Sunday, 16 April 2017

Learning for success

I will be changing jobs in the next few weeks, so I have been keen to work my way through some of the books that I have purchased for my employer's library before I go. One recent acquisition is Dr Carol S Dweck's book Mindset (2006, revised 2017).

Dr Dweck is a world-renowned psychologist from Stanford University. She has spent much of her life researching success and failure, and the way our mindset is linked with our potential. She has found that there are essentially two mindsets - fixed or growth - and the mindset in which we approach our life can have a profound effect on how we progress.

A fixed mindset is one in which intelligence, talent and abilities are fixed - you either have it or you don't. This mindset leads one to view success and failure through a narrow lens. Challenges are avoided, effort is a waste of time, the success of others is a threat.

A growth mindset is one in which intelligence, talent and abilities can be developed. Learning is valued and the process is just as important as the outcome. Challenges are embraced, mistakes are learned from, effort leads to mastery and there is a sense of free will.

Dweck looks at mindset through exploring the stories of athletes, artists, students, parents, employers and others. She shows the limitations of a fixed mindset and the advantages of growth. Dweck shows that most of us have both mindsets - for example, we may believe that we can learn to do most things, except that artistic talent is something you either have or you don't.

Her main message is 'the view you adopt of yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life'. I found this book enlightening, as I am generally one with a growth mindset, but have had periods where I have become fixed. Not only does Dweck identify these mindsets but she provides a pathway for change.

This book made me think a lot about how I give and receive feedback, praise children for their achievements, communicate with those close to me. I would recommend Mindset to parents, managers, coaches, those wanting to develop themselves and anyone involved in developing others.

Dr Dweck also gave an interesting Ted Talk on this subject which can be viewed below.