Book Review - February 2018

Mindset - The New Psychology of Success

Book by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

Review by Jessie Thiel

As managers, directors, trainers and instructional designers, we influence and are often responsible for professional growth and educational opportunities of our fellow employees.  Whether we realize it or not, the approach we take to learning and development can impact the success of educational programming for satisfying business objectives.  In her book, Mindset, Carol Dweck explores learning through two different approaches: what she describes as the fixed mindset and the growth mindset.  Understanding the difference between these two mindsets and operating with sensitivity to both approaches can empower us, the people that we serve, and the businesses we support.

Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University, begins by explaining what constitutes the two different mindsets and describes specific scenarios that inspired her research.  She noticed there is a distinct difference in the approach people have to mastering difficult material or tasks and the learning processes that they employ based on their approach.  She explains that some people believe in and rely on innate qualities and natural ability as a predetermined path to success or failure (the fixed mindset), while others believe that effort and perseverance play a significant role in both success and failure (the growth mindset).  While her research consists of countless case studies about attitudes and decisions that indicate one mindset or the other and the consequences that follow, her book also includes neurological findings to support the physiological brain growth that occurs when people apply themselves and true learning takes place. 

Dweck does not limit applications of the two mindsets to intellectual growth, but includes the implications for physical training of athletes, attitudes of business leaders in successful industries, and even social and emotional opportunities in interpersonal relationships.  Although the pages are filled with Dweck’s extensive research, her conversational tone relays case studies of well known athletes, coaches and CEO’s along with various student populations, making it a quick read.  She challenges her readers to view their own lives through a growth mindset approach and even includes detailed steps on how to implement this perspective successfully.

I recommend this book to anyone looking for inspiration to grow in their own professional role or aiming to better understand and meet the needs of their constituents.  The book’s organization combined with the author’s writing style provide a collection of case studies, concrete examples and practical steps that can be used as a reference manual for educators, coaches, and business leaders alike.

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