16 min read ⌚
The New Psychology of Success
Renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, spent years studying the way people think and how some persons manage to achieve success.
She then discovered the power of our mental attitude. In Mental Attitudes, she explains why success does not depend only on our abilities or talents, but on how we deal with life situations and how it depends on two mental attitudes: fixed and progressive.
It also makes it clear why praising intelligence and skills does not aid in the development and progress of anyone, sometimes hindering that person’s growth.
Mental attitudes will help you find the tools to achieve your goals and achieve success in all areas of your life by changing your brain for the better. Let’s get to know Carol Dweck’s Mindset in 12 minutes?
This is maybe the most famous concept nowadays. Lots of things seem to gravitate around it.
For thousands of years, philosophers, religious institutions, and scientists witnessed vast societal differences among the people. The only way to describe this weird behaviour was to comprehend the relativeness of “Mindset”.
They’ve figured it out that each personality is shaped by the environment, person’s intelligence, education and genetic predispositions.
Our book summary clarifies the main points from which a particular mindset is developed like parental upbringing, intelligence, level of education and genetics.
Stay with us, and you’ll find out everything you need to become successful!
Who Should Read “Mindset”? and Why?
It is not so simple to limit any book to a particular target group of readers that are more likely to be interested in, especially when we talk about deep, clear, and excellently written masterpiece like “Mindset.”
Therefore there is no particular target group. As a valuable piece of content, written at the highest level, “Mindset” attempts to expand people’s knowledge about different Mindsets and the benefits, and obstructions that they carry.
About Carol S. Dweck
Carol S. Dweck is an American-born professor, psychologist, and a writer. She was born on October 17, 1946, in the United States of America. Back in 1967, Carol graduated from Barnard College, and five years later she received her PhD from Yale University. Her professional career started at Columbia University where she taught psychology.
Also, she worked at Harvard University and the University of Illinois. In 2004 Carol decided to join the Stanford faculty where she continued to work as a professor.
“Mindset” gave her the privilege to be considered as one of the leading researchers in personality and psychology. Despite her expertise in psychology, she is also a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences.
Mindset is a difficult term to explain. The world-renowned Stanford University psychologist tries to get a hold off its truthfulness by seeking for an absolute definition. She rewrites the theories of the psychology of success by bringing in the frontline mindset as the strongest concept.
Her prerequisite is simple but powerful: Only a healthy mindset can bring you long-term success. For instance, have you ever witnessed a depressive person who managed to keep its intensity? – We doubt it!
Initially, the readers must be familiar with the term “fixed mindset.”
You Can Be Destroyed By a Fixed Mental Attitude
People grow and change every day, but a person with a ‘fixed mental attitude’ ignores this truth and chooses to believe that their traits and talents are fixed. They think, therefore, that they are attached to the level of intelligence with which they were born or that if they were not born with a natural talent – such as singing for example – they will remain so. Basically, they believe they lack the ability to change.
A fixed mental attitude makes people feel they need to always prove their abilities to them and to the world, demanding daily praises and words of affirmation. For them, failure is an unacceptable constraint, to be avoided at all costs.
They think they must have natural talents for all they seek, and if they have not, then they should not even try. They believe that if you have to work hard and strive to have a skill, then maybe you should not even try.
Because perfection is the goal of fixed mental attitude, these individuals tend to cling to what they already know to achieve success. A study was conducted in which they offered young children the option of redoing an easy puzzle or trying a new, more difficult puzzle.
Children Seek to Learn One of the Two Mental Attitudes With Parents, Teachers or Coaches
Everything we say and do can leave a mark on a child. As parents, teachers or coaches dealing with their growth and development, we must be sure that we are encouraging progressive mental attitude and teaching them to learn and grow.
Sometimes we send intentional messages that we are judging them and that they can not change or improve.
Children with a fixed mental attitude chose the easy puzzle because they knew they could complete it successfully.
If you have a fixed mental attitude and make a mistake, that experience will become a decisive moment that will classify you as a failure. You believe that your potential never changes and can be evaluated at any time. Your goal in most things is to prove how clever you are and ensure your superiority over others.
None of the things that a fixed mental attitude tells us are true or healthy. When we think this way, every day we stop ourselves from reaching our potential and achieving our goals and dreams. With the right mental attitude and a lot of hard work and dedication, we can develop the skill, intelligence, and competencies we want to acquire.
