The Milford administrators are reading a wonderful book, and I was smart enough to follow their lead and decide to read it myself. Called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, it’s an examination of how we achieve and handle life’s challenges.
Written by Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, the book examines how powerful our mind’s attitudes can be in expanding or limiting our horizons. Dr. Dweck defines two basic “mindsets” that direct us: a “fixed” and a “growth” mindset.
Basically, someone in a “fixed” mindset believes you are who you are: you have “a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character” (quoted from Mindset). These cannot change.
However, someone in a “growth” mindset believes “your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts” (quoted from Mindset). While people with this mindset understand there are limitations to your capabilities (we can’t all become Mozart just through effort), they do believe true potential is unknowable and can be developed.
For instance: a person in a fixed mindset is much more likely to give up trying if they don’t get it right the first time – because if they haven’t gotten it right quickly, then obviously they can’t do it, and they don’t want to prove themselves a failure and waste time on something that isn’t going to happen.
Someone coming from a growth mindset, however, is excited when they fail, when something doesn’t come easily. This is a challenge for them to tackle, to learn and grow and expand.
This book was extremely powerful for me. I think it’s rare for a person to be completely in one mindset or another, and I was able to see how I exist in different mindsets in different situations. I also saw how I grew up with much more tendency toward a fixed mindset, but thankfully broke out of that as I faced more and more challenges throughout my life.
I’d highly recommend picking up a copy of this book to help guide your children (and yourself!) through the obstacles they will face, now and in the future. It’s an easy, quick read (it includes some great examples, and you can also skim through a lot of it), and it’s definitely worth having a flashlight shown on places where you are “fixed” vs. “growth.” The examples also are often surprising, and really demonstrate how it may be mindset – and not other factors – that are limiting others’ and our own successes.
I have a couple people on the waiting list for my book, but if you’d like to borrow it, let me know. If you’d like to pick up your own copy, here it is on Amazon.