Book review: 'Mindset'

Mindset by Dr S. Carol Dweck

Book title:



Dr Carol S. Dweck

About the Author:

Carol Dweck is one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of personality, social psychology and developmental psychology. Her work is all about growth. As a professor of psychology at Columbia University it was Dweck who discovered and coined the growth vs fixed mindsets.

Why I chose this book:

  • I work with incredibly driven clients who pursue balance, confidence and high performance. Mindset is a key factor in the success of their outcomes so the appeal of this book is that by continuing to learn about mindset, I can better serve my clients (little did I know that what I was about to read would be incredibly challenge on a personal level for me too!!!)

  • I have always referred to Carol Dweck's work, so it was time to dive even deeper into her research

Am I glad I chose to read this book? Why?

  • Indeed I am.

  • Dweck's research has pushed me to challenge my own areas of life where I tend to lean towards a fixed mindset and I’ve already seen growth and improvement in areas of my life that I had subconsciously given up on long ago.

How challenging was this book to read?

  • I don't think it was particularly challenging, only sometimes. Dweck gives clear and compelling examples to help you digest her psychological concepts... So in hindsight the challenge probably came more from my four month postpartum brain that her writing!

  • Luckily I’m a total nerd and I highlight key text as I read so that I can re-read the book quickly to recap and further embed what I’ve learned.

  • One challenge though was the fact that some examples were painfully close to home for me… I felt like she knew me!!! But in the discomfort of becoming self-aware we’re given the opportunity to change(cue growth mindset..)!

The key messages of this book

  • There are two primary mindsets; fixed and growth.

  • We don't function solely from one or the other, rather we approach different things in our lives with either a growth or fixed mindset. We're combination of them both.

  • A fixed mindset means we believe that an intelligence or skill is fixed, it can’t grow, develop or change. This is a ‘you’ve either got it or you don’t' mentality.

  • The fixed mindset is a firm believer in either success or failure. Success boosts the ego and failure is a massive gouge in self-confidence because if you can’t change your intelligence or skill then that defines you as a failure yourself (eek!).

  • Those functioning predominantly from a fixed mindset tend not to try things they’re not guaranteed to succeed at and end up limiting their potential by default.

  • The growth mindset on the other hand is an ‘if you apply yourself you can develop your intelligence and skill’ approach to intelligence and skill.

  • The growth mindset doesn’t see failure – only opportunities to continue learning and growing.

  • Those functioning with a growth mindset aren’t necessarily more confident, they’re just far more willing to try and fail. But even then they’re not really failing, their failure doesn’t reflect on them or what they’re capable of – it’s all part of the process.

  • Ultimately? A growth mindset is what you wanter soooooo many reasons.

How this book impacted me as an individual

In all honesty this book was a massive slap around the face for me. It prompted a revelation.... A brutal awakening actually. The reality of what I was learning was tough. As I learned more and more about the fixed mindset I realised that I have a fixed mindset in a couple of areas of my life. As a life coach who is a massive advocate for the growth mindset (which I do also have in many areas of my life) I was devastated to unveil this! While it was crazy to me that I could have written off growth in certain areas, it was liberating to bring awareness to those things and look at them through a growth mindset. By the end of the book I saw so much potential!!!

This realisation has been an amazing opportunity for me to step up, practice what I preach and shift my approach to those areas of life that I had a fixed mindset into that of a growth mindset. I’m pleased to report that my basketball and my running have already seen a dramatic step up in progress as I’ve been prepared to fail, embracing the opportunity to grow slowly over time and not give up if I’m not perfect and amazing straight away (honestly a bit embarrassed that this was even a thing - I didn't realise I had subconsciously been telling myself I had maxed out on my skill development). My next challenge... to apply it to my art practice.

It was so interesting to learn how fixed mindsets in certain areas could have been instilled from such a young age by having a natural talent for things. Well meaning praise lead to a fixed mindset and is highly likely to be what limited my potential in the long run, from a young age (until now anyway). If you have kids, or if you are a teacher, then this chapter in particular is one you’re going to want to read. You learn how to praise in a process oriented way, not an end product kind of a way so that you can better foster a growth mindset in your children. If you have kids - READ THIS BOOK!

How this book impacted me as a Life Coach

  • I know for sure that I'll take this knowledge into my coaching practice and use it to empower my clients to unleash their potential.

  • Possibly the most exciting thing is that I've added practical and effective strategies to my 'coaching toolbox' that will help my clients to develop their self-esteem. This is something I’m incredibly passionate about and is often a welcome byproduct of coaching.

  • With a deeper understanding and awareness of my own fixed and growth mindsets I know for certain that I’ll be even better equipped to serve my clients in understanding the mindset they're functioning from and able to help them consciously engage a growth mindset.

Who would benefit from reading this book?

  • EVERYONE! (Not a paid endorsement, haha).

  • I honestly believe everyone can benefit from understanding the mindset they’re approaching something with. It will help people understand why they’re averse to taking certain risks and it will help others to embrace the process of growth. Others will learn how to foster growth mindsets in their children, aka helping them exercise their resilience muscles. Come on, even Bill Gates thinks everyone should read this book! It’s not just me!

  • Parents

  • Teachers

  • Coaches and mentors

Well, that's a wrap! Clearly I loved this book. It won't be the last time I read it. It's a phenomenal resource!

Let me know if you do end up reading it, I'd love to hear your thoughts about the book!

Ciao, Steph

p.s. I hope you found this blog helpful on your personal success journey. If you have any questions or comments on the blog or if you want to learn how Life Coaching can help you achieve balance, confidence and high performance then I’d love to hear from you! Or maybe you want to hear from me? Sign up to receive a dose of monthly motivation direct to your inbox!

Author: Steph Edmunds

Certified Professional Life Coach

Steph Edmunds is SESC's incredibly passionate, experienced Certified Professional Life Coach based in Launceston, Tasmania - coaching clients across Australia and the world.

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