Mindset

by Carol Dweck

Troy Shu
Troy Shu
Updated at: February 23, 2024
 5 min read
Mindset
Mindset

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What are the big ideas?

  1. People who believe they can grow see skills and smarts as things they can get better at with hard work. They think of hard times as chances to learn, not as failures.
  2. Those who think their abilities can't change always try to show they're smart or good at something. But people who believe they can grow focus on getting better and working harder.
  3. If you have a growth mindset, tough tasks and mistakes are chances to get better and smarter, not signs that you're not good enough.
  4. Growing means knowing that you can get better over time, not just being good right away because you're talented.
  5. People with a growth mindset know that working hard and trying a lot are key to getting better and overcoming hard things.

Summary

The Impact of a Growth Mindset on Learning and Intelligence

  • “[Children with a growth mindset] knew that human qualities, such as intellectual skills, could be cultivated through effort.”
  • “Not only were [the children with a growth mindset] not discouraged by failure, they didn’t even think they were failing. They thought they were learning.”
  • “What are the consequences of thinking that your intelligence or personality is something you can develop, as opposed to something that is a fixed, deep-seated trait?”
  • “Robert Sternberg, the present-day guru of intelligence, writes that the major factor in whether people achieve expertise ‘is not some fixed prior ability, but purposeful engagement.’”
  • “For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects how you lead your life.”

Differences Between Fixed and Growth Mindsets

  • “Believing that your qualities are carved in stone—the fixed mindset—creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over.”
  • “This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way—in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments—everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”
  • “Why waste time proving over and over how great you are when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them?”
  • “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.”
  • “The fixed mindset makes you concerned with how you’ll be judged; the growth mindset makes you concerned with improving.”

Embracing Challenges and Learning from Failures

  • “When you enter a mindset, you enter a new world. In one world—the world of fixed traits—success is about proving you’re smart or talented. Validating yourself. In the other—the world of changing qualities—it’s about stretching yourself to learn something new. Developing yourself.”
  • “Benjamin Barber, an eminent sociologist, once said, ‘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 non-learners.’”
  • “People in a growth mindset don’t just seek challenge, they thrive on it.”
  • “We gave fifth graders intriguing puzzles, which they all loved. But when we made them harder, children with the fixed mindset showed a big plunge in enjoyment.”
  • “For [people with a growth mindset] it’s not about immediate perfection. It’s about learning something over time: confronting a challenge and making progress.”

The Journey of Growth and Development

  • “‘Becoming is better than being’. The fixed mindset does not allow people the luxury of becoming. They have to already be.”
  • “People with the growth mindset know that it takes time for potential to flower.”
  • “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. As usual, 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.”
  • “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.”
  • “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.’”

The Value of Effort and Persistence in a Growth Mindset

  • “People with the growth mindset, however, believe something very different. For them, even geniuses have to work hard for their achievements.”
  • “They may appreciate endowment, but they admire effort, for no matter what your ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.”
  • “The growth mindset does allow people to love what they’re doing—and to continue to love it in the face of difficulties.”
  • “Those with the growth mindset found success in doing their best, in learning and improving. And this is exactly what we find in the champions.”
  • “Those with the growth mindset found setbacks motivating. They’re informative. They’re a wake-up call.”
  • “People with the growth mindset in sports (as in pre-med chemistry) took charge of the processes that bring success—and that maintain it.”

Questions

  1. How can adopting a growth mindset help you see challenges as opportunities to learn rather than as failures?
  2. In what ways does the belief that intelligence and personality can be developed affect your life and goals?
  3. What are the key differences between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset in terms of responding to success and failure?
  4. Why is it important to view effort and struggle as essential parts of personal growth and achievement?
  5. How can embracing a growth mindset change your approach to learning new skills or facing difficult tasks?
  6. What are the benefits of surrounding yourself with people who challenge you and encourage growth?
  7. In what ways can adopting a growth mindset help you deal with setbacks or obstacles in your career or personal life?
  8. How can focusing on continuous improvement and learning, rather than just on proving yourself, lead to greater success and fulfillment?

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