Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

Summary Written by Aisha DaCosta
"It’s not always the people who start out the smartest who end up the smartest."

- Mindset, page 5

The Big Idea

Magic vs. Art

"The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life."- Mindset, page 6

Is life about the “magic” or the “art”? The magic is effortless, endowed by the gods, flawless, and perfect, much like the fixed mindset. Magic is special, perfect, and its prowess must be validated in order for it to be real. Magic is dismissed when it fails to hide the coin behind the ear or make the lovely assistant disappear. Magic is or it is not. Art on the other hand allows for imperfections. It is driven by passion and requires constant honing in order for it to be perceived as beautiful. Art is found in da Vinci’s Mona Lisa as well as the squiggly lines of Jackson Pollock. Much like the growth mindset, art is fearless in the face of imperfection. Art lusts for feedback and desires only to resonate with the soul.

The fixed mindset adheres to the magic of the comfort zone, which can prove to be very constricting. As the fixed mindset permeates one’s thoughts it allows for complacency in one’s actions and justifies shunning anything that challenges one’s current beliefs. The growth mindset thrives in the art of the possibilities that lay outside the box. It encourages risk taking and facing challenges with an open mind. It allows for the cultivation of one’s desired results.

The author says that most people view drawing as a magical ability that only a select few possess, and only a select few will ever possess. This view is widely held because people don’t understand the learnable components of drawing, such as the ability to perceive edges, spaces, relationships, lights and shadows, and the whole. Each component is a learnable skill that is combined into the process of drawing. The same is true for the view adopted for life. There are two choices: embrace the art of success and learn to master its components and the process involved (growth) or wait for something magical to happen (fixed).

Insight #1

The Deception of Amazing: Get Outside Your Comfort Zone!

"Everyone, of whatever age and circumstance, is capable of self-transformation."- Mindset, page 141

You can change your intelligence, personality, thoughts, and behaviors. The real question is, will you? Dweck points out that “people often like the things that work against their growth…there is tremendous risk in leaving what one does well to attempt to master something new.” Everyone loves the magic that lies within them; their strengths and talents that effortlessly yield amazing results.

To combat this natural tendency to favor “the magic” over “the art” one must:

1. Believe in human development and constantly try to improve
2. Surround yourself with people that challenge you to grow
3. Look squarely at your mistakes and deficiencies
4. Proceed with confidence grounded in facts not fantasies about your talents

Success does not have an expiration date. Learn and practice the strategies that will help you succeed.

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Insight #2

Beware of the words you use: Failure is not an adjective!

"Beware of success. It can knock you into a fixed mindset."- Mindset, page 210

Days after losing 2011 NBA finals Lebron James said that “losing was the best thing that could have happened to us.” His loss was a very humbling experience that forced him to re-evaluate himself and train harder to create a cohesive union amongst his teammates; it was his reality check. Embracing failure as an action (I failed) that can be corrected, as opposed to an identity (I am a failure), is a crucial aspect of the growth mindset. Equally important, is recognizing that fixed beliefs such as “I won because I have talent. Therefore I will keep winning” are just as destructive as assigning failure as an identity. The defeat made the superstar human again. In his humanity he found humility and a new resiliency.

After reading, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, I became more aware of my thoughts and behaviors. Primarily I have a growth mindset (most people won’t admit to having a fixed mindset) but there are moments when I fall victim to “the magic”. This book has helped shaped my approach to parenting, relationships, and business. When my son favors doing things that don’t challenge his ego I am now better prepared to help him embrace “the art”. In business, I am better equipped to face my fears and accept the challenges. Your mindset is the greatest determining factor in your ability to achieve your true potential.

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Carol S. Dweck

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., is one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation and is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. Her research has focused on why people succeed and how to foster success. She has held professorships at Columbia and Harvard Universities, has lectured all over the world, and has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her scholarly book Self-Theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development was named Book of the Year by the World Education Federation. Her work has been featured in such publications as The New Yorker, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe, and she has appeared on Today and 20/20.

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