bounds towards a life of fulfilment.

What are key lessons from Mindset?

Lesson #1. Your Abilities Are Set In Stone With The Fixed Mindset

If you have a fixed mindset, you think that people are either born intelligent or stupid, that talent comes naturally or not at all. You will think that you are only good at the things you have a natural talent for and that those things you aren’t good at, you’ll never be good at - the phrase ‘practice makes perfect’ not applying to people with a fixed mindset.

This fixed mindset has you believing that you cannot learn and improve through life and you’re likely quick to judge yourself and others at being good or bad at something, feeling a need to show off in the areas where you are smart and talented whilst seek approval to confirm that you’re as great at whatever it is you think you are. However, as soon as you make 1 mistake, you brand yourself an incompetent fool with others who make mistakes falling into the same shaming boat.

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It’s not just individuals who think this way, the HR departments of big companies including Enron and McKinsey actively scout out graduates who are so-called naturals, believing that they have the natural ability to instantly boost company performance without the need for much, if any, training in their new job role. Their managers are always evaluating the graduates, wondering if they lack the talent they thought they had when they don’t perform as expected, and readily fire those who don’t live up to their expectations believing that if they don’t already know it, there’s no hope for the future.

Lesson #2. If You Have The Growth Mindset You Can Grow & Develop

When children have the growth mindset there is no limit to what they can learn and achieve in life so long as they work hard, are dedicated, and persevere when challenges arise. When they are given a hard math problem to solve at school, they relish the challenge and want to do more math problems at home as they realize that the more math problems they solve, the more they learn.

Kids with the growth mindset don’t necessarily get the highest grades and may not be the smartest kid in their class but they enjoy the satisfaction of pushing themselves to the limits of their own growth potential. They practice relentlessly at a specific task that doesn’t come naturally to them, aware that practice makes perfect and it’s only with hard work and dedication that they will improve their skills, secure enough to know that occasionally failing is the only way to get better.

As adults, people with the growth mindset like to learn from the best in their field and will look at past successful strategies and think about how they can make them even better since there’s always room for improvement. They are always seeking to improve themselves and their relationships and welcome feedback and honest opinions at work, even welcoming problems, seeing them as a challenge to overcome rather than an obstacle.

Lesson #3. Do You Seek Approval or Development?

People with a fixed mindset seek approval whilst people with a growth mindset seek development. You’ll classify things as ‘good’ or ‘bad’ if you have a fixed mindset with no middle ground.

When Chrysler Motors was about to collapse, a new CEO, Lee Iacocca stepped in and bought the company back to life through his ability to make fast decisions and hire good employees. However, after his initial success, he started to relax and his behavior changed with his fixed mindset suddenly shining through. He was now flaunting his achievement, putting more energy into seeking approval from others than managing the company’s welfare.

In contrast, Lou Gerstner took over as CEO of IBM in its hour of need. He discovered a fixed mindset work environment in which employees were doing what was best for them and not the company. The focus was on internal arguments instead of teamwork and customer service. To fix this, Lou re-shuffled the company’s hierarchies, rewarding those who supported their co-workers whilst putting himself on the same level as his employees so that everyone felt able to talk to him. Lou had a growth mindset which enabled him to create lasting success through creating a new work environment based on teamwork, trust, and shared development.

Lesson #4. Do You Avoid Difficult Situations Or Relish Them?

People with a growth mindset relish difficulties, able to see the opportunities for growth (even if they fail), whilst people with a fixed mindset think that they’re gifted enough so don’t need to try - they avoid difficult situations at all costs, seeing only the risks and the fact that even if they put all of their time and energy into fixing and overcoming the situation, they still might fail (and look/feel like a loser) in which case there’s no point in trying. This means that people with a fixed mindset cannot improve themselves without questioning their talent.

By the age of ten, violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg was critically acclaimed but by the age of 18 she couldn’t hold her violin correctly. Nadja’s fear of failure, thanks to her fixed mindset, was so strong that she stopped playing violin altogether. On the opposite end of the scale, actor Christopher Reeve had such a strong growth mindset that he was able to move his hands, legs, and upper body after being told that he would be completely paralyzed from the neck down for the rest of his life after his accident. His growth mindset allowed him to make the impossible possible.

