132 of 136 people found the following review helpful
on 6 August 2012
Despite the three star evaluation, do not underestimate the quality of the central thesis of this book. The idea that there are two mindsets - fixed and growth - and that these mindsets are basic in determining many things about success and happiness in life, is incontrovertible, radical, and perception shifting. Dweck has based the book on a bedrock of sound, academic research. She has applied it to several key spheres of life. She has witnessed its power to change lives.
What's the problem then? The problem is this book and how it is written; specifically, Dweck underestimates her audience's ability to handle the strong stuff. Instead of explication and application, we are treated to story after story, anecdote upon anecdote, and imaginary dialogues with non-existent people. I'm by nature a careful reader but I found myself flicking, scanning and otherwise anxious to get it finished. That's what I usually do when I read the psychology section of a magazine.
And the worst about it is, Dweck has so much of depth and detail to say. I suspect that she has said it in her more academic book on the same subject, 'Self-Theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality and Development'. I suspect, further, that someone convinced her of the need to write a popular account of findings, dumbed down for us plebs. Perhaps this is slightly unfair; Dweck's passion for facilitating positive change in people's lives does shine through. But I needed less motivational patter, more on her theory of motivation. I'm a big boy, I can take it.
What frustrated me the most were the hints in her book of the workshops and training sessions she has supervised in order to help people grow a growth mindset (140-141 and 218-220). I wanted details, details, details. Instead, there were brief overviews, references to techniques without the possibility of follow-up, and dead ends. But surely this should be the very hub of the book. The concept of 'how to' might seem beneath the purview of lofty academics but for the average buyer of this book I'm guessing this is almost all of what is required. A large chunk of other reviewers seem to agree.
As well as more detail on use and how-to, I'd have appreciated some thought from the other end of the spectrum. What I mean is, if true, I think Dweck's theory constitutes a deep interpretation of human nature. She does recognise that mindsets run at a more basic level than the techniques and approaches of therapies such as CBT or REBT (216). Maybe I'm over-doing it, but I kept thinking of the debates in pre-Socratic philosophy between the worldviews of being and becoming, Parmenides versus Heraclitus. It also minded me of debates about personal identity and persistence over time i.e. whether personality is fixed, in flux or a fiction. One reason why I rate Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi`s 'flow' concept so highly is because he interacts with it on all these levels.
A few other little points niggled me. Dweck's excursus into business ethics was an exercise in naivety (esp. 118). Her habit of taking every businessperson, every sports star, every relationship issue, and using it to illustrate her fixed/growth dichotomy seemed stretched to me. And an academic writer who feels the need to quote Malcolm Gladwell as one of her prime sources is surely getting things the wrong way round (40, 90, 108-9).
Dweck's fundamental thesis will stay with me. Her stories will not. Her method lies elsewhere. So, probably, should your money.
10 of 10 people found the following review helpful
on 22 February 2012
I genuinely believe that this book is one of the most important books ANYONE can read.
Importantly, this is NOT a quick fix / self help book. It is a box that is built around Carol Dweck's excellent / comprehensive research which examines why some people move forward in their lives without fear of tackling challenges, and why others remain back, hesitant to try something new in case there are made to feel foolish.
I really wish I'd been able to learn about this as a teenager - it would have made a huge impact on my approach to learning. I'm just glad (as a parent) that I've found it now, so I can apply the lessons with how I raise my children.
Yes, I agree with other readers who have said that is can be repetitive and there is definitely an American style to it, however, you need to see past all of that and look to the messages that Dweck is sharing.
It will open up your mind to a realm of possibilities and make you more aware than ever that you can take on challenges that you never thought possible - if you apply the right mindset.
28 of 30 people found the following review helpful
on 21 December 2010
I read the book of Carol Dweck after several other books mentioned her work (Drive by D. Pink and Outliers by Malcolm Gladwell). Unfortunately, the book is a more extensive version of the summaries the other books already gave. Namely, that your mindset determines if and what type of challenges people take and thus how much they are learning. The point is crucial and eye-opening in its implications, namely that almost anybody can be good at what they want as long as they put the effort. No more excuses, not for kids nor teachers, not for employees or employers, and also not for partners in a relationship. Dweck reiterates the importance throughout the book.
However, she hardly outlines how to change your or someone else's mindset. In this way, you are left wondering throughout the book: "I understand the point, now what can I do about it?" This book does not provide that answer. I would recommend (although still not enough 'how') the Talent Code if you want to know more ( The Talent Code: Greatness isn't born. It's grown ).
If there are better books about the 'how', I would really like to know!
4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
on 24 October 2014
Before reading this book I had ready many articles about Dweck and her colleagues' work, so I didn't know whether buying the book would be worthwhile. However, the explanations in the book go deeperhad and this, along with the many examples, makes the key principles clear.
