Stanford university psychologist, Carol Dweck has published a book entitled “Mindset. The New Psychology of Success” (ISBN 978-0-345-47232-8). Guy Kawasaki posted about it, and wrote a commendation which is printed on the front page. And Stanford Magazine did an article about it last year.
She’s identified two “mindsets” in relation to how people approach challenges and effort.
When you enter a mindset, you enter a new world. In one world – the world of fixed traits – success is about proving you’re smart or talented. Validating yourself. In the other – the world of changing qualities – it’s about stretching yourself to learn something new. Developing yourself.
One point she made which struck me as surprising at first was that people with a fixed mindset often have had lots of praise. She makes the point that just telling your child they are clever, or wonderful, or whatever, sets up a belief system in them which can become fixed and she recommends instead praising children for their effort, for what they’ve learned. This is her key point really – that when you have a mindset about loving learning you can grow, but when you have a mindset where you think talents are fixed then you get stuck.
The fixed mindset limits achievement. It fills people’s minds with interfering thoughts, it makes effort disagreeable, and it leads to inferior learning strategies. What’s more, it makes other people into judges instead of allies. Whether we’re talking about Darwin or college students, important achievements require a clear focus, all-out effort, and a bottomless trunk full of strategies. Plus allies in learning. This is what the growth mindset gives people, and that’s why it helps their abilities grow and bear fruit.