Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

The title of this post is the same as the title of a book by psychologist Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.  The book was cited in the previous healthy memory post, “The Importance of a Growth Mindset.”  This book was a best seller in hardcopy and is now a best selling paperback book (as well as a kindle version).  It is good news that so many people have read this book and are reading this book, but having read it myself I think that everyone should read it.  This is especially true for students, parents, educators, and coaches.  I regret not having read the book earlier.  I agreed with the title, but I thought I knew enough about this topic and would get to it later.  I was wrong.  Dr. Dweck has taken this concept, explained its ramifications, and thoroughly developed its applications.

She contrast two types of mindsets:  fixed mind sets, where abilities are basically fixed.  And growth mindsets, in which knowledge and abilities are grown.  Understand that these are attitudes.  It’s a question of which mindset you choose for yourself and others.

The developer of the first IQ Test, Alfred Binet, did not believe that intelligence was a fixed ability.  He developed the test to identify students who required special attention.  Darwin and Tolstoy were considered ordinary children.  The legendary golfer Ben Hogan was completely uncoordinated and graceless as a child.  The great actress Geraldine Page was advised to give acting up for lack of any talent.  Dr. Dweck cites many other compelling examples.

Here is an example of the fundamental difference between the two mindsets.  People with a fixed mindset who fail a test will likely conclude that they failed because they lacked intelligence.  However, a person with a growth mindset will conclude that they didn’t not study enough and they work to understand what and how they failed and how they improved.  So it is obvious that having a fixed mindset is a severe handicap one places on oneself.  Success is unlikely.  However, those with a growth mindset are much more likely to succeed.

It is not only one’s own mindset that is important.  It is also the mindset one imposes on others.  If your child or student fails, do you conclude that they are stupid?  Or do you conclude that the potential is there, but it needs to be grown and developed?

I was, and remain, impressed by how thoroughly Dr. Dweck developed these ideas.

Chapter 1 develops the concept of mindsets.

Chapter 2 takes us inside mindsets asking whether is success about learning—or proving you’re smart.  Mindset changes the meanings of failure and effort.

Chapter 3 elucidates the truth about ability and accomplishment.  This includes the relationship between mindset and school.  It raises serious question about the notion that artistic ability is a gift.  It alerts us to the danger of praise and positive labels as well as explaining negative labels and how they work.

Chapter 4 is titled Sports:  The mindset of a champion.  It discusses the idea of the natural “character.”  It asked what is success and what is failure and explains how to take charge of success.  It asks the question, “What Does It Mean to Be a Star? and write about hearing the mindsets.

Chapter 5 is titled Business:  Mindset and Leadership and has subsections titled
Enron and the Talent Mindset
Organizations That Grow
A Study of Group Processes
Groupthink versus We Think
The Praised Generation Hits the Workforce
Are Negotiators Born or Made?
Corporate Training:  Are Managers Born or Made?
Are Leaders Born or Made?

Chapter 6 is titled Relationships:  Mindsets in Love (or Not) with subsections titled
Relationships are Different
Mindsets Falling in Love
The Partner as Enemy
Competition:  Who’s the Greatest?
Developing in Relationships
Bullies and Victims:  Revenge Revisited

Chapter 7 is titled Parents, Teachers, and Coaches:  Where Do Mindsets Come From”
Parents (and Teachers):  Messages About Success and Failure
Teachers (and Parents):  What Makes a Great Teacher or (Parent?
Coaches:  Winning Through Mindset
Our Legacy

Chapter 8.  Changing Mindsets has the following subsections:
The Nature of Change
The Mindset Lecture
A Mindset Workshop
More About Change
Taking the First Set
People Who don’t Want to Change
Changing Your Child’s Mindset
Mindset and Willpower
Maintaining Change
The Road Ahead

Subsequent healthy memory blog posts will address some of these topics more deeply.

I am curious about the relationship between a growth mindset and Alzheimer’s and dementia.  I would make a substantial wager that a growth mindset effectively wards off Alzheimer’s and dementia.  With respect to the amyloid plaque and neurofibrillary tangles that constitute the definitive diagnosis, there is the question of people whose autopsies were wracked with plaque and tangles, but who never showed any of the behavioral or cognitive disorders of Alzheimer’s.  I would make an even larger wager that these people had growth mindsets.

© Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com, 2015. Unauthorized use and/or duplication of this material without express and written permission from this blog’s author and/or owner is strictly prohibited. Excerpts and links may be used, provided that full and clear credit is given to Douglas Griffith and healthymemory.wordpress.com with appropriate and specific direction to the original content.


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