If a teacher positions all his students according to their IQs and then treats them differently, she/he is imposing a fixed mental attitude. Children get the message that they need to look smart and strive to be the best and that they can not change their intelligence or position.
They then believe that only the smartest children have privileges and opportunities because only they can be trusted.
What children should learn is that always persevering and striving to the fullest is far more important than anything else. We should not stop them from trying new things by making them feel dumb for failing. We must then find a way to help them develop better learning strategies.
Children need to learn that they are capable of making changes by actively working on what they want to change.
Praise can be a useful tool to motivate children, but only if done properly. You should praise the effort the child makes, not his or her intellect, talent or speed. They need to be encouraged to work hard. And they should not be praised constantly because it feeds the fixed mental attitude, which causes them to need constant praise and affirmation. Praise should be given when truly deserved.
If a child fails, it is our duty as adults to show it how to turn that failure into a learning experience. When you take a low grade on a test, we should help you to see that the reason for such a grade is the fact that you need to work harder to learn the subject.
The standards should be high, and we must then help the children to reach them and even exceed them.
Your Success Is Determined By Your Mental Attitude
“What makes someone achieve what others can’t” isn’t the initial talent or aptitude and it is not luck: it is the fact of having a progressive mental attitude. It all depends on how each person thinks and reacts to each new situation. If you think you have the power to change and learn from each experience, then you are much more likely to succeed.
A fixed mental attitude will cause you to worry about proving yourself repeatedly and will not be able to focus on being better. You may not be doing what you love because you are afraid you will not be able to achieve it. So instead you get what you know you can do, holding back your potential to grow.
Fixed and progressive mental attitudes work differently because they have different goals. Take, for example, two marathon runners. A marathoner with a fixed mental attitude will probably try to run without much training, seeking the first place because it proves that he has a natural talent.
But if he does not get first place, he will lose interest in the marathon, make excuses, and continue to train in the same way.
In the same situation, a marathoner with a progressive mental attitude will devote much time and train as much as he can. For him, not being first-place is not devastating, it’s simply a sign that he needs to train harder.
You will enjoy the challenge and the chance to grow. He realizes that talent is not something fixed, but that it can increase it with effort and learning.
People with a fixed mental attitude think that having to work makes them less talented or intelligent than others – they see everything as a competition. In contrast, those with progressive mental attitude regard others as companions rather than competitors.
They think that anyone can learn through effort and that effort – not result – should be praised.
Your Mental Attitude Also Determines Your Relationships
People with a fixed mental attitude often have difficulties with relationships, because growth is the food of love. This is true for family relationships, friendships, and love relationships.
Each relationship requires work, but having a fixed mental attitude is not compatible with great efforts. Instead, these individuals prefer to make excuses when things are not working and give up when they get difficult.
Relationships are never perfect. Therefore, people with a fixed mental attitude need to seek the perfection and are unhappy when they cannot reach it. Couples will not be 100% compatible – in fact, most relationship experts think that differences are healthy.
The trick is to allow the other person to open up about differences and open yourself up about yours.
People with progressive mental attitude accept much more easily that each person is different and recognize that they themselves are struggling all the time to grow, develop, and become better people.
They also like to be close to people who help them in this growth process, not only with motivation and support but also allowing it to reciprocate. When problems and disagreements occur, as they possibly will, people with this mental attitude use them as an opportunity for growth.
When two people with a fixed mental attitude are in a relationship, they need to avoid the danger of turning the other into an enemy. If for example, Gabriela and Marcelo, who are dating, are always trying to prove that they can do better than each other, their relationship will be in difficult waters.
No one wants to be the weaker or inferior. They must work together and for each other in all kinds of relationships. And it is very important to recognize the fact that people can change.
In a relationship, you have to accept that you will not agree at all and be able to look at it as a positive learning experience. Constant communication will allow you to talk about any issues that arise. It’s important not to assume you know what the other person is thinking or feeling – you always need to ask for everything to be clear.
For Success In The Workplace Look For a Progressive Mental Attitude
Having a fixed or progressive mental attitude determines whether you will fail or succeed in business. Just like in any other area, some people are more talented than others. Creating a team of talented people will not be enough if they do not have the right mental attitude.
