We’ve probably heard of “fixed” mindset and “growth” mindset, or at least some podcasticized version of the terms. But what do they really mean, and where do they come from? In Dr. Dweck’s Mindset, the author explains the difference in attitudes and framing of those in a “fixed” mindset (BAD) and a “growth” mindset (GOOD). People in a fixed mindset see traits and abilities as static and unchangeable. For example, you’re either good at art or not. This is a dangerous mindset because every success or failure is a source of worth and meaning and therefore we’re more willing to lie, cheat, steal, defend, blame, etc. to maintain our view of ourselves. People in a growth mindset believe that we can grow, learn, and change, and therefore when we’re in that mindset we can improve and entertain more nuanced understandings of what any given event means and what we can do about it.
Dweck expands on this idea with research and anecdotes keyed to business, sports, parenting, teaching, creative pursuits, and more. Most interesting to me was the idea that people with growth mindsets can pass on fixed mindsets unintentionally by the kinds of praise or feedback they give. That’s really important for me to realize as a parent and teacher.
While there is valuable theory and practical application in this book, it also suffers from the bloat that a lot of non-fiction books share. There are lots and lots and lots of stories to back up each idea. I understand that research doesn’t necessarily appeal to everyone in the way anecdotes might, but boy howdy are there a lot of author and client/subject anecdotes. That’s the primary reason for the deductions.