Sunday, July 10, 2011

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

by Carol S. Dweck

The author, a social psychologist, divides people into two types.  One has a fixed mindset and so believes that intelligence and personality are fixed traits that cannot change.  It follows from this view that effort is to be avoided, because if you need to try you must not have talent; that setbacks reflect personally on you (transference of action to individual); that you blame others or yourself for setbacks; and esteem is garnered through the deprecation of others.  The second group is the growth mindset, which believes that intelligence and other traits can be improved on; that success comes through effort; that high standards are a challenge; that flaws should be admitted and faced; that praise should focus on effort, not ability; and that setbacks are not personal.  She then applies this mindset theory to show how to deal best with school, teaching, parenting, relationships, and business.

Dweck writes in a readable, conversational style with lots of real-world examples and citations from her personal research.  There’s nothing earth-shatteringly revelatory here, but it’s genuine; as someone who was praised ad nauseam for my intelligence as a child, I have seen many of these results first hand.  Overall it’s a well-reasoned and persuasive book.  Unlike a lot of self-help authors, Dweck writes honestly about the lack of quick fixes and the struggle it takes to change into a healthy growth mindset, and gives clear tips on how to do so.  This is no pie in the sky psycho-babble; it’s an easy read with powerful, practical advice.

four stars