Growth Mindset by Carol Dweck: 5 Key Takeaways From Mindset
The concept of growth mindset by Carol Dweck is explored in detail in her revolutionary book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. The ideas in this book have the power to help you understand how to develop a growth mindset and completely change the way you think about success in parenting, business, school, and relationships.
Throughout Mindset, Carol Dweck gives many real-life examples of a growth mindset in action that are very easy to relate to. By the end of the book, you will understand how to develop a growth mindset and embrace your mistakes, setbacks, and failures in all areas of your life.
Let’s get into the top 5 key takeaways from Mindset by Carol Dweck. With each of these takeaways, I will share many examples of a growth mindset from the book and life in general. These will help you make connections to your own life so that you can start to see how to develop a growth mindset and apply it to all areas of your life.
You do not want to miss these truly revolutionary ideas!
Key Takeaway #1: How Do You Develop a Growth Mindset and Embrace Your Mistakes?
The first and most important takeaway from Mindset involves developing an understanding of what a growth mindset is and how it can be used to embrace mistakes rather than running from them.
Being able to answer this question requires a good understanding of the concept of growth mindset by Carol Dweck. In basic terms, a growth mindset is a way of thinking that allows people to see struggles, challenges, obstacles, and failure as more than what they are. People who have learned how to develop a growth mindset see setbacks as opportunities in disguise.
The opportunities that we can find in our struggles have the power to help us grow and learn. We apply certain skills that may or may not be developed when we face challenges. With the right mindset, we can overcome obstacles and find growth on the other side.
Applying the concept of a growth mindset by Carol Dweck means that we need to see the value in practice, effort, and hard work. These are the keys to improving and growing in all areas of our lives.
By comparison, a fixed mindset believes the opposite. A fixed mindset believes that people naturally have a ‘fixed’ set of skills and ability. No amount of practice will ever change this. A fixed mindset believes in avoiding challenges, and that failure makes us weak.
In summary, Carol Dweck provides the following fixed mindset vs growth mindset comparison throughout Mindset:
A fixed mindset:
- avoids challenges
- gives up when the going gets tough
- believes effort isn’t worth it
- ignores criticism or takes offence to it
By comparison, a growth mindset:
- embraces challenges
- doesn’t give up
- believes that we master skills through continuous effort
- finds the learning opportunities in criticism
What mindset do you identify with? Do you run from challenges or embrace them? Does criticism offend you, or do you use it to improve?
If you are looking for motivation to keep your mindset focused on growth and embracing challenges, check out our Mindset Definition Posters Bundle. Seeing these definitions in your home or your office will help you remember to choose growth in the face of whatever setbacks you encounter!
Key Takeaway #2: Relationships Aren’t Supposed to be Perfect
Based on the definition from above, it should be no surprise that the concept of growth mindset by Carol Dweck can be applied to understand and strengthen relationships. Since we all have valuable relationships that we want to maintain, there are valuable applications of a growth mindset in this book for everyone.
Carol Dweck shares that a growth mindset has the power to completely change the way you view:
- assumptions about love and relationships
- arguments with your partner, spouse, or children
- judgment and criticism in your relationship
If you are wondering how to develop a growth mindset approach to relationships, you can’t miss these key takeaways.
Myth: If you have to work at it, it isn’t meant to be
There is this cultural myth that everything in strong relationships should come naturally. If you are compatible, there should be no effort required to have a good relationship! Right? Well, the concept of a growth mindset by Carol Dweck suggests otherwise.
Many people have this idea that the best relationships are low-effort. It doesn’t take much thinking to figure out where we get this idea from. TV shows and movies are filled with ‘the perfect couples’ that just ‘get’ each other. They seem to be able to read each other’s minds, finish each other’s sentences, never argue… you get the picture.
We love these couples and strive to be like them in our own lives. And we pay attention when our families share their perfect stories. Throughout our lives, we are told that the best relationships do not have struggles, arguments, or require any work.
However, what we often overlook is that in the best TV shows or movies, these couples are also usually challenged in some way. If they weren’t, their relationship wouldn’t be realistic or believable.
The Bachelor franchise is particularly guilty of showcasing this ‘low-effort’ approach to relationships. On the Bachelor or the Bachelorette, contests meet a single man or woman and compete for their love. In just a few short weeks, the last contestant standing proposes.
While it makes for great TV, it is no surprise that the success rate of the relationships on the Bachelor is quite low. The contestants who win are usually those who find effortless love. They miss all the real struggle and growth that comes from a strong and healthy relationship.
Agreeing, Assumptions, and Criticism
Mindset tells use that it isn’t possible to always agree with your partner, or share all the same assumptions and beliefs with them. Nor should you want to!
If you agree with everything your partner says and thinks, there will be no growth opportunities in your relationship. You won’t be challenged or face any obstacles. We know that a growth mindset needs obstacles and challenges to grow and improve. This is no different in relationships!
