Passion-Filled Motivation for Start up Founders



Mindset By Carol Dweck – Book Summary

11 Mar , 2017  

Author Description

Carol Dweck is a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. Dweck is known for her work on the psychological trait.

Book Review

The puzzle experiment — Students were first given an easy puzzle to solve. Once solved they were praised either for their intelligence or effort. Then they were given a hard puzzle that challenged them. The students were then asked do you want to go back to working on easy puzzles so you will do well or these hard puzzles where you can learn a lot. The children that were praised for their intelligence almost always went for the for the easy puzzles. Whilst the children praise for their effort go for the hard ones. Why? The kids who were praised for their intelligence wanted to continue to feel intelligent and when faced with a problem that can’t be solved quickly it leads to a loss of confidence and a desire to return to that feeling of being smart. This is what Carol Dweck in the book Mindset calls the fixed mindset.

In experiment after experiment, Carol Dweck shows that the fixed mindset is a huge road block to success in life. Whether it be school or business or marriage or anything you are trying to achieve. If you have a fixed mindset you believe you are blessed with raw talent irregardless of whether you truly have the skills or not and you spend your life trying to protect this identity you’ve created for yourself instead of putting effort to grow. You stay clear of anything that will challenge you to ensure that your confidence and pride is protected. As Dweck puts it: “From the point of view of the fixed mindset, effort is only for people with deficiencies…. If you’re considered a genius, a talent, or a natural—then you have a lot to lose. Effort can reduce you.”

With the fixed mindset you can also believe that you lost the genetic lottery. I’ve heard numerous times “I’m just not good at math” used as an excuse for failure on a math test. I sadly have also been in this category. I used this as an excuse almost my entire life. Until I wanted to get into data science. Data science is almost purely a numbers game. Initially, I struggled to learn how to develop algorithms and deal with millions and millions of records. It took me months of working late nights, reading on the weekends, practicing almost every day to get the hang out of it and just last week I wrote an algorithm to save one of Australia’s largest companies millions of dollars. I’m not saying this to brag, I’m saying this because I used “I’m not good at math” as an excuse to shield myself from putting in the effort to learn. This fixed mindset prevents you from failing in the short–run, but in the long–run it hinders your ability to learn, grow, and develop new skills.

People with the growth mindset believe that basic qualities, including intelligence, can be strengthened like a muscle. How does an Austrian farm boy trapped in the military, not from a rich family, with not only his parents but colleagues and army commanders against his dreams become worth 300 million dollars? Through sheer hard work and effort. Arnold Schwarzenegger was forced into the military while this would have stopped most people, he didn’t let it stop him. Like everyone else he went for 5 am runs with heavy combat gear, did his daily work of cleaning guns, going to the shooting range, marching 20 miles and then at the end of the day when everyone almost dropped dead from exhaustion he trained for 3 hours then woke up early and did more push ups and sits ups. It’s this dedication and effort that lead to him winning his first bodybuilding competition and then to being the highest paid actor and then to becoming the governor of California.

With a mindset to take on challenges and put in the effort, anything can be achieved. In Dweck’s words “a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); it’s impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and training.”

The following image, created by Nigel Holmes, and found near the end of the book, is a great summary of the key ideas in Mindset, and how it affects your life:

mindset intellegence split

Think about which side of this image better represents your beliefs and your resulting behavior. In case I haven’t made it clear: skill is something you can cultivate, not merely something you’re born with.

You can become more creative, more intelligent, more athletic, more artistic, and more successful by focusing on the process, not the outcome.

Instead of worrying about creating a billion dollar company, commit to the process of creating a product or increasing sales or creating a better customer experience. Instead of worrying about writing a bestselling book, commit to the process of publishing your ideas on a consistent basis. Instead of worrying about getting six pack abs, commit to the process of working out and eating healthy each day.

It’s not about the result, it’s about building the identity of the type of person who enjoys the putting in the effort.


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