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‘Mindset- The New Psychology of Success’, is the bestselling book by Dr. Carol Dweck that has changed millions of lives since it was published in 2006. She was a Standford university psychologist who has been the psychological trainer of many highly successful people.
What is success?
Does it require something more than your natural ability?
If you aren’t naturally talented, then is being successful your cup of tea?
What do you mean by potential?
In this book, Carol answers all these questions explaining two mindsets- fixed mindset vs. growth mindset, their characteristics and some practical examples.
Two main types of the mindset-
Fixed mindset- People with this mindset believe that every ability one possesses is natural and there isn’t much that can be done to improve oneself. If you are not a genius, then you are doomed to failure.
Growth mindset- People with this mindset believe that they can develop their skills.
Let’s glance at the characteristics of both mindsets.
|Fixed mindset||Growth mindset|
|1. For fixed mindset people, failing once is enough to convince them, they are a failure. For them, failure does define their capacity to achieve something in the future.||1. Growth mindset people may go through a temporary phase of depression but know that they are not the failure.They will analyse what went wrong and won’t repeat the same mistake again. For them, failure is an opportunity to improve.|
|2. Fixed mindset people believe that either you are smart or hardworking. Both can’t occur simultaneously.||2. Growth mindset people are well aware that even talent needs to work hard. And even if you aren’t naturally talented you can improve your abilities to any extent.|
|3. For these people, potential is how much someone already has.||3. For these people, ‘potential’ is someone’s capacity to develop their skills with efforts and planning over time.|
|4. These people are afraid of challenges because they think if they fail then their abilities will be questioned.||4. These people just love challenges. They know challenges serve as a good fuel for improving themselves.|
|5. For these people, success is about proving to the world that they are the best.||5. For these people, success is about learning and getting better each day. They will not measure their success in terms of what people think.|
|6. Many of these people know that growth mindset is better. However, they will do nothing, believing that growth mindset is too ideal situation.||6. These people know that growth mindset is possible and they work toward it each day.|
Which mindset do you think seems logical? Which mindset do you think is better?
Many people have fixed mindset- it’s not always their mistake. The society we live in, the constant environment it offers us, plays a crucial role in what kind of person we become. People don’t dare even to believe that growth mindset exists. Most of them think it’s impractical. This is the biggest reason that holds them back.
Many of us are a mixture of both mindsets. Now it’s up to us what to believe and what not to.
Some Real-life Examples
- Judit Polgar is the chess grandmaster and one of the greatest chess players in the chess history. Her family is one of the best examples of growth mindset. Judit wasn’t the gifted child. She started everything slowly, but she was immensely focused. She was consistent in her efforts. Owing to her growth mindset she could achieve the title of Grandmaster.
2. Christopher Reeve, the superman movie’s actor, had a deadly accident which paralyzed him from the neck down. He couldn’t move at all. Even medical science declared that he cannot live a normal life again. But Christopher had growth mindset and was determined. He asked himself- Why can’t I?
And yes, he got better, started living a normal life and opened up a whole new branch for medical science to research upon.
3. Billy Beane, a baseball player, had a fixed mindset. So despite of having natural talent, he couldn’t make well in baseball. After observing Lenny Dykstra, another successful and hardworking baseball player, he agreed that mindset is more important than talent. Billy then became Executive President of the Oakland Athletics.
4. Wilma Rudolph, American track and field athlete, suffered from many childhood illnesses such as pneumonia, scarlet fever, infantile paralysis. It was her growth mindset which made her unique from other players. She was the first woman to win three gold medals in track and field olympics despite early negative physical health.
Then, doesn’t talent exist? Yes, it does! But just because some people can do something with little or no training, it doesn’t mean that others can’t do better than that.In fact, a large population of successful people has growth mindset. There are many more examples of growth mindset people, other than above explained, such as Jackson Pollock, Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth, etc. But people perceive all their achievements as the result of their talent.
Students and Mindset
In an experiment conducted by author, when students were praised for efforts, 90% of them wanted the challenging new task that they could learn from and improve their performance. Difficulty simply means ‘apply more efforts’ for these kids.
Those kids who were praised for their natural ability were not willing to give their best and believed more in intelligence and were afraid to take challenges because they thought it can disprove their ability. In fixed mindset, imperfections are shameful.
Stereotyping and mindset connection
Stereotyping has a significant hand in deciding one’s mindset.
Girls can’t do math. Boys have low emotional quotient. Most people have fixed mindset and they just accept the stereotype as the ultimate truth. Growth mindset people don’t pay any heed to such stereotypes. That is why you see exceptions to every stereotype.
Many people argue that some stereotypes are scientifically proved. Yes, science shows such results. But, remember that science collects an average data of people’s brains which may be already stereotyped. And also it doesn’t specify that results they have got can’t be changed. When more than half of our society belongs to a negatively stereotyped groups and they bombarded these stereotypes on us for many ages. So we must question-
Does science show the results decided by nature itself that can’t be changed?
Does it show the result of an evolution that took place in human beings, which can be improved if someone believes in him/her?
Again, it’s your choice to believe either one of the two arguments depending upon your mindset.
You can change your mindset
Growth mindset can be developed by asking yourself following questions.
Whom do you admire?
- A person with high abilities and natural talent, (fixed mindset) or
- A person who is strategic, well-planner, hardworking, who has learnt from his/her experiences and has become better than yesterday?(growth mindset)
Do you label kids?
This kid will be the next scientist, engineer, artist, musician, etc.?(fixed mindset) Remember, labelling may harm that kid’s willingness to put efforts in their work.
Lastly, the author asks two important questions-
- Looking at successful people, why does everybody think they are gifted? Why doesn’t anybody try to scrutinize behind the scenes?
- Why is it so difficult for ordinary people to believe that growth mindset does exist and we can improve ourselves?
This was all about it! This book must read if believe that talent is everything. It is going to change your mindset, the way you think.
Let me know in the comment section below what you feel. Follow my blog for more such content!