Mindset By Carol Dweck: A Review

Your mind has power over your end game. Carol S. Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success shows you just how vital your self-perception is to your success. 

How do you see yourself? Do you investigate further than what you see in the mirror every day? Is how you see yourself as a child the same as how you see yourself now, stunted and paralyzed like a snapshot of a moment? If this is the case, you are displaying a fixed mindset. It may appear to be solid and strong, but it is also inflexible, unable to weather the changes surrounding you.

The fixed type of mindset would have helped you succeed with life centuries ago. Sadly, some may have even faked it a mere decades ago. After all, there was a time when the emphasis was on status. If you came from a wealthy family, you were also labeled as wealthy, although you did not have anything to do with earning money. The money has always been there, even before you came along. 

These days, you must set out to prove yourself. Even the scions of millionaires and billionaires are struggling to establish their own names. However, they can be stuck under the shadows of their parents if they let it be. Nevertheless, some have found a means of escaping their unwanted legacies by making a name for themselves. These are the ones who do not want to get stuck. They may have everything – money, power, fame – but they know that true success lies in the becoming. 

Of course, you will still see some people clinging to the coattails of their powerful dads or the apron strings of their overprotective moms. These are people who do not have any desire to grow whatsoever. Their fixed mindset gives them power, albeit an imagined one. Yes, life can be unfair. Sometimes, people who have not really grown up can have all the money and power they want. 

Deep inside, though, do you really think they are that happy? 

Don’t you think nobody ever reminds them that whatever they have has merely been given? They have done nothing to earn their money, title, or power. 

How about you? Would you be content with being the son or daughter of so-and-so? 

Now, if you were born on the other side of the tracks, would you also accept that fate? Would you just give up and say, “But I cannot be anything because I was born a certain way”? 

Becoming Over Being

Dweck says that “becoming is better than being.” There is a strong truth in this as becoming suggests something active. You are moving towards something. You are not just static, taking in what is being given to you. Isn’t that what being suggests?

Do you simply accept what fate has given to you? 

Or, do you see it as a Hero’s journey, where you are just poised at the beginning moving towards that destiny – actively becoming? 

Of course, there is a pride in being, too. It is what you are – and you should respect who you are as a person. However, Dweck’s book also questions you with: “why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better?” 

Nobody is saying you are nothing right now. Everyone has that tremulous potential energy, waiting to be unleashed.

Yes, you may be an awesome person, but you are limiting yourself if you cannot let yourself become an even more evolved version of yourself? 

Inheriting what you have limits you. It puts you in danger of being lazy and uncreative. It makes your destiny forced and fixed. Therefore, you cannot say that you have made something out of yourself. You will be at the end of your life, wondering what could have been. 

The word “becoming” implies that you have not yet reached your final form. While you may be strong now, you are focused on getting stronger. The growth mindset helps people to continuously hone current talents while developing others through hard work. A person with such a perspective is more in control of his life than someone who accepts everything as an innate gift. 

Even Michelle Obama chose « Becoming » as the title of her book after a series of other working titles that she refers to as bloopers. She does not like the idea of reaching the final destination because it makes everything finite. Becoming, on the other hand, is a testament to someone’s continuous evolution. Michelle wants to be always evolving, changing into something better, instead of getting stuck. What she may have dreamed of as a child does not have to be the endpoint but rather a springboard for what could be next. 

Michelle Obama is undoubtedly a force to reckon with. Even at what we perceive to be the height of success, she understands that she can continue to evolve. She enjoys the creative power that every person has been given and makes the most of it.

Overcoming Labels

If you have a growth mindset, you do not want to be stuck because of a label. Remember when you were a teenager? You may have been awkward-looking, with pimples and braces. Does that mean you will be the same forever? No. 

Did you go through a period of losing: academics, romantic relationships, finances, and family life? Most of us have failed at something at some point. It does not mean that we will remain those so-called losers. 

The growth mindset provides you with possibilities and with a wider room to grow.

Putting in Effort

After all, Dweck also emphasizes that “no matter what your ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.” So, for example, you may have the talent to draw. You scribble here and there, but stop learning new techniques. Eventually, you will find others who have not started as strongly as you did, surpassing your talent. You have a talent, innate and undeveloped, while other artists have decided to reach for more, thus being more accomplished than you. The raw, born artist becomes nothing more than a memory, while the developed ones reach for the pinnacle of their dreams. 

You must work toward your goals. By doing this, your accomplishments feel more like they belong to you. They are not just handed down to you, like an inheritance. You will better appreciate what you have worked hard to achieve. This is why artists still go to art school, and actors even go to drama school. No matter how good you are, someone has more experience. People who have more experience can serve as mentors. 

Effort always conquers all. A diligent student can still overcome the rest in a class of effortless geniuses if they decide to remain stagnant. 

Forward Movement

A growth mindset sees you branching upwards and outwards. You are meant to share what you have learned, and you are meant to continue finding ways to progress. Do not get stuck. 

After all, “if you don’t give anything, don’t expect anything. Success is not coming to you, you must come to it.” Even the most talented people can get stuck in a fixed mindset. They may think that they have been given a gift. However, these people will be left behind while others understand and acknowledge their weaknesses to improve on them. You cannot be successful if you remain in your little box, unwilling to explore what else is out there. 

