Book Review: Mindset by Carol S. Dweck

By now, most people are familiar with the terms “growth mindset” and “fixed mindset.” However, many people probably haven’t read the book from which these terms originate: Mindset by Carol S. Dweck. By reading this great book, you can have a better understanding of growth and fixed mindsets, and learn how you can better develop a growth mindset for yourself.

I’ve written before about the growth mindset vs the fixed mindset. You can read it here, but I'll also offer more analysis of the book right now. 

Here are the basics of the growth and fixed mindsets:
The growth mindset is the belief that traits and skills can be improved with practice. The fixed mindset is the belief that traits and skills are fixed, determined by your genes, and cannot be improved with practice. These two different beliefs have many consequences. They affect your attitude towards success, failure, competition, challenges, obstacles, criticism, and effort. These attitudes go on to affect your work ethic, performance, improvement, resilience, relationships, and happiness.

Chapter by chapter, Dweck explains how the growth and fixed mindsets affect all areas of your life. There are chapters about academics, athletics, business/leadership, relationships/marriage, personal character, and parents/teachers/coaches. The book ends by teaching how you can change your mindset and the mindsets of others.

Here is one of my favorite parts of the book:
Dweck teaches about how praising people can greatly affect their mindset. It depends on what you praise. If you praise people’s talent and outcomes, you can push them towards a fixed mindset. For example, if you tell your son, “You’re so smart,” after he aces a math test, then he may start to have a fixed mindset about intelligence and academic success. On the other hand, if you praise people’s effort and processes, you can push them towards a growth mindset. For example, if you tell your son, “Great effort!” after he scores a touchdown, then he may start to have a growth mindset about athletic ability. The book shows many examples of how the messages we tell people affect their mindset. This is very important for parents, teachers, and coaches to know. Ideally, you’d want to teach your kids to have a growth mindset from a young age.

Here is one practical tip that the book provides: whatever situation you find yourself in, whether it is in academics, athletics, or relationships, put yourself in a growth mindset. Get in the habit of asking yourself, “Can this trait/skill be improved with practice?” and “What do I want more, ego validation or improvement?” 

By cementing your belief that traits/skills can be improved with practice, and making improvement a top priority, you set yourself up for success and happiness.

Like all self-help books, this book tries to oversell the importance of its ideas. Obviously a growth mindset is very important, but this is not the most important book in the world. It’s not going to dramatically improve your life over night, but it’s a good starting point. The book is inspiring and helps give you a plan to follow, but with any book, you need to take action to apply what you learn and see real results. 

My biggest criticism of Mindset is my pet-peeve for books: too many boring examples! However, the main ideas of the book are good enough to help you tolerate the boring, unnecessary examples.

Overall, Mindset is a great book. I highly recommend it!