One of my favorite quotes is, “A man with a hammer sees everything as a nail.” I like how this sentence captures an important truth: our perspective shapes our actions. In other words, our mindset affects how we behave. In MINDSET, Carol S. Dweck sheds light on the differences between having a “fixed” mindset (where you believe your talents and abilities are unchangeable, for better or worse) and a “growth” mindset (where you believe that with effort you can improve).
Our mindsets affect us in every domain of our lives. Interestingly, when I shared Dweck’s research with some graduate students I was teaching at Drew, several realized that they possessed a growth mindset for sports (e.g., “I know I can get better at lacrosse by working hard at practice”) but a fixed mindset for academics (“I’ve never been good at math”).
And here’s a crucial note for parents and educators: if we praise children for being “smart,” we in fact contribute to the development of a fixed mindset (where students then don’t want to tackle difficult challenges because they’re afraid to jeopardize their status as “smart”). The solution is to praise them for working hard instead. For this insight alone, the price of the book is worth it. Seriously: tell your friends.
The ultimate good news, according to Dweck, is that mindsets are not set in stone. At any time, you can learn to use a growth mindset to achieve success and happiness. YAY! Let’s keep pushing, people!!!