The ideas covered in this book are very powerful and the book covers them well. It is in my top 5 science books, it's that important.
If there's one area in which it could improve, I think the book could give more practical examples of the language to use when praising, particularly for praising children. Every situation is unique and this is probably why it steers away from being too prescriptive in the language to use, but the examples would help think and talk in ways that feel unnatural to many of us.
Overall, I would highly recommend this book and, as I mentioned, it's in my top 5 science books.
3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
on 18 August 2014
As usual I'll start my review by mentioning that as a standard rule I don't review these types of books without first reading through them fully and attempting to apply the advice that they propose. By doing so I can't therefore be accused of reviewing a book I haven't actually read.
I won't write an unnecessarily long review for this book since I don't think it really needs it but I will make a few points which I think need addressing for anyone interested in this book.
The gist of Dr Dweck's message is that there are two different types of mindset and that people more or less fit into one or the other. The `fixed mindset' which is a defeatist, `know your place', `genes determine everything', `I'll never amount to much' mentality. She also presents what she calls a `growth mindset' in which learning, challenge and development become the key mentalities. For example instead of using failure as proof of incompetence you learn to treat it as a challenge to do better.
One could of course debate the validity of her message; it's not academic and doesn't amount to proven science. It is however a remarkably useful way of looking at things and one that has been very beneficial for me personally.
It isn't as easy to implement as she alludes to and the vast majority of people will note elements of their own character in both mindsets, no one will fit 100% into either category. Regardless I think everyone could benefit from adopting a growth mindset and would happily encourage potential readers to try.
Also in response to comments from a few negative reviews criticising the large number of examples she's added for growth mindsets in everyday life.
Actually I think they are necessary since the more examples we have the easier it'll be to apply a growth mindset to our everyday lives and it demonstrates the large spectrum that growth mindsets can apply to. I don't think a shorter book would have driven the message home.
In a nutshell I highly recommend this book to anyone looking at personal development.
61 of 67 people found the following review helpful
on 7 October 2006
That the way we look upon phenomena can have drastic consequences has been known for a long time. It has now been demonstrated that the same goes for intelligence.
This book by Carol Dweck demonstrates, on the basis of good research, that what people think about their own intelligence has far-reaching consequences. Dweck shows that people with a so-called FIXED MINDSET, who see intelligence as unchangeable, develop a tendency to focus on proving that they have that characteristic instead of focusing on the process of learning. They tend to avoid difficult challenges because failing on these could cause them to lose their intelligent appearance. This disregard of challenge and learning hinders them in the development of their learning and in their performance. So it actually hinders them in developing their knowledge, skills and abilities.
However, when people view intelligence as a potential that can be developed, this is called the GROWTH MINDSET, this leads to the tendency to put effort into learning and performing and into developing strategies that enhance learning and long term accomplishments. An implication is that it pays off to help children and students invest in a view of intelligence as something that can be developed. Carol Dweck does not deny that people differ in their natural abilities but she stresses that it is continued effort which makes abilities blossom. Children who have learned to develop a growth mindset know that effort is the main key to creating knowledge and skills.
Fortunately the growth mindset can be taught to people. People who were trapped in a fixed mindset can be freed from it and start building their intelligence. If you are a teacher or a parent you would be wise to take good notice of this message and maybe buy this book. the book contains some good examples of how to help children learn how important it is to work and learn. But really anyone could learn from it.
12 of 13 people found the following review helpful
I read this book when it was first published (2006) and recently re-read it before reading Daniel Siegel's Mindsight: The New Science of Personal Transformation. Presumably he shares my high regard for Carol Dweck's breakthrough insights, as countless other authors have duly acknowledged in books published in recent years. She focuses on two mindsets, one that is fixed and another that can be "grown" with appropriate development. Moreover, she also explains how and why it is possible to change one's mindset. "You have a choice. Mindsets are just beliefs. They're powerful beliefs, but they're just something in your mind, and you can change your mind. As you read [this book], think about where you'd like to go and which mindset will take you there." Long ago, Henry Ford observed, "Whether you think you can or think you can't, you're probably right."
More recently, in Extraordinary Minds, Howard Gardner observes that exceptional individuals "have a special talent for identifying their own strengths and weaknesses." Dweck suggets that those with this talent seem to have a growth mindset. Readers will appreciate her strategic provision of a "Grow Your Mindset" section at the conclusion of each chapter. She poses direct questions, reviews key points, and suggests several different ways to think about how to expand and enrich mindsets to fulfill one's potential at home, at work, in the community, and wherever else has special relationships.
