I recently read Carol Dweck’s book Mindset and want to share some key points and also get your views.
For those of you who are not familiar, Carol Dweck has a Ph.D. from Yale University, is a professor at Stanford University and a social psychologist. Her book and her work centers around theories of intelligence. Fixed mindset and growth mindset, nature vs nurture.
In the first few pages of the book she discusses her own beliefs as she started her career in psychology. Prior to her research she believed human qualities were innate, carved in stone. Children are born “gifted”, have “natural talents”, one was smart or they were not, and failure meant you were not smart, it was that simple. This is the description of a “fixed” mindset: a belief in nature, the way you are born is the way you will always be. Believing your qualities are set in stone, creates an urgency to prove yourself, over and over. When we praise children as being smart or brilliant, we boost their their sense of self and they like it, we all do, and don’t want to loose it. In so doing, we don’t offer reasons why we believe they are smart, just that they are. Those with fixed mindsets begin to evaluate situations based upon whether they will look smart, whether they will be deemed a winner or a looser, and this may instill a sense of insecurity. They feel they have to continue to prove they are smart. If they come across something that doesn’t come naturally to them, what happens? Avoidance of the situation, being uncomfortable knowing they may not appear smart.
Growth mindset emphasizes nurture, emphasis is placed on effort and hard work, not simply praised for being smart but why someone thinks they are smart. They are praised for time spent learning something of interest to them, praised for the questions they asked as they were digging deepre, the process they used in tracking down information or constructing something physical. Those with growth mindset know how to create the outcome they are striving for, challenges are viewed as a good thing, because they feel confident through their perseverance and hard work, they have the ability to succeed, and they believe this about themselves. They enjoy learning, figuring out the answers, asking more questions, because they are not viewing situations as win or lose.
Is it important for adults to understand their own mindset and how it may influence our interactions with others, whether this is at home, in the work place? Whichever mindset you have, isn’t this the lens through which you view all others, all situations? Can we change our mindsets, would you want to?
I really enjoyed this book, it has given me a lot to think about.