Individuals in certain positions who have a fixed mental attitude become stagnant and may even cause businesses to break. They hinder the learning and change processes needed to succeed.
The company needs a progressive-minded leader to improve and preserve processes. This person should be willing to communicate with people at all levels to assess problems and think about effective ways to solve them.
General Electric’s Jack Welch was such a leader, who kept constant conversations with his workers at the plant and acted giving feedback. He cared about his team, not himself because he understood that the company’s success needed the effort of the whole team. He did not depend on his own talent for success but worked every day for the company’s interests.
On the other hand, Chrysler’s former CEO, Lee Iacocca, was a leader with a fixed attitude, totally focused on himself. He could not grow and adapt to market changes and was eventually replaced. Iacocca was too busy trying to prove his work to the world to be able to finish anything useful.
To grow, businesses need employees with a progressive mental attitude. Every worker needs to be valued and allowed to express their opinions when they are needed. If the workforce gets into the habit of thinking in groups and everyone thinks similarly, and no one can disagree or criticize, then bad decisions will be made.
Each individual needs to be able to point out flaws in plans.
People with progressive minds can use negative feedback and turn it into a development opportunity, while fixed minds will simply feel judged.
Successful businesses recognize that high-performing employees are an asset and should never, for any reason, be harmed.
Each member of the workforce must work together, as a team, to promote group success. No one should be valued more than others and everyone should help to promote mutual development.
A Progressive Mental Attitude Is Also In The Best Athletes
While many athletes truly possess a natural talent, the sport’s elite also works very hard to achieve and maintain their status. However, some of them let their talent pull them away from greatness.
They know they have the ability and as a result, expectations are so high for them that a fixed mental attitude keeps them from putting more effort. And if they fail at any moment, they believe that this is a devastating and embarrassing blow and will not strive hard enough to become the best and remain as such.
At the outset, renowned boxer Muhammad Ali was not considered a born athlete – he was not compared to other boxers who fit the ideal physique. Still, he managed to beat Sonny Liston, which was exactly what a boxer should be.
That’s because Cassius Clay, as he used to be known, used his progressive mental attitude to determine how he could beat his most naturally talented opponents. He was smart, and this allowed him to win.
Reaching the top in any field is actually the fruit of hard work and effort to learn anything you can about what you are doing. The best athletes know that they can always improve and are constantly practising and developing new ways to do this.
They never think that they have reached the top and that there is nothing else to learn. They have the character to be tough when things get tough. Many potential athletes have talent but do not possess the character to pursue it.
Champions athletes do not make excuses and do not flee from failure. They use every game and training as an opportunity to learn and grow, and each defeat simply teaches them about what they need to improve.
This means that they must possess a progressive mental attitude and believe that they have the ability to make changes in themselves and in their games. It’s a matter of hard work and learning, finding motivation in defeat, and maintaining a right attitude.
If you want to play a sport, you can not be afraid of failing and can not get away from the work involved in acquiring the skill. You may not be a born athlete, but it does not mean that your effort will not help you to be talented. Do not be afraid to try.
You Need to Work Constantly to Change Your Mental Attitude
Knowing the difference between fixed and progressive mental attitude is the first step to self-improvement, but you cannot stop here. Changing your mental attitude takes time and a lot of effort. It will not be enough to make only one or two small changes. You will need to look at everything in your life in a new and progressive way.
You may begin by asking yourself where you will find opportunities to learn and grow every day. You may be surprised to find out how many possibilities there are. It may be scary at first, but the more control you have, the more you can grow. You should plan to keep this new mental attitude and continue your growth.
In time, you can become the person who always strives and learns in all situations. Then you will begin to promote the growth of those around you. Remember that it will be a difficult job and that effort is what you should praise in you and others.
The fixed mental attitude that you struggled to leave behind will still be present. But fortunately, with the skills you will gain by learning the progressive mental attitude, you will know that it is always possible to change for the better.
You are not stuck in your current state. It is possible to change your whole perspective and approach in life to facilitate success and growth. You just have to be willing to work hard and maintain the right mental attitude.
It indicates an inflexible attitude without any openness to something new – person’s mind area of strictly established concepts. The opposite term is known by the name “growth mindset”- a new (more flexible) perspective is characteristic of this mindset.