These are among the subjects, topics, and passages that caught my eye:
o "Is Success About Learning -- Or Proving You're Smart?" (Pages 16-17)
o "Mindsets Change the Meaning of Failure" (32-39)
o "Mindsets Change the Meaning of Effort" (39-44)
o "Negative Labels and How They Work" (74-80)
o "Leadership and the Fixed Mindset" (112-114)
o "Groupthink versus We Think" (134-136)
o "Mindsets Falling in Love" (148-157)
o "Bullies and Victims: Revenge Revisited" (165-171)
o "Sending Messages [to Children] About Process and Growth" (177-179)
o "Teachers (and Parents): What Makes a Great Teacher (or Parent)?" (193-202)
I am among those who think that Mindset is among the most important books published during the last decade. While re-reading it again, I was reminded of three key points that help to explain much of human behavior: First, that almost all limits are self-imposed; next, that there is much we cannot control or even influence but we [begin italics] can [end italics] control how we respond to what happens to us; finally, that taking full advantage of a growth mindset requires a commitment no less demanding in terms of its nature and extent than a commitment to peak performance. For example, revelations about such a commitment after decades of research by Anders Ericsson and his associates at Florida State University. (For more about that research, read his HBR article, "The Making of an Expert," and one or more of these books: Daniel Coyle's The Talent Code, Malcolm Gladwell's Outliers, and Geoff Golvin's Talent Is Overrated.) Thank you, Carol Dweck, for helping so many of us to gain a better understanding of who we are, and, of greater importance, of who and what we can perhaps become with a growth mindset.
11 of 12 people found the following review helpful
on 2 September 2009
This is a book that covers an important subject, how to be more successful in learning and in relationships.
The content of "Mindset" is based on solid psychological research by an experienced and eminent professor of psychology.
Carol Dweck employs the concept of mindset. In simple terms, there are two mindsets. In the "fixed mindset", you are likely to give up early when confronted with a challenge in learning or in a relationship. You avoid challenges because you want to avoid the pain that comes from failure. In the "growth mindset", you expect to learn and grow, embrace challenge, overcome setbacks and failure and achieve more.
The book gives clear explanations of how fixed mindsets are created. In children, they are created by what their parents and teachers say. In the fields of sport and music they are created by incorrect words and actions from coaches and teachers. She describes what the costly results of such mindsets are, and how to create growth mindsets to help people achieve more.
With a growth mindset, you are praised for your effort so that you persist to overcome challenges and problems, do not give up early, and achieve more.
The book is not difficult to read, and I think it is one that should be re-read regularly. It is a book that provides a valuable insight to anyone in education, teachers, coaches, parents, students, and anyone involved in a personal relationship.
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
on 28 July 2014
I gave this 4 stars simply because in some places it gets a bit 'preachy', particularly when analysing sports personalities. John McEnroe comes in for a real bashing due to his obnoxious nature caused by his fixed mindset.
Having said that, I thought the whole premise of the book was good, and well-explained. Not dumbed down, but neither too high-brow. Dweck offers the results of scientific research without going over the actual stats, which would bore anyone but the highest end social science student. With a Masters in Linguistics, I know full well how such figures can be interminable reading. Thus she sets herself up for attacks, since she could easily be accused of misrepresenting the findings or being too selective. We have to take her word for it, unless there is an equally-well qualified scientist to debunk her. Everything she does claim makes sense, and I can relate it to my own education, now discovering that I had a fixed mindset, instilled by teachers who just always praised me for being so smart. If only they'd praised my hard work, but you see, all through primary school, I didn't HAVE to work, so the premise of the book falls short there.
Yes, educating children is very complex, as complex as each and every child is an individual, but this is a very good basis for building an education system on, AND very good for adults to realise their own potential (you can do anything with the right mindset and determination). I suspect people who hate 'liberal' agendas would dislike this book since it can come across as saying that every child needs encouraging and therefore NOT being disciplined in the 'right' way or made to understand the reality of limitations, but actually if it results in children seeing their own full potential, then they become responsible for their own destiny and much less likely to blame the world around them - that's hardly a liberal agenda!
I recommended this book heartily to a friend's daughter who is training to be a teacher. Buy it for any other trainees you know (or indeed ANY teacher!) and I lent it to my daughter in the hope it will influence how my granddaughter is raised. It's THAT good.
29 of 32 people found the following review helpful
on 19 February 2012
As an admirer of Dweck's academic work, I had hoped for more from this book. However be warned that this is an attempt to write a populist version of "Self Theories", which is excellent. I think it would be fair to say that Dweck is more interesting when writing as an academic researcher. There is really nothing new in this text and the style is grating at times. The ideas are as fascinating as you would expect but if you've read "Self Theories" you don't really need to read this one.