On Mindset

I recently finished reading Mindset: The New Psychology of Success – How We Can Learn to Fulfill our Potential – by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.. As the author best summarizes: “My work is part of a tradition in psychology that shows the power of people’s beliefs. These may be beliefs we’re aware of or unaware of, but they strongly affect what we want and whether we succeed in getting it. This tradition also shows how changing people’s beliefs—even the simplest beliefs—can have profound effects. In this book, you’ll learn how a simple belief about yourself—a belief we discovered in our research—guides a large part of your life. In fact, it permeates every part of your life. Much of what you think of as your personality actually grows out of this “mindset.” Much of what may be preventing you from fulfilling your potential grows out of it.”

Below are key excerpts from this book that I would like to share, from this perceptive piece of work:

On Potential:

This leads us back to the idea of “potential” and to the question of whether tests or experts can tell us what our potential is, what we’re capable of, what our future will be. The fixed mindset says yes. You can simply measure the fixed ability right now and project it into the future. Just give the test or ask the expert. No crystal ball needed…But isn’t potential someone’s capacity to develop their skills with effort over time? And that’s just the point. How can we know where effort and time will take someone…People with the growth mindset know that it takes time for potential to flower.

On how Failure is perceived based on your mindset:

In short, when people believe in fixed traits, they are always in danger of being measured by a failure. It can define them in a permanent way. Smart or talented as they may be, this mindset seems to rob them of their coping resources. When people believe 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.

On praising abilities:

If people have such potential to achieve, how can they gain faith in their potential? How can we give them the confidence they need to go for it? How about praising their ability in order to convey that they have what it takes? In fact, more than 80 percent of parents told us it was necessary to praise children’s ability so as to foster their confidence and achievement. You know, it makes a lot of sense.

On mindsets and business leadership (Jack Welch):

What he learned was this: 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.

On mindsets and relationships:

“Oh no,” I replied. “To me the whole point of marriage is to encourage your partner’s development and have them encourage yours.” By that I didn’t mean a My Fair Lady kind of thing where you attempt an extreme makeover on partners, who then feel they aren’t t good enough as they are. I mean helping partners, within the relationship, to reach their own goals and fulfill their own potential. This is the growth mindset in action.

On Shyness:

Shyness harmed the social interactions of people with the fixed mindset but did not harm the social relations of people with the growth mindset. The observers’ ratings showed that, although both fixed- and growth-minded shy people looked very nervous for the first five minutes of the interaction, after that the shy growth-minded people showed greater social skills, were more likable, and created a more enjoyable interaction. In fact, they began to look just like non-shy people.

In conclusion:

Mindset change is not about picking up a few pointers here and there. It’s about seeing things in a new way. When people—couples. coaches and athletes, managers and workers, parents and children. teachers and students—change to a growth mindset, they change from a judge-and-be-judged framework to a learn-and-help-learn framework. Their commitment is to growth, and growth takes plenty of time, effort, and mutual support.

A must read book in the areas of personal development and psychology.




  1. Mindset is one of my favorite books. Lot of people ask me which one book I’d recommend, and as an author I should be encouraging others to read my book, but I tell them that if they must read only one book in life – read Mindset.

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