Mindset: the new psychology of success – book notes

By | August 19, 2015

I recently finished reading “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” from C. Dweck. I picked it up because it was part of the recommended books list from the C.E.O of the company where I work. There was some great learnings that I will definitely apply, mostly with my children and with myself from time to time J. This book had a lot of redundancy to validate the point of the author, tackling the point from multiple angles. In short, she claims that people can have two mindsets. The first one is a fixed mindset believing that we are born with a fixed set of capacities, that intelligence is static, and this leads us to desire to look smart. While the growth mindset is convinced that hard work and planning will increase our aptitudes and that intelligence can be developed, and this leads us to desire to learn.

Comparing the two mindsets, fixed vs growth

Fixed Growth
Challenges Avoid challenges (might prove that I’m not smart) Embrace challenges (can learn more and grow)
Obstacles Get defensive or give up easily Persist in the face of setbacks
Effort See effort as fruitless or worse, not supposed to need it, and rob you of all excuses See effort as the path to mastery
Criticism Ignore useful negative feedback Learn from criticism
Success of others Feel threatened by the success of others Find lessons and inspiration in the success of others
Result They may plateau early and achieve less than their full potential They reach ever-higher levels of achievement

Of course, if you recognize yourself in the fixed mindset, I would really encourage you to read the book! If you do recognize you with the growth mindset, it might not be as valuable for you, although there are still somethings to learn and grow from this book =).

Using the growth mindset

Every day, ask yourself “What are the opportunities for learning and growth today? For myself? For the people around me?” As you think of opportunities, form a clear plan and ask “When, where, and how will I embark on my plan”? Expect setback and re-iterate on your plan accordingly. Don’t forget to maintain your growth: “What do I have to do to maintain and continue the growth?”

When you think about your hero, role model, consider the idea that they used better strategies, taught themselves more, practices harder, and worked their way through obstacles. You can do that too.

People and teams embracing the growth mindset are more likely to state their honest opinions and openly express their disagreement, everyone is part of the learning process.

Teaching the growth mindset to your child(ren)

With my wife, we decided to ask ourselves and our children about our learning for the day, we do it every day at dinner time. The goal is to teach them that we appreciate the effort they put in learning new things and help them growth. More importantly the goal is to not teach them the growth mindset. Below are some sentences that you can use with your children to develop the growth mindset. Instead of saying, “awesome job, you are so intelligent!”, try something like this:

“I like that you took on that challenging project for your science class. It will take a lot of work – doing the research, designing the apparatus, buying the parts, and building it. Boy, you are going to learn a lot of great things.”

“I know school used to be easy for your and you used to feel like the smart kid all the time. But the truth is that you weren’t using your brain to the fullest. I’m really excited about how you’re stretching yourself now and working to learn hard things.”

“That homework was so long and involved. I really admire the way you concentrated and finished it.”

“That picture has so many beautiful colors. Tell me about them.”

“The passion you put into that piano piece gives me a real feeling of joy. How do you feel when you play it?”

When your child doesn’t deserve praise but encouragement, be honest.

“We all have learning curves. It may take more time for you to catch on this and be comfortable with this material, but if you keep at it like this you will.”

“Everyone learns in a different way. Let’s keep trying to find the way that works for you.”

    “It really makes me upset when you don’t do a full job. When do you think you can complete this?”

“Is there something you didn’t understand in the assignment? Would you like me to go over it with you?”

“I feel sad when I see you missing a chance to learn. Can you think of a way to do this that would help you learn more?”

“This look like a really boring assignment. You have my sympathy. Can you think of a way to do this that would help you learn more?”


Personally this book resonated well with me, as a child, it would have helped me to get some coaching on the growth mindset. As a parent, I hope to be able to cultivate a passion for learning and for growing.

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