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Updated: Feb 28, 2022

Mindsets feed into every part of our lives so I found the fundamental principles to be very powerful and a well-needed reminder for anyone on the road to success. I felt that the book could have been done in fewer pages because there was a lot of repetition concerning the core concepts.


About the Author

Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., is widely regarded as one of the world's leading researchers in the fields of personality, social psychology, and developmental psychology. She has been the William B. Ransford Professor of Psychology at Columbia University and is now the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. Her scholarly book Self-Theories: Their Role in Motivation, Personality, and Development was named Book of the Year by the World Education Fellowship. Her work has been featured in such publications as The New Yorker, Time, The New York Times, The Washington Post, and The Boston Globe, and she has appeared on Today and 20/20. She lives with her husband in Palo Alto, California.

The Premise of the Book

A deep dive into human motivation and the factors underlining success. The book contributes to the nature vs nurture debate and puts forward the proposition that it is not just abilities and talents that bring success but the mindset one adopts to overcome challenges/obstacles - presenting the Fixed vs Growth Mindset Model.

The Book in a Nutshell

  • Mindset and Personality

Our mindset shapes our entire personality which helps or hinders us from achieving our goals. It is the lens through which you interpret success, failure and effort, amongst other things.

  • Growth vs Fixed Mindset

We inherit 1 of 2 mindsets from our parents, teachers and the media you digest:

  1. Fixed Mindset - The belief that we are born with our qualities, traits and level of intelligence which remains fixed throughout our life.

  2. Growth Mindset - The belief that through hard work and experience we can develop our qualities, traits and level of intelligence.

  • Mindset and Life

Affects every area of our life including our relationships and business success.

Key Ideas

  1. Nature vs Nurture

A classic debate that is ongoing but recent scientific studies suggest that hereditary and environmental factors work together throughout our lives to forge who we become. It is clear that people start out with natural talents and strengths but we are able to train and practice our weaknesses to a great extent and excel. The brain is like a muscle the more we exercise it the stronger it becomes in whichever area we choose.

2. Don't Let the Past Dictate Our Future

Some students choose to protect themselves through what is known as "low-effort syndrome" which is essentially where they don't even try so that they can't be judged. What we achieved in our earlier years has no bearing on what we are capable of learning and excelling in as an adult. We will never know our true potential until we try and commit ourselves to the process of growth and development. We need to believe it is possible otherwise we won't be motivated to make it happen.

3. The Power of Mindsets

This lies in recognising that our beliefs lead to our thoughts and subsequently our actions. Those who believe qualities & traits are fixed won't bother to try and develop them. Those who believe in growth and development will make very different choices that will allow them to break the mould and succeed in life. Anything can be changed including a Fixed Mindset.

4. We Can Exhibit Both Growth and Fixed Mindsets

We can have different mindsets for various areas of our life. For example, we may have a growth mindset towards business and failures we encounter but a fixed mindset when it comes to relationships such as the idea that people don't or can't change.

5. The Consequences of Fixed Mindsets

  • Challenges and difficulties are avoided as they pose the risk of undermining natural gifts and talents.

  • Diminishes hunger for learning and development.

  • Effort is seen as a negative - why try when we either have it or we don't.

  • It limits achievement.

  • It creates a sense of urgency to prove ourselves over and over again.

  • Failure is viewed as intolerable.

6. The Consequences of Growth Mindsets

  • Promotes the idea that all people are capable of change.

  • Creates a desire to learn - failure is seen as an opportunity to develop and risk-taking is valued.

  • Allows people to love what they're doing because it creates a healthy relationship with difficulty.

  • Success is found by doing your best, learning and improving.

  • Builds character which is a key ingredient of success.

My Favourite Quotes

“The fixed mindset is about validation. The growth mindset is about developing yourself. It means knowing that you have to work the hardest for things you love the most”
“Having the growth mindset doesn't protect you from the pain of failure. But failure doesn't define you. A failure is only a temporary problem to be faced, dealt with, and learned from”
“I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the success and the failures. I divide the world into the learners and non-learners” (Benjamin Barber)
Setbacks and failures should motivate you, not label you. They’re informative occurrences. They’re kind of a wake-up call to do self-reflection and analysis. They’re a sign to apply more or smarter effort
Why would you spend all the time proving how great you are, when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies

Actionable Takeaways

  1. To Change Our Mindset

    • Become aware of our mindset(s).

    • Reflect on the impact of Fixed vs Growth mindsets.

    • Know that the choice is ours to change your mindset.

2. To Learn New Growth Mindset

  • Define success as learning and developing our skills.

  • Don't put our worth in titles or possessions but the mindset we carry.

  • Reverse engineer success by looking at the strategies adopted by our heroes and idols.

  • Don't surround ourselves with people who massage our ego but with those who can provide us with constructive feedback to improve.

  • When things become difficult accept from the outset that this is the price of learning and it needs to be paid in full so stick with it - hold the vision and trust the process.

Impact Statement

“The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you live your life … They’re powerful beliefs, but they’re just something in your mind, and you can change your mind”




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