Now, obviously if your relationship is filled with nothing but yelling and screaming all the time, this is a different story. Carol Dweck tells us that a growth mindset needs challenges to grow, but it also needs the tools to overcome these challenges. A relationship that is made up of two people not willing to listen or work together shares more characteristics with a fixed mindset rather than a growth mindset.
Examples of a Growth Mindset in Relationships
When reading Mindset, there are plenty of examples of a growth mindset in relationships that are very similar to my own marriage. I was one of the people who thought that relationships were supposed to be easy. I had hard relationships all throughout high school and beyond, so I was ready to find something effortless!
When I was younger, I used to think that I was entitled to a lot of space. I used to just tune out everyone in the house and hide in the basement playing video games. The assumption I carried into my marriage was that this would be acceptable in my marriage and with my family. Well, my wife had other assumptions about what a husband should do (thank the heavens).
Needless to say, we have had our fair share of arguments about our competing expectations for one another. And I couldn’t be more grateful that we have! I have experienced so much growth in the years of marriage we have shared. Instead of laying around playing video games all day, I am now a more intentional husband and father who works hard to finds ways to be present in the lives of my family.
Does this mean I am the perfect husband and father? No! Do my wife and I have the perfect marriage? I have no shame in saying that we do not! However, because we understand that marriage is about growth through struggles, we have a strong and healthy marriage.
So, how do you develop a growth mindset and embrace your mistakes in a relationship? You do this by listening to the criticism and checking your fixed-mindset at the door! Don’t let criticism from your partner lead to judgement over what is going wrong. Instead, listen to the criticism and look for the growth opportunities. Find ways to overcome your fears with your partner and communicate openly about them.
One of my favorite growth mindset Carol Dweck quotes about relationships is: “a growth mindset allows people to carry forth not judgement or bitterness, but with new understanding and new skills.”
It is easy to point fingers and hold grudges in relationships. However, a growth mindset allows us to view setbacks and struggles as a way of learning more about our partners and developing new skills to strengthen the relationship.
Key Takeaway #3: Change the Way We Praise Our Children
Parents all want their children to grow up to be smart and capable people. When our children show us that they are smart, we praise them.
One of the most important takeaways about growth mindset by Carol Dweck is about the way we give praise to our children. Carol Dweck explains that simply praising children for ‘being smart’ promotes a fixed mindset as opposed to a growth mindset. She proposes that telling children that they are smart sends the message that they have ‘permanent traits’ and that we are judging them.
When looking at how to develop a growth mindset, we know that effort and hard work are important. A growth mindset believes that these traits are responsible for success, and that there are no permanent traits. Carol Dweck suggests that we should praise the strategies, processes, and efforts that children apply, rather than the result. This sends the message that it is hard work and dedication that leads to results, rather than natural talent.
Children who believe they are naturally gifted tend to struggle with criticism and failure. Because they hold strong beliefs about their skills, they take failure personally. Their fixed mindset doesn’t let them see that they are growing and developing people that can always improve.
Examples of a Growth Mindset in Children
Children find the idea that they are naturally skilled an attractive one. Each of us (not just children) want to feel special and that we stand out from the crowd. Because of this, a fixed mindset comes naturally to children.
In one example that she shares, a boy comes home and tells his parents that he is smarter than the rest of his class. He feels confident that he doesn’t need to try at anything in school ever again. This boy already knows everything he is learning. He is proud of how smart he is, and regularly brags about how easy his school work is.
This boy believes that he was born naturally smart. He doesn’t believe that he has anything else to learn, and doesn’t see the value in working hard at school. A growth mindset believes the opposite. With hard work and the right mindset, we can excel beyond natural talent.
Carol Dweck shares a few examples of a growth mindset to illustrate how we can make a growth mindset more enticing for our children. To do this, it is our job as parents to really sell them on how awesome the growth mindset is!
We can take very simple steps to advertise the growth mindset during dinner conversations. We can ask each member of the family questions such as:
- What did you learn today?
- Did you make any mistakes that taught you something new?
- What did you work hard at today?
The trick is to speak with passion about the struggles you faced throughout the day.
- Instead of : “Ugh, I hate this project I am working on. It is taking so much of my energy during the day. I am so exhausted.”
- Consider: “I am working through this really interesting and challenging project that is teaching me so much that I didn’t know. I can tell that I am working really hard. I feel like I put in a lot of effort today, and can’t wait to keep going tomorrow!”
Our children are always listening. If we model the fixed mindset, this will become their default setting. Instead, we can choose to show them how to take risks and challenge themselves when learning. We can show them how to develop a growth mindset and embrace their mistakes. Soon, they will recognize that their natural ability is only the starting point on their learning journey. And if they lack natural ability, they will understand that with practice and hard work, improvement is right around the corner.
