Wednesday, September 23, 2009

Mindset by Carol Zweck

One of the premises of Mindset, which is a book by psychology professor Carol Zweck (now at Stanford, but at Columbia when she wrote the book), is that *talent has little to do with success.* And hard work has everything to do with it.

If you believe your success is due to some innate quality, you're not going to take criticism very well, even if it's constructive. You'll feel like you are being attacked personally. And you might even stop doing whatever it is that you're good at, because any failure will prove that you are ordinary. Or, you might decide that you don't need to work as hard as other people in this area that you're great at, and then you're destroyed when you are eventually surpassed by "lesser" opponents.

But if you develop what Zweck calls a "growth mindset," (as opposed to a fixed mindset), you are free of all these worries and fears. You are limited only by the amount of work you want to put in. You'll have the strength to call up the employer who interviewed you and then didn't hire you, and ask why. Previously underachieving kids who are taught to look at intelligence as something that is learned, not inherited, begin to excel. Zweck draws her examples from sports, business and relationships; I love it when she points out that the high school basketball coach who didn't pick Michael Jordan for the team was not, in fact, an idiot. Michael Jordan just wasn't that great at basketball back then.

I highly recommend the book, but if you can't read it, check out the Mindset web site. It has a lot of articles and excerpts from interviews that Carol Dweck gave to the media, especially on how parents can help their children develop a growth mindset.

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