Maybe you are like me (or maybe not) but I grew up thinking that people were born with set skills, traits, and competencies. Either you have it or you don’t. Either you are an A student or a C student. Either you will be successful in your career or you will meander from one pointless job to another job. Either you are a charismatic people person or you are an awkward wallflower. No one says this directly, or at least where I grew up in the south, but we often make this assumption. It might unconscious when we do it but when we think this way, we put others and often ourselves in boxes where there is limited room for growth and change. I know that this isn’t a healthy way to think and as a therapist, I know all the correct ways to challenge unhealthy thinking patterns. However, I’m not above it even if it is something I work on with clients on a daily basis…we are all human, right?
In efforts to learn more in this area, I discovered a practical, enlightening and incredibly relevant book by Carol Dweck called Mindset. In Mindset, Dweck states that success is determined not by intellect but by a growth mindset. What is a growth mindset? It is the ability to view a challenging situation or even a failure as an opportunity for growth. The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset which is rather black/white and “all or nothing” thinking.
I like this book because it isn’t the “fluff” produced by pop positive psychology that has no research to back it up. While her theory sounds nice, Dweck offers 30 years of research from individuals and corporations who have utilized the growth. A rather compelling argument if you ask me!
This book uncovers how detrimental a stuck mindset can be in all areas of life, from the bedroom to the boardroom. Many times people with a fixed mindset avoid risks because their fear of failure causes them to give up too early or not even try. They look at situations through an all or nothing lens, which limits potential future jobs, dates, career paths, and opportunities for success. Even more importantly, it impacts how people see themselves as they limit their own capacity for growth and change.
After reading this book, I am amazed at how often I see this in my clients, my friends and myself. I’ve found that it isn’t the opportunities that are the most limiting but the fixed mindsets that make one stuck and stagnant. For example, I’ve worked with people who have grown leaps and bounds, sometimes those who aren’t the “best and the brightest” and they are the ones who’ve moved into the growth mindset. While they might not have had the highest IQ, they are in fulfilling relationships, competitive jobs, and generally satisfied with their lives.
No book is a “silver bullet” but this one is truly exceptional as it offers value to women at every life stage, from students to moms to corporate executives. If you’d like to have greater success without getting back on the treadmill of performance or adding more to the “to do list” then I encourage you to read this book. Ready, set, growth!
- Dr. Emily Shupert