The fixed mind-set promotes the belief that intelligence is static. A person is either smart, talented, athletic, for example, or they are not. This mind-set leads to a desire to look smart and therefore creates a tendency to avoid challenges, give up easily, to see effort as fruitless or worse. Those with a fixed mind-set ignore useful negative feedback and feel threatened by the success of others. As Dweck points out, as a result of the fixed mind-set, people may plateau early and achieve less than their full potential. Moreover, those with this mind-set also have a fixed mind-set about others’ abilities as well.
The growth mind-set, alternately, fosters a belief that intelligence can be developed and leads to a desire to learn. Therefore, those with this mind-set have a tendency to embrace challenges, persist in the face of obstacles and setbacks, and see effort as the path to mastery. Criticism provides opportunities to self-reflect and learn for those with a growth mind-set. The success of others is inspiring and encourages those with a growth mind-set to learn from those who have found success in challenges. As a result, higher levels of achievement are sought after and attained.
Phrases like “You’re so smart because you were able to get the answer so quickly” or “This really comes easily to you; you must be really smart!” feed a person’s view of themselves. It feed a fixed mind-set. When students hear this again and again it creates a view that if things are easy, then I must be good at it. Therefore, when students face difficulty in learning in school, they can sometimes shut down and think, “I must not be smart after all.” Moreover, students will AVOID opportunities where they might not be immediately ‘good’ at something. This is important.
In the perspective of leadership, this concept is important because more often than not, fixed mind-sets beget fixed mind-sets. Teachers and administrators alike should be encouraged to be lifelong learners with growth mind-sets so that they might inspire the same in students! Phrases such as “It looks like you mastered that concept; you must have worked really hard!” need to be more prevalent. More importantly, opportunities for students to be challenged in such a way that they learn to persist when faced with obstacles MUST be offered to students regularly.
This book and it’s psychology of success changed the way I interact with my own kids, and others around me, in general. It changed the way I face obstacles and set backs, or at least made me self-aware of choices I was making in those situations.
To me, it is a book well worth reading for any parent, educator, or leader.
For a 14-minute interesting video, by Derek Sivers, about growth and fixed mind-sets, please visit the link, below. I truly believe it will be worth your time. I have used it for discussion purposes with teachers and leaders in many different settings and have heard from some stating that it was one of the most valuable learning they had ever engaged in during their career. Please take some time to review it and to learn more about growth mind-sets and how to cultivate that view in others.
Also, if you are interested in connecting this video with the Kentucky Framework for Teaching, please visit this link and use/tweak the powerpoint provided:
Thank you for taking the time to read this review. I’m very passionate about this book’s power for changing how people view and persevere through change, growth, and setbacks. It is how “grit” is fostered.