Mindset by Carol Dweck – book review

I was really impressed by the contents of this book. I came across it while listening to the Yale University “Science of Well-Being” course on Coursera, and as soon as I heard its contents summarized, I knew I wanted to read it.

The author, Carol Dweck, is a researcher who specializes in researching achievement in success, mainly among schoolchildren. Her research suggests that it is not just talent that brings us success, but also our approach towards life. She describes two mindsets: the “fixed” mindset and the “growth” mindset.

The “fixed” mindset suggests that we either have a knack for something or we don’t. People with a “fixed” mindset tend to be discouraged when things don’t go their way – they think they’re simply “not smart enough” to deal with the problem. These are the people who say “Oh, I’m not going to solve this problem, I’m too stupid”

The “growth” mindset embraces setbacks as opportunities to learn new things. People with a “growth” mindset think intelligence is something to constantly strive for. If they struggle with solving a problem, they appreciate the fact they are learning something new. These are the people who say ” Success is not about proving that you’re smart. It’s about learning.”

As I read on, it became far too clear that my mindset is fixed for a substantial proportion of my time. I quickly jump to the conclusion that if I don’t know how to do something, I am simply stupid. When faced with a rejection of my work I quickly turn it into a personal assessment. A one-off mistake quickly turns into an outright condemnation of my entire character

I really appreciated all the tips on how to try and change your own mindset – especially Dweck’s helpful rephrasing of “I don’t know how to solve this problem YET”. The “yet” is crucial as it allows you room for improvement. I find this notion really helpful.

Now this book can be a bit repetitive and simplistic when it comes to underlining its thesis, but I suppose that’s too some extent inevitable with this kind of self-help/research book for a popular audience. It is written using incredibly simple language, which makes it easy to read if at times a bit obvious. Go have a look at it, if you think your mindset could do with some improvement, or you’re involved in teaching others.

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