Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol S. Dweck


Who is this book for?

This book for anyone who is interested in learning about the growth and fixed mindset.

Dweck argues that there are two types of outlooks people can have: a fixed mindset is someone who believes that their ability comes from the role of the dice at birth and it is fixed in stone and there is little (or nothing) they can do to improve -- while a growth mindset is someone who believes that they can learn from struggle and improve on their natural talent. Dweck explores both mindsets in her research and invites the reader to analyses case studies, looking at their advantages and drawbacks.

In this book you will learn how using a growth mindset will help you develop your leadership, teaching, and relationship skills. It talks directly to coaches, mentors, managers, parents, athletes, and CEOs, giving examples unique to each role, and thoughtful consideration and analysis of each approach.

If you decide to read this book, be sure to pick up the most current edition (the most recent paperback) as it has new and updated information that did not make it into the hardcover edition.


Introduction     p. ix

The Mindsets     p. 3

Why Do People Differ?     p. 4

  • Wasn’t the IQ test meant to summarize children’s unchangeable intelligence? In fact, no. Binet, a Frenchman working in Paris in the early twentieth century, designed this test to identify children who were not profiting from the Paris public schools, so that new educational programs could be designed to get them back on track.
  • From Modern Ideas About Children by Binet: “A few modern philosophers . . . assert that an individuals intelligence is a fixed quantity, a quantity which cannot be increased. We must protest and react against this brutal pessimism. . . With practice, training, and above all, method, we manage to increase our attention, our memory, our judgment and literally to become more intelligent than we were before.
  • Binet recognized, it’s not always the people who start out the smartest who end up the smartest.

What Does All This Mean for You? The Two Mindsets     p. 6

  • Believing that your qualities are carved in stone – the fixed mindset – creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over.
  • The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.

A View from the Two Mindsets     p. 7

  • Yet those people with the growth mindset were not labeling themselves and throwing up their hands. Even though they felt distressed, they were ready to take the risks, confront the challenges, and keep working at them.

So, What's New?     p. 9

Self-Insight: Who Has Accurate Views of Their Assets and Limitations?     p. 11

  • We found that people greatly misestimated their performance and their ability. But it was those with a fixed mindset who accounted for almost all the inaccuracy. The people with the growth mindset were amazingly accurate.

What's in Store     p. 11

  • Another thing exceptional people seem to have is a special talent for converting life’s setbacks into future successes.
  • (What is your mindset quiz)

Inside the Mindsets     p. 15

  • Suddenly we realized that there were two meanings to ability, not one: a fixed ability needs to be proven, and a changeable ability that can be developed through learning.
  • When you enter a mindset, you enter a new world.
  • You have a choice. Mindsets are just beliefs.

Is Success About Learning-Or Proving You're Smart?     p. 16

  • “You have a certain amount of intelligence, and you can’t do much to change it.” People who agree with this kind of statement have a fixed mindset.
  • Those who have a growth mindset agree that: “You can always substantially change how intelligent you are.”
  • Only people with a growth mindset paid close attention to information that could stretch their knowledge. Only for them was learning a priority.
  • People with a fixed mindset said the ideal mate would:
    •  Put them on a pedestal.
    •  Make them feel perfect.
    • Worship them.
    • In other words, the perfect mate would enshrine their fixed qualities.
  • People with a growth mindset hoped for a different kind of partner. They said their ideal mate was someone who would:
    • See their faults and help them to work on them.
    • Challenge them to become a better person.
    • Encourage them to learn new things.
    • Certainly, they didn’t want people who would pick on them or undermine their self-esteem, but they did want people who would foster their development.
  • When do you feel smart? The differences were striking. People with a fixed mindset said:
    • “It’s when I don’t make any mistakes.”
    • “When I finish something fast and it’s perfect.”
    • “When something is easy for me, but other people can’t do it.”
  • It’s about being perfect right now. But people with a growth mindset said:
    • “When it’s really hard, and I try really hard, and I can do something I couldn’t do before.”
    • “When I work on something a long time and I start to figure it out.”
  • There was a saying in the 1960s that went: “Becoming is better than being.” The fixed mindset does not allow people the luxury of becoming. They have to already be.
  • Is there another way to judge potential? NASA thought so. When they were soliciting application for astronauts, they rejected people with pure histories of success and instead selected people who had had significant failures and bounced back from them.
  • The problem is when special begins to mean better than others.
  • However, lurking behind that self-esteem of the fixed mindset is a simple question: If you’re somebody when you’re successful, what are you when you’re unsuccessful?

