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Mindset – the new psychology of success by Carol S Dweck is a book about how your beliefs affect your life. The main premise of the book is that some people have what’s called a fixed mindset and some people have what’s called a growth mindset.

This belief limits our potential or enables our success. It often marks the difference between excellence and mediocrity.

Fixed vs Growth mindset

What is your mindset? It is really important to understand what it is because much of who you are on a day-to-day basis comes from it. Your mindset is basically the view you have of your qualities and characteristics….Where they come from and whether you can change them or not.

Fixed Mindset: It is the belief that your qualities are carved in stone and you can’t change them. You don’t see things like creativity, intelligence and your personality as things that can be developed. They are fixed.

Growth mindset: It is the belief that all of these things can be developed through effort. You recognize that some people differ greatly in aptitudes, but you believe that anyone can change and grow with effort.

difference between growth and fixed mindsetIn real life, it is not black or white. You will have a fixed mindset about certain things in your life and you will have growth mindset about other things. For example, I’ve always had a fixed mindset for anything related to fitness and money. I’ve always had the belief that even though I used to be really skinny, I would be able to get muscular by training hard at the gym. The idea that I just didn’t have a good genetic never crossed my mind even once.

Same with money. Even though I pretty much come from poverty, I always knew that I could start a business and become rich. On the other hand, for a really long time I had a fixed mindset when it comes to social skills. I’ve always been a shy guy…I used to also be terrified of public speaking. It was by far my biggest fear…I thought to myself “this is just the way I am and there is nothing I can do about it. Some people are extroverted and some people are introverted. I’ll  never be able to do public speaking”. At some point I realized that people skills and public speaking are skills that can be learned and I decided to work to become better at it. I basically shifted to a growth mindset.

Can the mindset have such a big impact?

The answer is yes. With a fixed mindset, you don’t EVEN TRY to get better. How can you get better at something if you don’t even try? Having a fixed mindset also make criticism be seen as an attack on your character. People with a fixed mindset see criticism as something that should be avoided at all cost. 

People with a growth mindset welcome criticism because they know that if they listen to it and adjust their behavior, they will get better. Their growth mindset also encourage learning and practicing and this is why they achieve more. If you truly believe that you can improve at something, you will be much more likely to go all in and learn as much as possible and take as much action as possible in order to get better.

To help illustrate the main difference between the two mindset, the author makes you do an exercise. Read the description below and ask yourself how you would respond if it happened to you.

“One day, you go to a class that is really important to you and that you like a lot. The professor returns the midterm papers to the class. You got a C+. You’ve very disappointed. That evening on the way back to your home, you find that you’ve gotten a parking ticket. Being really frustrated, you call your best friend to share your experience but are sort of brushed off. ”

How would you respond in that situation? If you thought something like  “What I shitty day…I would probably feel like a failure, I would probably be mad and would feel like there is no point to study anymore for this class”, it means that you have a fixed mindset. If you thought something like: “That’s not good, but next time I’m going to study harder and I’m going to get a better grade. I got a parking ticket but I probably shouldn’t have parked there. I’ll know for next time” then it means that you have a growth mindset.

Being mad about the situation is not the problem. Both people with a fixed and a growth mindset are mad about the situation…but people with the fixed mindset label themselves and give up. On the other hand, people with the growth mindset don’t label themselves and they learn from their mistakes and keep working. The growth mindset literally enables them to convert life’s setbacks into future successes.

People with a fixed mindset see everything around them as fixed in stone. They see someone having success and they immediately assume that this person must be really smart. They say stuff like “He must have a really high IQ” or “He is really gifted” or “He is really smart”. The logic behind this fixed mindset is that if you have success, you are a smart person and if you not, it means you are not smart. This is why most of the time people with fixed mindset need to prove that they are smart all the time. Most of them will pick easier challenges so success is more likely. They want to avoid failure as much as possible because if they fail, it would mean that they are not smart and it would hurt their ego. They basically live a life that is well below their real potential.

On the other hand, people with a growth mindset are not afraid to set high goals because even if they fail, they know they will learn a lot and they will come back stronger. They live a life that reflects their true potential because they grow as much as possible.

Your mindset starts to develop really young

In one of the author’s studies, researchers offered four-year-olds a choice. They basically had the choice between redo an easy puzzle or they could try a harder one. Even at the early age of 4 years old, you could see a difference between the ones with a fixed mindset versus the ones with a growth mindset. The ones with a fixed mindset stuck with the safe one wheres the ones with the growth mindset tried the harder one. Kids with the fixed mindsets told the researchers that  “ smart kids don’t make mistakes”.

Another example the author gives in the book is about students at the university of Hong Kong. Because of the fact that everything is in English and some students are more fluent than others, this can have a huge impact on their success. The main question the researchers asked themselves in that study was : who would pass up a free opportunity to improve their life success?

When the students arrived at the register, they were asked if they would like a free course to improve their English is the university provided one…The result was that those with a growth mindset were interested in the offer and those with a fixed mindset were not interested in the offer at all.

It is the growth mindset that is the starting point for change. It the person doesn’t believe that it is possible to get better at something, that person just won’t take action. This is why your mindset is so important. It is a HUGE IMPACT on your quality of life.

All the highly successful people of this world have a growth mindset (in the area where they are successful anyways). Take Lebron James for example. A few days after losing the 2011 NBA finals, he said “losing was the best thing that could have happened to us.” He said that this loss was a humbling experience for him because it forced him to re-evaluate himself and train harder. It was an instant reality check for him.

Notice how he embraced failure as an action (I failed) that can be corrected with efforts as opposed to an identity (I am a failure). He has a growth mindset. Someone like him could had just said something like: “We have been unlucky this year, but we are the best and we are going to win next year”. By saying that, he would have adopted a fixed mindset. It would have meant that he was NOT going to work hard to get better. Instead, he adopted a growth mindset and realized that with more work, he and his team will get there.

Here is a really graphic that comes from the book that shows the difference between both mindset.

fixed vs growth mindset graphics


Overall, this book is great. I found it too simplistic at some point, but the author was just trying to cater to a large audience. This book reinforce the idea that your beliefs are EXTREMELY important when it comes to success in life. Forget about IQ, natural talent, genetics, etc…It’s all about your BELIEFS. This is why I incorporate a few exercises to change my beliefs in my morning routine that I do every day. Since I have been doing this, I started to have tremendous success in my life. Anyways, I highly recommend you to read the book,

Click Here to see the book on Amazon

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