Lesson #5. Our Mindset Is Influenced By The Role Models We Had As Children

When you were born you had a growth mindset as all babies want to grow and learn, but your parents along with your teachers shaped whether you kept your growth mindset or developed a fixed mindset as you grew older.

Kids with parents who have a growth mindset would have been urged to continue learning and growing every single day whilst parents with a fixed mindset would judge their child, telling them right from wrong and what was good and what was bad. Likewise, some teachers believe in nurturing students to be and do their best, secure in the knowledge that everyone can learn anything with enough patience, practice, and understanding whilst teachers with the fixed mindset believe their student’s performance at school is unchangeable. The good teachers find alternative ways for their students who might be struggling to learn something whilst the bad teacher gives up thinking if they can’t learn the same way as their classmates there’s no hope for them. The weaker students who are not nurtured develop a fixed mindset believing themselves to be stupid with no hope of ever being like one of the clever kids.

Lesson #6. Anyone Can Adopt A Growth Mindset

Your brain is just another muscle in your body but it has to be trained to work how you want it to work - If you realize you currently have a fixed mindset but want the growth mindset, train yourself to be that way!

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When a wet plate or glass slips out of your hand and smashes to the floor don’t say (whether in your head or out loud) “I’m so stupid!” as you’re reinforcing your fixed mindset. Be conscious of how you speak to yourself and the next time something like that happens adopt a growth mindset by saying “Oh well, these things happen.”

When working on your growth mindset, reach out to people who have a similar mindset for support so that you can discuss your faults and how to overcome them whilst also taking their advice for making viable plans and goals for your future. You don’t need to give up your fixed mindset altogether, you may feel fine with the fact that you’re no artist however, this doesn’t mean that you can’t learn the piano, get a promotion at work, or turn your relationship around - Learn to apply the growth mindset in the situations that make sense for you.

It’s not easy to go from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset as it’s this that has protected you from failure over years whilst also boosting your self-confidence in the areas you are talented in but it’s not impossible… Think of Christopher Reeve and Michael Jordan and remember that the impossible is always, always possible no matter what you’re trying to achieve.

Book details

  • Print length: 276 Pages
  • Audiobook: 10 hrs and 23 mins
  • Genre: Psychology, Nonfiction, Self Help

What are the chapters in Mindset?

Chapter One - The Mindsets
Chapter Two - Inside the Mindsets
Chapter Three - The Truth About Ability and Accomplishment
Chapter Four - The Mindset of a Champion
Chapter Five - Business: Mindset and Leadership
Chapter Six - Relationships: Mindsets in Love (or Not)
Chapter Seven - Parents, Teachers, and Coaches: Where Do Mindsets Comes From?
Chapter Eight - Changing Mindsets

What are some good quotes from Mindset?

“Did I win? Did I lose? Those are the wrong questions. The correct question is: Did I make my best effort?”

“no matter what your ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.”

“We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.”

“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.”

“In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail—or if you’re not the best—it’s all been wasted. The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome. They’re tackling problems, charting new courses, working on important issues." (Meaning)

― Carol S. Dweck - Mindset Book Quotes

What do critics say?

Here's what one of the prominent reviewers had to say about the book: “A good book is one whose advice you believe. A great book is one whose advice you follow. This is a book that can change your life, as its ideas have changed mine.” — Robert J. Sternberg, co-author of Teaching for Wisdom, Intelligence, Creativity, and Success

* The summary points above have been concluded from the book and other public sources. The editor of this summary review made every effort to maintain information accuracy, including any published quotes, chapters, or takeaways

Reading is Smart. Applying is Smarter:  Apply

Chief Editor

Tal Gur is an author, founder, and impact-driven entrepreneur at heart. After trading his daily grind for a life of his own daring design, he spent a decade pursuing 100 major life goals around the globe. His journey and most recent book, The Art of Fully Living, has led him to found Elevate Society.

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