Some people have undeniable, raw talent. People notice them right away because of this talent. However, nobody is perfect. Each person should continue looking at his mistakes so that he can correct them. If he does not do that, he will continue being flawed. The cracks can become huge and collapsible. 

I have to admit that some talents seem to be magical. When I was young, children with natural vocal ability usually get picked to sing for school performances. But do any of them really become more than that? Perhaps. Yes, some do become a lot more than just that boy or girl the teacher used to pick to take lead vocals for in-class presentations. Famous singers may have begun their journey this way. However, they had to work hard by going to vocal training, finding agents, and making the right connections. A series of necessary tasks should be completed for someone to reach their dreams. 

To ensure forward movement, you need to acknowledge the need to admit your flaws and improve your mistakes and imperfections. Not everyone seems comfortable about investigating their weaknesses. They would rather lie to themselves. In this state, they find themselves stuck, not moving forward. 

It is in the Journey

While this may sound like a broken record, but let us say it again: 

The journey should also be enjoyed as thoroughly as or even more so than the destination. 

Even Dweck acknowledged this truth when she said that she derives “just as much happiness from the process as from the results.”

The journey is part of the becoming. This is when you can truly understand why a growth mindset is fulfilling. To experience the growth in each of the tasks that you have set for yourself is rewarding. 

It is in the journey that you will experience failures. You have decided to leave your box where you are king or queen and have ventured into the unknown. It is through challenging yourself that you discover your full capacity. 

People with a growth mindset enjoy the challenge. They do not throw a tantrum because they do not know all the answers yet. Instead, they continue seeking the answers. The problem-solving process is a learning process. This is where you struggle to get through some tough obstacles. In breaking through those obstacles, you can prove that you are capable of resilience, learning, and progress. 

Even in Mathematics, it is not the answer that shows your wisdom. The process and the mental calisthenics that allow you to go through that process are the learning’s real gems. 

Managing Change

A growth mindset welcomes change. It understands that change, no matter how overwhelming and disorienting, is necessary to put you at a new level in life. Sometimes, the shift can be in the guise of something negative. It can be a job loss that forces you to see how you have limited yourself in one little corner for several years. 

Of course, this is not always the case. Sometimes, you lose your dream job. It can be devastating, nobody is questioning that. However, when this happens, you realize that there is more to life than what you used to have. When you are trapped in a corner, sometimes that is the time your instincts go into high gear. You realize that you need to be more creative, find something that will help you thrive within that change. 

“True self-confidence is “the courage to be open—to welcome change and new ideas regardless of their source.” 

If you have enough confidence, you should take on any change that comes your way. You will believe in your capacity to handle stress and strife. What you need is confidence in yourself and how things around you can work to your advantage. The universe can help you become who you are meant to be – but you need to put in the necessary work.

Readiness to Grow

“Real self-confidence is not reflected in a title, an expensive suit, a fancy car, or a series of acquisitions. It is reflected in your mindset: your readiness to grow.”

Here is the thing, though. Sometimes, you are aware of the power of the growth mindset. You have read about it. People attest to it. But are you ready to grow?

Growing and changing can be a stressful process. Some people just do not want to go through with it. People with a fixed mindset justify this choice by saying that they are content with what they have and what they are. These people cover it up with flowery words about how they are grateful for what they have been given, but they are not greedy for success.

Perhaps they are right, in some way. Some failures and moments of being stuck cannot be avoided. But do you stop there? Do you say, Game Over? 

Starstruck and Lost

If you have reached this point of this discussion and are still confused and unready for the next step, what do you think is the problem? Are you looking at talented and successful individuals and saying, “I can never be that person because I do not have Talent X or Money Y”? 

Sometimes, we are content with just deciding that others are better than us at something. We resign ourselves to the level of what we perceive to be our limitation. We just cannot move forward and upward anymore because the energy to do so can seem incredibly high.

But being starstruck and lost can be managed and balanced. Dweck wants you to continue to grow, but I do not think she wants you to pursue illusions. She only wants you to continue seeking your evolution. Evolution is change with a positive slant. You evolve because you adjust yourself to your environment. 

Giving it Time

Before you concede and say that you have lost, remember everyone has his own pace. Even babies reach milestones at different times. There is a broad range, but eventually, babies learn how to talk and walk. Only those with special conditions are further delayed or do not develop at all. Even in such cases, they can still be good at something else. People have been given the intrinsic capability to be good at something. 

“People with the growth mindset know that it takes time for potential to flower.”

This Dweck quote is a reminder that we should not fear a bundle of losses now. We cannot be written off as having a fixed mindset if we continue to try again. 

If at first, we don’t succeed: try and try again. This famous saying may not have been a Dweck original, but it should apply to all of us. As long as you have continued to learn about your goal and know that you can strive towards it through hard work and persistence, you can still flower. 

Fixed Versus Growth Mindset

It all boils down to this. Having a fixed mindset is losing the game even before it has truly started. On the other hand, a growth mindset can provide you with something to strive for. It inspires hard work and persistence. Furthermore, it makes you see yourself in a more positive light. 

Did you lose today? 

If you have, does that mean that you are a loser? No, you are not.

You are struggling with your studies today. Does that mean you can never learn? No, that is not true.

You are at the lowest rung of the corporate ladder today. Does that mean you should remain there? No, you should not.

Everyone can succeed, and everyone has the right to success. It all begins with the right mindset.

by: Rex Marqueses

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