Derek Sivers
Mindset - by Carol Dweck

Mindset - by Carol Dweck

ISBN: 0345472322
Date read: 2010-11-27
How strongly I recommend it: 8/10
(See my list of 360+ books, for more.)

Go to the Amazon page for details and reviews.

Crucial distinction: People in a “fixed” mindset believe that you *are* great or flawed. People in a “growth” mindset believe your greatness (or flaws) are because of your actions. The fixed mindset is very harmful in every area of life (work, art, relationships, business, etc.) We get our initial mindset from our environment. When parents say, “You are great,” instead of ”You did great work,” they accidentally create the “fixed” mindset.

my notes

Response to an academic failure - a poor test grade in a new course. Those with the growth mindset said they would study harder for the next test. Those with the fixed mindset said they would study less for the next test. If you don’t have the ability, why waste your time?

College students, after doing poorly on a test, were given a chance to look at tests of other students. Those in the growth mindset looked at the tests of people who had done far better than they had. They wanted to correct their deficiency. But students in the fixed mindset chose to look at the tests of people who had done really poorly. That was their way of feeling better about themselves.

As Procter & Gamble surged into the paper goods business, Scott Paper - which was then the leader - just gave up. Instead of mobilizing themselves and putting up a fight, they said, “Oh, well... at least there are people in the business worse off than we are.”

John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach, says you aren’t a failure until you start to blame. What he means is that you can still be in the process of learning from your mistakes until you deny them.

When people believe their basic qualities can be developed, failures may still hurt, but failures don’t define them. If abilities can be expanded - if change and growth are possible - then there are still many paths to success.

The talented but erratic hare and the plodding but steady tortoise: The lesson was supposed to be that slow and steady wins the race. But, really, did any of us ever want to be the tortoise? No, we just wanted to be a less foolish hare. We wanted to be swift as the wind and a bit more strategic - say, not taking quite so many snoozes before the finish line. The story of the tortoise and the hare, in trying to put forward the power of effort, gave effort a bad name. It reinforced the image that effort is for the plodders and suggested that in rare instances, when talented people dropped the ball, the plodder could sneak through.

As a society we value natural, effortless accomplishment over achievement through effort. We endow our heroes with superhuman abilities that led them inevitably toward their greatness.

French executive Pierre Chevalier says, “We are not a nation of effort. After all, if you have savoir-faire [a mixture of know-how and cool], you do things effortlessly.”

In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail - or if you’re not the best - it’s all been wasted. The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome.

This book is one of the hardest things I’ve ever done. I read endless books and articles. The information was overwhelming. I’d never written in a popular way. It was intimidating. Does it seem easy for me? Way back when, that’s exactly what I would have wanted you to think. Now I want you to know the effort it took - and the joy it brought.

Not only weren’t they discouraged by failure, they didn’t even think they were failing. They thought they were learning.

Alfred Binet, inventor of the IQ test, did it for growth mindset, to help schools improve. The IQ test wasn't meant to summarize children’s unchangeable intelligence.

It’s not nature or nurture, genes or environment. From conception on, there’s a constant give and take between the two. In fact, as Gilbert Gottlieb, an eminent neuroscientist, put it, not only do genes and environment cooperate as we develop, but genes require input from the environment to work properly.

The hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.

Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them?

Why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you?

The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset.

“I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures. I divide the world into the learners and nonlearners.” - Benjamin Barber

Fixed mindset said the ideal mate would: Put them on a pedestal. Make them feel perfect. Worship them. In other words, the perfect mate would enshrine their fixed qualities.
Growth mindset said the ideal mate would: See their faults and help them to work on them. Challenge them to become a better person. Encourage them to learn new things.

People with the growth mindset thrive when they’re stretching themselves. When do people with the fixed mindset thrive? When things are safely within their grasp. If things get too challenging - when they’re not feeling smart or talented - they lose interest.

When do you feel smart: when you’re flawless or when you’re learning?

When NASA was soliciting applications for astronauts, they rejected people with pure histories of success and instead selected people who had had significant failures and bounced back from them.

Edison was not a loner. For the invention of the lightbulb, he had thirty assistants, including well-trained scientists, often working around the clock in a corporate-funded state-of-the-art laboratory!

Just because some people can do something with little or no training, it doesn’t mean that others can’t do it (and sometimes do it even better) with training. This is so important, because many, many people with the fixed mindset think that someone’s early performance tells you all you need to know about their talent and their future.

When students were praised for effort, 90 percent of them wanted the challenging new task that they could learn from.

“You must have worked really hard.” They were not made to feel that they had some special gift; they were praised for doing what it takes to succeed.

Praising ability lowered the students’ IQs. And that praising their effort raised them.

40 percent of the ability-praised students lied about their scores. In the fixed mindset, imperfections are shameful - especially if you’re talented - so they lied them away. What’s so alarming is that we took ordinary children and made them into liars, simply by telling them they were smart.