But what is the hypothesis that lies at the base of his book? One simple assumption: People differ from one another.
Every person carries a set of individual characteristics, and the sooner you realize that, the better. Just like buying fruit, you can choose from apple, avocado, watermelon, blueberry, etc. It all depends on what you need at this current moment, and that shapes your mindset.
Intelligent individuals, for example, are often less-social than other ordinary people, they just enjoy spending time with themselves. Others are more prone to scams, frauds and other dishonest activities.
Think about this for a moment.
Although each person has its own set of beliefs and opinions, the world must be, and it is shared among different nations, races, religions and various types of individuals. The modern society, according to Dweck, divides people into those willing to learn and educate themselves and the ones that are ignorant, stubborn and uneducated – with a complex personality.
The second category has one thing in common: they consider the overall lifetime education a foolish and unnecessary process, but they are not aware of the fact that their stupidity affects the entire community, not just them.
Looking beyond abilities and talent will help us approach success differently. The right perception of things like this is more than a debt that we owe to ourselves. It’s more responsibility, equally to ourselves and to those we see as mentors – our kids, our students, our employees.
Key Lessons from “Mindset”
1. How does the “Fixed Mindset” concept affect individuals
2. Understand the Mindset and its impact
3. A person’s mindset is under constant evolution
How does the “Fixed Mindset” concept affect individuals
The mindset has important indications, although the majority of people are very imprecise when estimating their potential. You’ve been introduced to the “ﬁxed mindset” concept that is well-known for taking things too seriously and personally.
These individuals decode subtle messages differently. Sometimes, they cannot simply cope and accept the reality, so these “fixed mindset” personalities feel unwanted and rejected by the social group.
On a long run, such a mindset could lead to a lower self-confidence and mood swing.
According to Dweck, people that are identified as such individuals try hard to conceal their weaknesses, because for the majority of times even they don’t believe in successful relationships, marriages, careers and so on.
Understand the Mindset and its impact
Up to now, you have probably realized that mindsets are producing different worldviews and perspectives, these contradictory views can be subject to change as a person expands his knowledge of something.
For instance: If American parents raise a baby, it is evident that that baby would grow up to be a proud American, but if French parents adopt the same baby the child will not identify itself as an American.
This simple example shows how human beings can be taught new things, react and think differently, and evolve to different surroundings.
You can take another example: Successful sports athletes according to sports researchers, “conquered the world” because they were focused on the present and ignored every unnecessary distraction, only by changing their mindset they’ve learned their lesson and become champions and winners.
A person’s mindset is under constant evolution
Businesses today are in pursuance of pure talents. Unintentionally, the companies have evolved and transformed their mindsets.
These businesses look for talented adults, those with a high-educational level that can give any company some extra value to their services.
As a consequence of this concept, the mindset of an average person is forced to develop and grow inwardly.
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“Mindset” QuotesBecoming is better than being. Click To Tweet Did I win? Did I lose? Those are the wrong questions. The correct question is: Did I make my best effort? If so, he says, You may be outscored but you will never lose. Click To Tweet We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary. Click To Tweet No matter what your ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment. Click To Tweet Picture your brain forming new connections as you meet the challenge and learn. Keep on going. Click To Tweet
The mental attitudes we adopt are at the centre of what we do, think and feel every day. Understanding that progressive mental attitude leads to success and self-improvement, while fixed mental attitude prevents you from growing, can help you control your development and happiness.
You have the ability to change, and nothing is fixed unless you become.
You can change from a state in which you fear failure to a state in which you create new experiences and discover a new way of thinking about each experience in your life. You can also use this new knowledge to empower the people you love and encourage them to progress.
Mental attitudes are applied both personally and professionally. When you really think about it, you will find that you can use the progressive mental attitude to change everything in your life for the better.
Do not let the fixed mental attitude hinder you. You can change who you are, increase your intelligence and discover new hidden potentials. Who you are and what you can do depends entirely on yourself.
12min tip: If you liked this title, we think you will also love our microbook based on Influence: Science and Practice, by Robert Cialdini. Check it!
Emir is the Head of Marketing at 12min. In his spare time, he loves to meditate and play soccer.