Mindsets Change the Meaning of Failure     p. 32

  • As a New York Times article points out, failure has been transformed from an action (I failed) to an identify (I am a failure).
  • The students with the fixed mindset had higher levels of depression.
  • The more depressed people with the growth mindset felt, the more they took action to confront their problems, the more they made sure to keep up with their schoolwork, and the more they kept up with their lives.
  • In short, when people believe in fixed traits, they are always in danger of being measured by failure. It can define them in a permanent way. Smart or talented as they may be, this mindset seems to rob them of their coping resources.
  • When people believe their basic qualities can be developed, failures may still hurt, but failures don’t define them.

Mindsets Change the Meaning of Effort     p. 39

  • Malcolm Gladwell, author and New Yorker writer, has suggested that as a society we value natural, effortless accomplishments over achievements through effort.

Questions and Answers     p. 45

  • Mindsets are an important part of your personality, but you can change them.
  • People can have different mindsets in different areas. I might think that my artistic skills are fixed but that my intelligence can be developed.
  • In the fixed mindset, everything is about outcome. If you fail – or if you’re not the best – it’s all been wasted. The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome.
  • The growth mindset also doesn’t mean everything that can be changed should be changed. We all need to accept some imperfections, especially the ones that don’t really harm our lives or the lives of others.

The Truth About Ability and Accomplishment     p. 55

Mindset and School Achievement     p. 57

  • The students with the growth mindset showed an increase in their grades over the two years.
  • When students with the fixed mindset did poorly, they often didn’t made a comeback.
  • Because they think in terms of learning, people with the growth mindset are clued in to all the different ways to create learning.

Is Artistic Ability a Gift?     p. 67

The Danger of Praise and Positive Labels     p. 71

  • The ability praise pushed students right into right into the fixed mindset.
  • Since this was a kind of IQ test, you might say that praising ability lowered the students’ IQs.
  • What’s so alarming is that we took ordinary children and made them into liars, simply by telling them they were smart.
  • So telling children they’re smart, in the end, made them feel dumber and act dumber, but claim to be smarter.

Negative Labels and How They Work     p. 74

  • Research by Claude Steele and Joshua Aronson shows that even checking a box to indicate your race or sex can trigger the stereotype in your mind and lower your test score.
  • This doesn’t happen to everybody, however. It mainly happens to people who are in a fixed mindset.
  • A growth mindset helps people to see prejudice for what it is – someone else’s view of them – and to confront it with their confidence and abilities intact.
  • Math and science need to be made more hospitable places for women. And women need all the growth mindset they can get to take their rightful places in these fields.

Sports: The Mindset of a Champion     p. 82

  • In short, the natural does not analyze his deficiencies and coach or practice them away. The very idea of deficiencies is terrifying.

The Idea of the Natural     p. 83

  • You would think the sports world would have to see the relation between practice and improvement – and between mind and performance – and stop harping so much on innate physical talent. Yet it’s almost as if they refuse to see it.

"Character"     p. 91

  • Bruce Jenner, 1976 Olympic gold medalist in the decathlon, says, “If I wasn’t dyslexic, I probably wouldn’t have won the Games. If I had been a better reader, then that would have come easily, sports would have come easily . . . and I never would have realized that the way you get ahead in life is hard work.”

What Is Success?     p. 98

What Is Failure?     p. 99

Taking Charge of Success     p. 101

What Does It Mean to Be a Star?     p. 103

Hearing the Mindsets     p. 105

  • The somebody-nobody syndrome. If I win, I’ll be somebody; if I lose I’ll be nobody. 

Business: Mindset and Leadership     p. 108

Enron and the Talent Mindset     p. 108

  • As Glandwell writes, “This ‘talent mind-set’ is the new orthodoxy of American management.” It created the blueprint for the Enron culture – and sowed the seeds of its demise.
  • By putting complete faith in talent, Enron did a fatal thing: It created a culture that worshiped talent, thereby forcing its employees to look and act extraordinarily talented. Basically, it forced them into the fixed mindset.

Organizations That Grow     p. 109

  • They’re not constantly trying to prove they’re better than others.

