Mindset by Carol Dwyer
One Line Summary
A simple mental shift that changes it all
Are you growing, or are you staying the same?
I honestly believe asking that simple question is one of the keys to life.
In Mindset by Carol Dwyer, Dwyer digs deep into the psychology of growth and stagnation. What does a person who grows look like? What does a person who stays the same look like? How do they each see the world?
The main thesis is that people who are in a growth mindset typically outperform people in a fixed-mindset. A Growth mindset person is essentially someone who believes in growth and accepts the process of it. A Fixed-mindset person is someone who does not believe in growth and resists the process.
Of course, we all have a bit of both in us. You may be open to change in some areas and not in others. But the point remains the same: growth-orientation outperforms fixed-orientation.
Why it’s Awesome
I’ve talked a lot on my YouTube channel how people don’t like change. Too much of a dramatic shift can really damage someone. But the importance of that topic goes beyond just not liking change.
Dwyer points out research example after research example of people succeeding to a greater level when they embrace change. And not just change, but often very negative change and serious failures.
Here are some of the most important characteristics of growth-mindset people according to Dwyer:
- Believes growth is possible for them
- Values learning
- Embraces failures as learning experiences
- Continually pushes for greater heights
- Values effort over innate talent
Let’s break down each one.
Believes Growth Is Possible For Them
If you believe you can’t grow in an area, then you’re automatically right. Because without a belief in growth, there’s no purpose for action.
This is tougher than it sounds. It’s my belief that most people want to believe their life situation is fixed, and so our culture plays into that narrative by telling people what they want to hear.
Why would anyone want to believe they couldn’t improve their life? Simply because improvement requires change and failure, two of the most threatening things for people.
Place a high value on learning. I remember as a kid that learning was seen as stupid, boring and a waste of time. And while some of thought was partially due to our education system, those ideas stick with you as you grow older.
Rewrite that story. Maybe learning was lame as a kid because it meant sitting in a classroom listening to a bunch of stuff you didn’t care about, but that attitude won’t help as an adult. Not in our self-motivated economy.
This may be one of the hardest on the list to internalize because failure is so linked to shame and feelings of unworthiness in most people. But it’s so crucial to understand.
What is failure? Have you ever really asked yourself that?
In my better moments, I understand that failure is not failure at all. It’s simply feedback telling me that I need to change course.
It’s not personal because just by changing my approach I can get a different result. And it doesn’t mean the obstacle is impossible to hurdle.
When you see that, you understand that you should actually be seeking out failure. That rapid course correction is what will get you to your goal far faster than anyone else, provided you are open to taking the lessons.
Continually Pushes For Greater Heights
Once you’ve decided “that’s enough”, then your success stops. Growth mindset people realize the game never ends and they’re always looking for the next level.
Values Effort Over Innate Talent
There’s an interesting study Dwyer mentions where children were separately praised for effort and for their inherent talent. Interestingly, the children who were praised for effort did far better than those who were praised for talent.
Being praised for talent put students in the fixed mindset. Their skills are seen not as the result of practice and hours of honing, but of some cosmic lottery.
But being praised for effort puts you in the growth mindset. You know you can improve by putting into place simple disciplines and long term effort.
This is why I loved the book The Talent Code by Daniel Coyle. Books like that show you that talent really doesn’t mean much at all.
Why Does It Suck
Definitely fluff here that could be trimmed. There’s a couple of key ideas that I outlined above and the rest is mostly just research studies.
The Wrap Up
This is a really important book for anyone who was called “a natural” or simply labeled as someone “going places” growing up.
There is no stagnation. Stagnation is entropy in disguise. Start embracing growth as a way of life.