Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (Review)

Do you have a fixed or a growth mindset?  Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success seeks to teach you what the mindsets are and why having a growth one is vital for a good life.

My wife recommended this book to me and I found the ideas within it very helpful.  To have a fixed mindset is to see your talents or character as unchanging; you are born a certain way and that is just how you are.  This leads you to end up hiding your faults and failures in an effort to keep up appearances, or not trying to acquire new tasks since if things do not come easy they are not worth doing.  On the other hand, to have a growth mindset is to recognize that though we all may be born with different talents, we can change and improve through hard work.

Last week we took our kids camping.  I had no one else there who was capable of building a campfire so I had to do it.  My wife had full confidence in me.  But my secret was that I had not built a campfire since I worked at a summer camp in college and even then I only did it a few times.  I have been camping quite a bit since then, but I always let other people – my college students, my family – build the fire.  Yet I carried myself in such a way as to make them think I could build a fire if I needed to.  My fear was that I would be put on the spot and exposed as someone without that skill.

A silly example, I know, but it illustrated a place where I had a fixed mindset.  I struggled to build a good fire on our trip and when I began to fail my ego took a hit.  I stuck with it, trying to have a growth mindset, and I figured it out.

So I have found Dweck’s work helpful as I look at my own life.  The main criticism of the book I would have is that it does become redundant after a while.  Her primary points are surrounded by story after story that are easily skimmed through.  It was also amusing to see how some of her stories are a bit dated (the book was written in 2006).  If she wrote it now, she might use different examples, especially when the stories no longer fit her use of them.

Overall, this is a book with some good points that is not too hard to read.  Further, I imagine it would apply in most walks of life.  I work as a pastor and saw lots of connections to the idea of spiritual growth here.


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