Book review

Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential

I first read this book not long after it was written. It had a big impact on me and my way of thinking. It held a mirror up to my face and helped me to see some of my own assumptions and areas where I could improve, particularly as a parent and a leader. So, I was delighted to be able to read it again for my book club.

First and foremost, I would recommend that everyone read this book or at the very least get to understand the concepts of a growth mindset.

I’ll be honest and say that I found it a tough read this time. Dr. Carol Dweck does like to give multiple examples to illustrate each point which I know people find useful. However, because I had already grasped the concept of the difference between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset, I found that a little tiresome.

However, once you reach a section that resonates with you that changes. When I first read this book, I had 2 pre-teen children and so the sections relating to how we should encourage a growth mindset in children were the most impactful to me.

Reading it now some 15 or so years later it is much more the fundamental concepts and the application to business and leadership that interests me. Others in the group found the sections on relationships or on sport more interesting so as I said there is something in there for everyone.

In very simple terms a fixed mindset is represented by the following thoughts:

Either I am good at something or I am not.

If I have to make an effort then I am not good enough.

Feedback is criticism.

Failure demonstrates my limits.

I will stick to what I know I am good at.

These behaviours are encouraged by a society that values natural talent over effort. We have created a culture where we are praised for simply being ourselves, for looking good, for being good at something rather than for the efforts we make.

Think of a child who is constantly praised for picking things up quickly – “Well done Mhairi you learned that so quickly! You’re so smart!”

Mhairi is happy because she has been praised and she learns that being quick to learn makes her smart.

So, what happens when Mhairi finds something more difficult to learn?

Yes, that’s right Mhairi thinks she is not smart!

This is a tough one as we want to encourage our children and praise them but we have to be careful about the messages we send them.

Perhaps a better approach would be to say “Well done, you did that really quickly, and I liked the way you re-checked your work or tried different approaches but maybe we need to try something a bit more difficult to see what you can learn”.

A growth mindset is represented by the following thoughts:

I like to try new things.

The more I try the more I can increase my abilities.

Feedback is essential for growth.

Failure is an opportunity to grow.

As parents, teachers, coaches, leaders and members of society we can help to encourage more of a growth mindset by remembering the following:

  • Making an effort is essential to growth.
  • Taking on new challenges also helps you grow.
  • Making mistakes shows you are pushing and should be welcomed as learning.
  • Feedback is how you gain external perspectives and should be valued.

Get your copy of Mindset – Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential by Dr. Carol Dweck.

Originally posted 2022-09-12 16:39:15.

Mhairi Richardson
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Mhairi Richardson

Mhairi specialises in coaching teams to help them achieve more and improve their wellbeing. Her focus is on building trust within the team and a combination of coaching, mentoring and facilitation and she can tailor the program to the needs of your business. She enjoys working with newly formed teams, established team or teams who just feel they should be achieving more. Mhairi is also a coach with a strong SME background, a focus on the detail, a high level of emotional intelligence and a strong desire to develop talent and grow high performing teams.

Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential

by Mhairi Richardson Time to read: 2 min