A few months ago, my husband recommended that I read the book MINDSET. At first I dismissed it as just another one of the many business/management guides that clutters his nightstand from time to time. But my husband insisted that this book was different, that it would be good for me. In fairness, he has been known to be right on one or two occasions, so I decided to give it a chance.
He was right.
MINDSET explains a lot of things about myself — especially about my attitude toward writing and achievement — that I had sensed but never fully articulated. Furthermore, the book offers productive alternatives for some of my biggest hangups. It’s not really a how-to or self-help book, but in examining the benefits and the power of a growth mindset, it does end up guiding readers toward a better path.
Here’s the crux of it, from the back cover:
“World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success — but whether we approach our goals with a fixed or growth mindset.”
What is fixed mindset?
The belief that we are who we are. Period. Static. Maybe you can change a little bit here and there, but for the most part, you’re born with whatever skills, intelligence, creativity, personality, etc. you’re ever going to get.
What is growth mindset?
The belief that we can always improve — and that the process of improving is as important as the improvement itself.
Why does your mindset matter?
As Dweck shows through various case studies, the fixed mindset sets people up for failure, generally speaking. I mean, if you happen to be a super genius with natural talent and charm, then OK you’re all set! But for the other 99.99% of us, it’s not so easy. And if we’re convinced that we’re either smart or not, either artistic or not, either (fill in the blank) or not, then when we fail at something, that’s it. We’re done. No point in trying again.
But if we instead believe that every failure is just a step on the path to success? A necessary step? A valuable step, because what doesn’t work teaches us about what will work? Then we’re already where we want to be. The journey is as much the destination as the destination itself.
There is a lot more nuance to fixed vs. growth mindset than that — and really, it’s a spectrum, not just one or the other — but many of the problems that Dweck identifies as part of the fixed mindset remind me of issues that writers face. [Read more…]