A Study of Mindset and Management Decisions     p. 111

Leadership and the Fixed Mindset     p. 112

  • Fixed-mindset leaders, like fixed-mindset people in general, live in a world where some people are superior and some are inferior. They must repeatedly affirm that they are superior, and the company is simple a platform for this.

Fixed-Mindset Leaders in Action     p. 114

  • Iacocca lived the fixed mindset. Although he started out loving the car business and having breakthrough ideas, his need to prove his superiority started to dominate, eventually killing his enjoyment and stifling his creativity.
  • Al Dunlap thought that he was inherently superior, so he opted out of the kind of learning that would have helped him succeed.
  • Skilling not only thought he was smarter than everyone else but, like Iacocca, also thought he was luckier.
  • Harvey Hornstein, an expert on corporate leadership, writes in his book Brutal Bosses that this kind of abuse represents the bosses’ desire “to enhance their own feelings of power, competence, and value at the subordinate’s expense.”

Growth-Mindset Leaders in Action     p. 124

  • The fixed mindset feels so stifling. Even when those leaders are globe-trotting and hobnobbing with world figures, their world seems so small and confining – because their minds are always on one thing: Validate me!
  • Welch never stopped visiting the factories and hearing from the workers. These were people he respected, learned from, and, in turn, nurtured.
  • The approved way to foster productivity was now through mentoring, not through terror.

A Study of Group Processes     p. 133

  • From a growth mindset, it’s not only the select few that have something to offer.
  • The members of the growth-mindset groups were much more likely to state their honest opinions and openly express their disagreements as they communicated about their management decisions. Everyone was part of the learning process. For fixed-mindset groups – with their concern about who was smart or dumb or their anxiety about disapproval for their ideas – that open, productive discussion did not happen. Instead, it was more like groupthink.

Groupthink Versus We Think     p. 134

  • At Enron, the executives believed that because they were brilliant, all of their ideas were brilliant.

The Praised Generation Hits the Workforce     p. 136

Are Negotiators Born or Made?     p. 137

Corporate Training: Are Managers Born or Made?     p. 139

Are Leaders Born or Made?     p. 141

  • The lesson is: Create an organization that prizes the development of ability – and watch the leaders emerge.

Relationships: Mindsets in Love (Or Not)     p. 144

  • When people have the fixed mindset, they felt judged and labeled by rejection. It was as though a verdict had been handed down and branded on their foreheads: UNLOVABLE! And they lashed out.

Relationships Are Different     p. 147

  • Meaning that as a society, we don’t understand relationship skills. Yet everything is at stake in people’s relationships.

Mindsets Falling in Love     p. 148

  • One problem is that people with the fixed mindset expect everything good to happen automatically.
  • In the growth mindset, there may still be that exciting initial combustion, but people in this mindset don’t expect magic. They believe that a good, lasting relationship comes from effort and from working through inevitable differences.
  • John Gottman reports: “I’ve interviewed newlywed men who told me with pride, ‘I’m not going to wash the dishes, no way. That’s a woman’s job.’ Two years later the same guys ask me, ‘Why don’t my wife and I have sex anymore?’”
  • When people with a fixed mindset talk about their conflicts, they assign blame. Sometimes they blame themselves, but often they blame their partner. And they assign blame to a trait – a character flaw.
  • So once people with the fixed mindset see flaws in their partners, they become contemptuous of them and dissatisfied with the whole relationship. (People with the growth mindset, on the other hand, can see their partners’ imperfections and still think they have a fine relationship.)
  • Relationship expert Daniel Wile says that choosing a partner is choosing a set of problems. There are no problem-free candidates. The trick is to acknowledge each other’s limitations, and build from there.
  • Remember how hard it is for people with the fixed mindset to forgive? Part of it is that they feel branded by a rejection or breakup. But another part is that if they forgive the partner, if they see him or her as a decent person, then they have to shoulder more of the blame themselves.
  • Yet the last thing I wanted to be was one of those kids who begged for approval from a withholding parent. Then I realized something. I controlled half of the relationship, my half. I could have my half of the relationship. At least I could be the loving daughter I wanted to be. In a sense, It didn’t matter what she did. I would still be ahead of where I was.
  • In a relationship, the growth minds lets you rise above blame, understand the problem, and try to fix it—together.

The Partner as Enemy     p. 157

Competition: Who's the Greatest?     p. 158

Developing in Relationships     p. 159

Friendship    p.  160

  • But as in all relationships, people’s need to prove themselves can tilt the balance in the wrong direction.

