A group of business owners who are in my Strategic Mastery program recently read the book, Mindset by Carol Dweck, Ph.D. a professor at Stanford. The overwhelming feedback on the positive value of this book was clear to me when discussing the content with my clients.
In a nutshell this book explains what Professor Dweck determined were two types of mental positions towards a variety of life situations: athletics, academics, business and relationships. The two positions are the growth mindset and the fixed mindset.
Here’s an example of each.
The Growth Mindset
You work hard on a presentation to be delivered to a public audience. The feedback received afterwards is mixed leading you to understand that it did not meet your goal of being outstanding. You decide to take the feedback and use it as guidance on how to improve your performance next time. You go to work on your next presentation giving it more effort and specifically in the areas where you feel you came up short last time. Your next presentation gets much better feedback. You’re encouraged and determined to keep at it.
The Fixed Mindset
You decide to run your first marathon. You train for a period of time before the race and feel pretty good going in to it. On race day you find yourself hitting the wall at mile 17 and completely unable to find a second wind. You start walking at mile 21 and give up at mile 23 utterly exhausted. Rather than consider how you went wrong in the training process you decided you’re not a marathon runner and vow to never run another marathon again. Furthermore you are disinclined to challenge yourself in a sporting event in the future.
Do you see the difference? It’s huge.
In my last class at Skyline College a student dropped the class in mid-semester because he found out that he wasn’t doing as well as he thought he should be. He was getting a solid B at the time of dropping the class. Rather than re-double his efforts and pull through with an A since 2 more exams and a final presentation were still on the syllabus he gave up. A growth mindset person who was in a group with him was very surprised to hear that he’d dropped the class.
Fixed mindset people close doors in their lives increasingly narrowing the variety of experiences they might encounter due to a growing disinclination towards challenge.
There were two big realizations that came out of the discussion around this book.
First, growth mindset people shouldn’t avoid fixed mindset people as much as that might seem optimal. Second, and tied to the first point, is that fixed mindset people can change and move towards being a growth mindset person. On Dweck’s website there is a 4-step process presented on how to move from one position to another.
I firmly believe that this book is a must read (also available through Audible) for anyone interested in personal and professional development as well as the science of achievement. It will help you be a better boss, co-worker, spouse, sibling, parent and athlete.