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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.
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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!
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TOP 100 REVIEWERon 8 November 2012
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.
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on 3 January 2010
With little to go on aside from a recommendation that Carol Dweck was sound in her approach I ordered this book. It's one of those where it all makes such good sense that you want to rush out and tell everyone you know to read it; especuially anyone with children or youngsters around. Her messages are simple, but so well argued that you can't take a cynical or negative view of its contents.
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on 10 April 2011
The main message is excellent. The fact that a growth mindset can offer more benefits when compared to the fixed mindset is great to know and to apply.


This book has overall a very weak argumentation and very shallow reasoning to get the message across. This book is clearly written for a bigger public but if her research has the same thinking errors I am wondering if I am reading the right book.

The author uses "argumentation by examples". Tons of examples are actually given to get the point across. Sadly the same logic can be used to give counter arguments for each example given. Just providing many examples is not a valid way to make a strong case, especially as the author selects examples that fits best her own theory. You can prove almost anything with that type of logic, but along as the book sells I guess...

Some examples of the weak argumentations used:

Tiger Woods gets classified under the growth mindset and therefore he is "gooood" and we only read on the success stories of Tiger Woods. As the book was released in 2006 we know by now that Tiger Woods had during his success years also a different aspect of his personality ongoing. This detail was illustrated in the years after, resulting in a messy divorce. Oops the growth-mindset theory for Tiger Woods might be not that excellent fit anymore.

John McEnroe on the other hand gets classified under the fixed mindset and therefore he is "baaaaad". The author gives many examples explaining his fixed mindset attitude but she forgets to mention that John McEnroe might have been juiced up with steroids at the time (Ref McEnroe's own statements). And yes these steroids made him act with more "character" during competition. Oops there goes the fixed mindset theory for John McEnroe also.

Sadly this sort of examples-argumentation goes on and on.

Perhaps the best case is illustrated on page 174 (paperback edition - 2008). The author writes "Parents and teachers who send fixed-mindset messages are like France, and parents and teachers who send growth-mindset messages are like Italy". The author got this insight while eating in a restaurant in Italy. I quote "When we got there and found a little family restaurant, tears started streaming down my face. I felt so nurtured. I said to David, 'You know, in France, when they're nice to you, you feel like you've passed a test. But in Italy, there is no test'". Based the information collected during a dinner in a restaurant and a short stay in France, it is clear for the author that France (yes the whole nation) has a fixed mindset and that Italy (yep again that whole country again) has a growth mindset. How more shallow can you go? And nope this was not given as an illustration.

Look if you write first that the growth-mindset makes you step away from judging and biased fixed opinions I suggest the author takes her own medicine. Judging a whole nation and labeling it with "growth or fixed mindset" is a very poor reasoning skill. And I am not even French!

The same style of examples and argumentation are given for relationships, business, sport, parents, teachers...The growth mindset gets used here as THE golden standard such it can explain all which is a pity. If we have to extrapolate the same reasoning skills shown here to the actually research for this book we should be very worried.

So is it worthwhile to read this book?...NO

Is it worthwhile to know about the main idea?....yes very. But there are faster ways to get to the idea without reading this book.

1 The mindsets
2 Inside the mindsets
3 The truth about ability and accomplishment
4 Sport: The mindset of a champion
5 Business: Mindset and Leadership
6 Relationships: Mindsets in love (or not)
7 Parents, teachers, and coaches: Where do mindsets come from?
8 Changing mindsets
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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.
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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.
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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.
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on 11 October 2015
I seem to have the same issue with this book that a few others have and wish I could give separate reviews for content and style.

Content: 5*. I would give it 6 if I could. Dweck has clearly researched hard and come up with a completely revolutionary idea. It will change the way I teach, learn and raise my children. I am already inspired to start living the 'growth' lifestyle and encouraging it in those around me. It is most DEFINITELY worth a read, particularly for lifelong high-achievers. I feel liberated and so touched to see that I am not the only one with particular behaviour patterns and fears.

Style: 3, maybe even 2*. It seems that although one of the main principles of the book is 'set high standards', Dweck has not granted this to her readers. It is filled to the brim with anecdotes, stories and lists of why growth = good, fixed = bad. She taunts the reader with talk of her research, workshops, numbers, but never goes into detail or allows us the academic information and specified terminology which we are desperate for.

In conclusion, buy it, read it, live it. However, don't feel guilty about skipping the bits that are irrelevant to your life (ie. the CEO section for a school-teacher or the like), and where there are four anecdotes in a small section, only bother to read one or two of them, you'll probably get the idea!
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on 21 September 2011
Sometimes one reads a book that is so convincing that all the arguements against it seem trivial in the extreme. 'Mindset', in my opinion, is a typical example of this, although it has imperfections. Not only is it a powerful thesis backed by overwhelming evidence and persuasive power, it has the extraordinary ability to linger memorably in the mind long after the last chapter; a true measure of an influential reading experience.
Dweck's passion for teaching and learning is evident throughout, producing a layer of academic acumen that strengthens her case. Also, there is a compassion towards her learners, particularly the children , that says a great deal about her and her feelings towards her subjects. It's heartbreaking to think that there are teachers out there- many of them that have been teaching and lecturing for years - that do not share her views- or her caring attitude- about the 'growth mindset.' of her learners. In fact, it is disturbing to think they might be hindered in their lifes by out-dated views.
I wish every class in the world was aware about the views and opinions expressed in this book. The world would be a richer place for it. For example, chapter 3- exploring the truth about ability and accomplishment- is simply a wonderful exposition about the flexibility of the human mind. (It should be shown to every child who mistakenly believes that he/she is not artistic.) Limiting beliefs can be shattered by this level of research.
On the downside, Dweck really does hammer the message home about the ability of the mind to grow and expand it's skill base. Sometimes it's too much and repetitive. Since she's so strong with her case, it can be like she's preaching to the converted after the first 3 chapters. (Chapter 5 on Business is far too long-winded and dull).
In addition, I am not too keen on branding people in this fashion. I mean, is really ethical to put someone in a box labelled 'Fixed-mindset'- is this not a generalisation and de-humanising? If so, maybe fans of John McEnroe should steer well clear of this as he gets a rough ride in this book. By the way, hasn't he grown his skills as a tennis commentator over the years?
In summary, an excellent book on the psychology of success; if a little dry and repetitive for my tastes.
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