Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
by Carol S. Dweck

This is a classic book that everyone should read, whether you are a newlywed, parent, manager or coach. Written by Carol Dweck, Ph.D. who is a renowned Stanford University psychologist, she shares decades of research on the power of mindset.  The book defines the two mindsets – fixed and growth oriented – and how they impact everything from parenting, to coaching, to teaching, to excelling in sports and business.  She provides examples of what each mindset looks like.

Being a tennis player, I was surprised at her use of John McEnroe as an example of someone with a fixed mindset. People with fixed mindset view themselves as winners or losers and when John was not playing well, he always blamed others.  His father pushed him and wanted him to be successful; yet, John never seemed to enjoy playing tennis because his father only rewarded him when he won. John admitted to enjoying playing tennis when he was very young but soon after he became famous, he enjoyed only the success that it brought him.

In contrast, given that I do a lot of coaching and mentoring, I found her approach for how to use the growth mindset approach to build confidence in people and talk about failure useful. The example that most resonated in the book was how a parent talked with their child who had recently begun gymnastics and entered her first gymnastics meet hoping to win some events. She ended up not winning anything and her parents sat her down to explain, “Elizabeth, I know how you feel. It’s so disappointing to have your hopes up, performing your best and still not to win. But you know, you haven’t really earned it yet. There were many girls there who have been in gymnastics longer than you and who have worked a lot harder than you. If this is something you really want, then it is something you have to continue and really work for.”  I thought this was such an empathic and helpful way to talk about failure because it will allow their child to want to continue to grow versus John McEnroe’s father who only rewarded him for his results.  That is the essence of mindset – it is all about viewing people as having the potential to improve and learning how to create a supportive growth-oriented environment.



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