Book Review Wednesday: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S Dweck (4 stars)

Posted: July 8, 2015 in Book Reviews
Tags: , , , , ,

Dweck is awesome, and here she’s written an awesome book.

If you’re a parent, an educator, or just someone who wants to be a success at something one day, you need to read this book. How’s that for a recommendation?

This book goes hand in hand with one of my favorite productivity / success books ever: Malcolm Gladwell’s Outliers.  In that book he talks about the idea that it takes about ten thousand hours of practice before we become a world class expert at a skill. Say for example you want to become a world class expert at playing the piano, you need to log ten thousand hours of practice. That’s about three hours a day for ten years.

Now, it’s not like every minute of practice up until then is going to be useless. Far from it. Somewhere between twenty to a hundred hours in you’ve gone from ‘I haven’t a clue’ to ‘I know the bare basics.’ Reach four thousand and to most people you’re an expert. You know about enough to teach about the skill. Eight thousand hours and you’re better than everyone except those few coveted world class experts.

What this tells us is that everyone can learn how to be good at something if they put enough work into it. So why are there so few world class experts around? Why are there people who reach adulthood and don’t seem to be skilled at much?

This is where Dweck’s book comes in. You see, to be motivated enough to put that work in, you need to have the right mindset.

There are two mindsets. The fixed mindset believes that everything comes from nature. That math genius is born a math genius. That athlete was just born that good. If I join a karate class and suck at it, I will always suck at it and might as well drop out now. Kids are either smart at something, or not smart. You can’t do anything to turn a dumb kid into a smart kid, and vice versa.

Children are told to go away and do their own thing. They’re not signed up for sports or music classes, and if they are they’re allowed to drop out the moment they start to struggle or get bored. It’s obviously not their thing. One day they’ll find that magical skill they have hidden inside them and they’ll become good at something. Until then, let them do as they want.

The second mindset is the growth mindset. This focuses on effort instead of innate skill. This one goes hand in hand with Gladwell’s findings. Every minute practicing something improves your skill in that area. Children are signed up for classes. Parents tend to take more of an interest in their progress at school and whatever other skills they’re working on.

The second group performs better, tends to be happier, and spends longer trying at hard tasks before giving up. They also tend to choose harder tasks to get more of challenge, and enjoy these tasks more than those with a fixed mindset. The difference is so extreme that in one experiment, the situations the two groups were put in differed by only one sentence. For one group the sentence was from a fixed mindset ‘you’re so smart’ the other from a growth mindset ‘you must’ve worked really hard.’

Needless to say, the growth mindset improved a lot more on further tests than the fixed mindset. They chose to take on a further more challenging test more often than the fixed mindset who opted for an easier test. And most surprising of all, when later given a test of the same level as the first one, the growth mindset performed better than they had before, while the fixed mindset children performed worse than their previous score.

I found this book really interesting.  There’s a lot in here I think everyone should know about. And it’s all very well written and easily accessible to a wide range of readers. The examples were equal amounts of entertaining and fascinating. This is a must read for anyone with any interest in the subject.

It would’ve got a five star rating from me, but by the end it got a little repetitive. Good. Definitely interesting and entertaining. But once the idea is explained and you’ve read a few examples, it’s a simple concept to grasp. And then there’s the rest of the book to get through, which is still entertaining, but you can pretty much guess what’s going to be said. So four stars. 

For more reviews on this book go to: https://www.goodreads.com/book/show/40745.Mindset?from_search=true&search_version=service

Advertisements

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out / Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out / Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out / Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out / Change )

Connecting to %s