Shyness     p. 163

  • Beer found, first, that people with the fixed mindset were more likely to be shy. This makes sense. The fixed mindset makes you concerned about judgment, and this can make you more self-conscious and anxious. But there were plenty of shy people with both mindsets, and when she looked at them more closely, she found something even more interesting. 
    • Shyness harmed the social interactions of people with the fixed mindset but did not harm the social relations of people with the growth mindset.
  • Shy growth-minded people looked on social situation as challenges. Even though they felt anxious, they actively welcomed the chance to meet someone new. The shy fixed people, instead, wanted to avoid meeting someone who might be more socially skilled than they were. They said they were more worried about making mistakes.   

Bullies and Victims: Revenge Revisited     p. 163

  • In our studies, we have seen perfectly normal people – children and adults – respond to rejection with violent fantasies of revenge.
  • Even if a victim doesn’t have a fixed mindset to begin with, prolonged bullying can instil it.

Parents, Teachers, and Coaches: Where Do Mindsets Come From?     p. 173

  • Every word and action sends a message. It tells children – or students, or athletes – how to think about themselves.

Parents (and Teachers): Messages About Success and Failure     p. 174

  • If you’re like most parents, you hear these as supportive, esteem boosting messages. But listen more closely. See if you can hear another message. It’s the one children hear:
    • “You learned that so quickly! You’re so smart!”
      • If I don’t learn something quickly, I’m not smart.
    • “Look at that drawing. Martha, is he the next Picasso or what?”
      •  I shouldn’t try drawing anything hard or they’ll see I’m not Picasso.
    • “You’re so brilliant, you got an A without even studying!”
      • I’d better quit studying or they won’t think I’m brilliant.  
  • He projects an over-inflated view of his abilities and claims he can perform better than others (both intellectually and in physical activities), but will not attempt such activities, because of course, in his failure he would be shattered.
  • It just means that we should keep away from a certain kind of praise—praise that judges their intelligence or talent. Or praise that implies that we’re proud of them for their intelligence or talent rather than for the work they put in.
  • When children hear their parents level fixed judgment at others, it communicates a fixed mindset. And they have to wonder, Am I next?
  • There is a strong message in our society about how to boost children’s self-esteem, and a main part of that message is: Protect them from failure! While this may help with the immediate problem of a child’s disappointment, it can be harmful in the long run.
  • Many parents think that when they judge and punish, they are teaching . . . They’re not teaching their children how to think through the issues and come to ethical, mature decisions on their own.
  • It’s not that growth minded parents indulge and coddle their children. Not at all. They set high standards, but they teach the children how to reach them.
  • We’ve studied kids ranging from six years old to college age. Those with a fixed mindset feel their parents won’t love and respect them unless they fulfill their parents’ aspirations for them.

Teachers (and Parents): What Makes a Great Teacher (or Parent)?     p. 193

Coaches: Winning Through Mindset     p. 202

Our Legacy     p. 211

  • As parents, teachers, and coaches, we are entrusted with people’s lives. They are our responsibility and our legacy. We now know that the growth mindset has a key role in helping us fulfill our mission and in helping them fulfill their potential.

Changing Mindsets    p.  213

The Nature of Change     p. 213

  • In the 1960s, psychiatrist Aaron Beck was working with his clients when he suddenly realized it was their beliefs that were causing their problems.
  • This chapter is about changing the internal monologue from a judging one to a growth-ordinated one.

The Mindset Lectures     p. 216

A Mindset Workshop     p. 218

Brainology     p. 221

More About Change    p.  224

  • When people hold on to a fixed mindset, it’s often for a reason. At some point in their lives it served a good purpose for them. It told them who they were or who they wanted to be (a smart, talented child) and it told them how to be that (perform well). In this way, it provided a formula for self-esteem and a path to love and respect from others.

Taking the First Step     p. 226

People Who Don't Want to Change     p. 230

  • Many people with the fixed mindset think the world needs to change, not them.
  • People with a fixed mindset often run away from their problems. If their life is flawed, then they’re flawed. It’s easier to make believe everything’s all right.

Changing Your Child's Mindset     p. 234

Mindset and Willpower     p. 239

Maintaining Change     p. 242

The Road Ahead     p. 246

Notes     p. 247

Recommended Books     p. 267

Index     p. 269