I was single at the time, and he asked me what my plan was for finding a partner. He was aghast when I said I didn’t have a plan. “You wouldn’t expect your work to get done by itself,” he said. “Why is this any different?” It was inconceivable to him that you could have a goal and not take steps to make it happen.

Think about your hero. Do you think of this person as someone with extraordinary abilities who achieved with little effort? Now go find out the truth. Find out the tremendous effort that went into their accomplishment - and admire them more.

Michael Jordan was cut from the high school varsity team - we laugh at the coach who cut him. He wasn’t recruited by the college he wanted to play for (North Carolina State). Well, weren’t they foolish? He wasn’t drafted by the first two NBA teams that could have chosen him. What a blooper! Because now we know he was the greatest basketball player ever, and we think it should have been obvious from the start. When we look at him we see MICHAEL JORDAN. But at that point he was only Michael Jordan.

A genius who constantly wants to upgrade his genius.

People prize natural endowment over earned ability.

The mark of a champion is the ability to win when things are not quite right - when you’re not playing well and your emotions are not the right ones.

Personal success is when you work your hardest to become your best.

Those with the growth mindset found setbacks motivating. They’re informative. They’re a wake-up call.

In the fixed mindset, setbacks label you.

Enron did a fatal thing: It created a culture that worshiped talent, thereby forcing its employees to look and act extraordinarily talented. Basically, it forced them into the fixed mindset.

Good leaders: Constantly trying to improve, they surround themselves with the most able people they can find, they look squarely at their own mistakes and deficiencies, and they ask frankly what skills they and the company will need in the future. And because of this, they can move forward with confidence that’s grounded in the facts, not built on fantasies about their talent.

The minute a leader allows himself to become the primary reality people worry about, rather than reality being the primary reality, you have a recipe for mediocrity, or worse.

Instead of using the company as a vehicle for their greatness, they use it as an engine of growth - for themselves, the employees, and the company as a whole.

Growth-minded manager - a guide, not a judge.

The approved way to foster productivity was now through mentoring, not through terror.

Fixed mindset, they felt judged and labeled by the rejection.

Because the fixed mindset gives them no recipe for healing their wound, all they could do was hope to wound the person who inflicted it.

“Tout comprendre c’est tout pardonner.” To understand all is to forgive all.

Kids with the fixed mindset are the ones who react to taunting and bullying with thoughts of violent retaliation.

Now you can have a fixed mindset about three things. You can believe that your qualities are fixed, your partner’s qualities are fixed, and the relationship’s qualities are fixed - that it’s inherently good or bad, meant-to-be or not meant-to-be. Now all of these things are up for judgment. The growth mindset says all of these things can be developed. All - you, your partner, and the relationship - are capable of growth and change. In the fixed mindset, the ideal is instant, perfect, and perpetual compatibility. Like it was meant to be.

A good, lasting relationship comes from effort and from working through inevitable differences.

Remember the fixed-mindset idea that if you have ability, you shouldn’t have to work hard? This is the same belief applied to relationships: If you’re compatible, everything should just come naturally. Every single relationship expert disagrees with this.

People with a fixed mindset believe that a couple should share all of each other’s views. If you do, then you don’t need communication; you can just assume your partner sees things the way you do.

Even a minor discrepancy threatened their belief that they shared all of each other’s views.

Fixed mindset is the belief that problems are a sign of deep-seated flaws.

Once people with the fixed mindset see flaws in their partners, they become contemptuous of them and dissatisfied with the whole relationship.

Relationship expert Daniel Wile says that choosing a partner is choosing a set of problems.

Never to think these fixed-mindset thoughts: My partner is incapable of change. Nothing can improve our relationship. These ideas, he says, are almost always wrong.

My husband and I invented a third party, an imaginary man named Maurice. Whenever I start in on who’s to blame, we invoke poor Maurice and pin it on him.

The whole point of marriage is to encourage your partner’s development and have them encourage yours.

Helping partners, within the relationship, to reach their own goals and fulfill their own potential. This is the growth mindset in action.

Shy growth-minded people looked on social situations as challenges. Even though they felt anxious, they actively welcomed the chance to meet someone new.

It’s not that bullies are low in self-esteem, but judging and demeaning others can give them a self-esteem rush. Bullies also gain social status from their actions. Others may look up to them and judge them to be cool, powerful, or funny. Or may fear them. Either way, they’ve upped their standing.

Stan Davis, a therapist, school counselor, and consultant, has developed an anti-bullying program that works. Building on the work of Dan Olweus, a researcher in Norway, Davis’s program helps bullies change, supports victims, and empowers bystanders to come to a victim’s aid. Within a few years, physical bullying in his school was down 93 percent and teasing was down 53 percent.