Book Notes: Mindset


Mindset constrasts growth and fixed mindsets. It posits that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.

The Mindsets

The growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others.

The growth mindset acknowledges that everyone starts from some base background. And that everyone can grow from this base.

This is opposed to the fixed mindset. A person with a fixed mindset believes that their lot in life is their lot in life and it cannot be changed much.

It’s neither nature nor nuture that determines intelligence. Both matter.

Believing that your qualities are carved in stone – the fixed mindset – creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over.

People with a fixed mindset focus on proving how smart they are rather than focusing on improving how smart they are.

…studies show that people are terrible at estimating their abilities. We found that people greatly misestimated their performance and ability. But it was those with the fixed mindset who accounted for almost all the inaccuracy. The people with the growth mindset were amazingly accurate.

Inside the Mindsets

Mindsets affect interpersonal relationships, too.

People with the fixed mindset said the ideal mate would: Put them on a pedestal. Make them feel perfect. Worship them. In other words, the perfect mate would enshrine their fixed qualities.

This is in contrast to partners with a growth mindset.

People with the growth mindset hoped for a different kind of partner. They said their ideal mate was someone who would: See their faults and help them to work on them. Challenge them to become a better person. Encourage them to learn new things.

The mindsets are related to failure.

Even in the growth mindset, failure can be a painful experience. But it doesn’t define you. It’s a problem to be faced, dealt with, and learned from.

The two mindsets also have a contrasting relationship with effort.

Why is effort so terrifying? There are two reasons. One is that in the fixed mindset, great geniuses are not supposed to need it. So just needing it casts a shadow on your ability. The second is that it robs you of all of your excuses. Without effort, you can always say, ‘I could have been…’. But once you try, you can’t say that anymore.

The growth mindset focuses on progress. The fixed mindset focuses on outcome.

In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail – or if you’re not the best – it’s all been wasted. The growth midnset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome. They’re tackling problems, charting new courses, working on important issues.

Sports: The Mindset of a Champion

Finding #1: Those with the growth mindset found success in doing their best, in learning and improving. And this is exactly what we find in the champions.

Finding #2: Those with the growth mindset found setbacks motivating. They’re informative. They’re a wakeup call.

Finding #3: People with the growth mindset in sports took charge of the processes that bring success and that maintain it.

Relationships: Mindsets in Love

Relationships that work require work. Partners with a fixed mindset believe in fairy tales and magic.

One problem is that people with the fixed mindset expect everything good to happen automatically. It’s not that the partners will work to help each other solve their problems or gain skills.

This also work also includes communication.

Part of the low-effort belief is the idea that couples should be able to read each other’s minds. But this is impossible. Mind reading instead of communicating inevitably backfires.

Communication is required because partners are two distinct people with distinct views.

It’s strange to believe in mind reading. But it makes sense when you realize that many people with a fixed mindset believe that a couple should share all of each other’s views.

And conflict is not negative. It is a part of relationships.

The second big difficulty with the fixed mindset is the belief that problems are a sign of deep-seated flaws. But just as there are no great achievements without setbacks, there are no great relationships without conflict and problems along the way.