Key Takeaway #4: Applying Growth Mindset by Carol Dweck at Work
Our children all grow up, get jobs, and will either be an employee, or a boss to several employees. When they enter the workforce, they bring their mindset with them (for better or for worse!). Regardless of the career path we choose, the mindset that we carry will determine our overall job satisfaction as well as our level of success.
We all know a co-worker or a boss who exemplifies the fixed mindset. As you learn more about the growth mindset, you may even come to realize that you take a fixed mindset approach to your work. If you do, don’t worry! There are many examples of a growth mindset that Carol Dweck provides that will help you develop a different and more fulfilling approach.
The following examples showcase the differences between fixed and growth mindset employees and bosses. Think about which one you are, and which one you want to be!
Employees: Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset
Fixed mindset employees tend to:
- feel stuck in their work
- feel judged
- get defensive about mistakes
- not take criticism well when it comes from their peers or their superiors.
Growth mindset employees tend to:
- find the growth opportunities in their work
- feel that their co-workers are helping them develop skills
- learn from mistakes so that they are more accurate and efficient in their work
- find value in feedback and criticism from peers and superiors
Bosses: Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset
Fixed mindset bosses tend to:
- provide little flexibility in their routines and expectations
- do things a certain way because it is the way they have always been done
- value their own power over helping employees grow and develop in their roles
- hold back others out of fear that their own shortcomings will be exposed
Growth mindset bosses tend to:
- welcome creative solutions to problems
- spot strengths in their employees and provide them with opportunities to apply them
- see the value in challenging their employees with complex tasks
- provide training opportunities for employees to grow their skills and further strengthen their team
We tend to equate mistakes with weakness. At our jobs, it is easy to feel insecure about our stability if we make mistakes. However, with the right mindset, employees and bosses can see that mistakes are a way of growing skills. If you make too many mistakes, too often, a growth mindset will help you realize that there may be skills you are lacking to adequately perform your job. Taking action can lead you down an entirely different (and potentially more exciting!) career path.
If you are a fixed mindset employee that feels stuck in your work, consider quitting your job to pursue work that challenges and excites you! If you are a supervisor of a team that feels threatened by those that you manage, confront the gaps in your skillset and grow alongside your employees!
Whether it is the people, the work, or both, jobs are full of challenges! However, when armed with a growth mindset, we stand a better chance at finding success and happiness in our work.
Key Takeaway #5: Applying Growth Mindset by Carol Dweck To Schools and Learning
My introduction to the concept of growth mindset by Carol Dweck happened a few years ago during my time as a math teacher at an international boarding school. The school was in the middle of adopting a new philosophy that incorporated many ideas related to growth mindset by Carol Dweck.
As a member of our school’s Positive Education Committee, the book Mindset was my recommended summer reading. It was during this time that I developed a good understanding of the definition for a growth mindset, and how to apply it not just at school, but in all areas of my life.
Our school based our entire teaching and grading model off of the ideas in this book. We completely changed the way we spoke to parents and students about learning, marks, and grades.
Like most schools, we previously used marks to communicate how much students know about a given topic. Using a growth mindset framework, we changed to a system that uses levels and emphasizes how students can improve. We noticed a massive change in the way our students viewed learning, failure, and feedback as a result.
Our students also started to look at failure as the potential to ‘level up’. We were able to set higher standards and help our students achieve them by providing them with growth mindset tools to see the value in challenge.
With my understanding of the growth mindset, I was also able to help unmotivated and struggling students reach higher levels of success. As Carol Dweck suggests, it is important for teachers to model the use of a growth mindset in their teaching. I did this by showing struggling students that I was not going to give up on them. These students saw that if I was willing to work hard and not give up, then they could too.
This video summarizes my experience with growth mindset for classroom and school applications.
Applying Growth Mindset by Carol Dweck
I was introduced to the concept of growth mindset by Carol Dweck when I was newly married, without children, and fresh in my career. The things I learned then are still applicable today now that I am now a parent, years into my marriage, and much farther along in my career. I still lean on growth mindset principles and find new and exciting ways to practice them.
This is one of the key takeaways of how to develop a growth mindset. It isn’t something you just get once and keep forever. You need to keep applying it.
This is the opposite of the way we tend to think about problems in our lives. For example, how many people go on diets and exercise, but stop doing so once they lose the weight? We gravitate toward band-aid fixes rather than addressing the root problem or struggle.
Failure, struggle, obstacles, and challenges are unavoidable in every area of our lives. Relationships see judgement and criticism that lead to bitterness between partners, spouses, children, and friends. In school, students struggle to learn and fail to demonstrate their knowledge on tests.
A fixed mindset believes in avoiding these failures and struggles in order to find happiness. However, Mindset introduces the concept of growth mindset by Carol Dweck to show us that these setbacks are necessary if we are to experience growth in our lives. Ultimately, persevering and embracing obstacles is what will lead us to living more fulfilling lives.
Remember, we have the power to choose how we react in each and every situation. What mindset will you use to react to your next setback?
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