For Christmas and birthday this year I decided that I wanted books. Real, hold-in-the-hand, flick-a-page, smell-the-paper books. In the end I bought 18 brilliant business books and here’s my review of the very first one I’ve read in 2023….
‘Mindset – Changing the way you think to fulfil your potential’ by Dr Carol S Dweck
The book talks about two different mindsets: the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. My simple definitions are:
◦ The fixed mindset: winning and the end goal are the things that define your success along with how little or how much effort we had to put in to get there. It’s all about being someone special.
◦ The growth mindset: what we learn on the journey to great things is what defines our success along with how little or how much it expands our abilities and gives us memorable experiences on the way. It’s all about doing special things.
Dweck talks about our predisposition to lean one way or the other, whilst also acknowledging we have a bit of both in us even if we do have a stronger bias towards one mindset or the other.
Reading it felt like someone had lifted the lid on things that I already knew, but didn’t know I knew. As I read through the examples of behaviours and attitudes that exemplified the fixed or growth mindsets, I could clearly recognise them in the people around me and, scarily, in myself too.
The book is really helpful in lifting the lid on your understanding of what success and failure means to different people. It’s also an eye opener as to why some people around you can’t ever seem to get over setbacks and hurdles and reach the potential that you can see in them but they can’t see in themselves.
It gives you examples of fixed and growth mindsets and uses a lot of sporting case studies and analogies, which, if you’re not into sports and American football in particular, is a bit difficult to access. It also mixes business in with sport, family life, romantic relationships and brining up children which creates a bit of a jigsaw of mixed pieces. I’d have rather seen business, parenting, sport and relationships presented in 4 different books, but you did learn something from each section even if it wasn’t your main area of interest in the book.
The book is really effective in helping you reframe your language to encourage more growth in your world. At the end it gives you 4 steps to develop your growth mindset, one being to name your fixed mindset persona, which I really like. Mine is called Margaret Mary Pincer-Sharpe! This gives you some separation from your unhelpful mindset and with that separation you can talk more objectively about your behaviour and give the persona some good advice on how to behave differently next time. The creation of distance and time is reminiscent of the idea of giving yourself a few seconds to change a reaction into a response which is very much in the centre of becoming a more self-aware leader.
There are also echoes of the idea of the infinite game popularised by Simon Sinek. I can definitely see that the fixed mindset, the finite game and being reactionary are facing one way on the basketball court whilst the growth mindset, the infinite game and being reflective are all on the other team.
An interesting book which will give you insight into humans wherever you may find them. I definitely understand why this is a million-copy bestseller.
I give it a 4 out of 5 only because of the mixture of business, sports, romantic relationships and parenting that didn’t fit my personal situation and particular interests.