“Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck (Updated)

“Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck

This book was recommended by a leader in attendance at last night’s Roundtable meeting on millennials.

Amazon description: “World-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, in decades of research on achievement and success, has discovered a truly groundbreaking idea–the power of our mindset. Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success–but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising intelligence and ability doesn’t foster self-esteem and lead to accomplishment, but may actually jeopardize success. With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to raise their grades, as well as reach our own goals–personal and professional. Dweck reveals what all great parents, teachers, CEOs, and athletes already know: how a simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area.”

This reminds me of something I read recently in “Hillbilly Elegy”:

When my turn came, I proudly announced, “Fifty minus twenty.” The teacher gushed, and I received two pieces of candy for my foray into subtraction, a skill we’d learned only days before. A few moments later, while I beamed over my brilliance, another student announced, “Ten times three.” I had no idea what that even meant. Times? Who was this guy? The teacher was even more impressed, and my competitor triumphantly collected not two but three pieces of candy.

The teacher spoke briefly of multiplication and asked if anyone else knew such a thing existed. None of us raised a hand. For my part, I was crushed. I returned home and burst into tears. I was certain my ignorance was rooted in some failure of character. I just felt stupid. It wasn’t my fault that until that day I had never heard the word “multiplication.”

It wasn’t something I’d learned in school, and my family didn’t sit around and work on math problems. But to a little kid who wanted to do well in school, it was a crushing defeat. In my immature brain, I didn’t understand the difference between intelligence and knowledge. So I assumed I was an idiot.

I may not have known multiplication that day, but when I came home and told Papaw about my heartbreak, he turned it into triumph. I learned multiplication and division before dinner. And for two years after that, my grandfather and I would practice increasingly complex math once a week, with an ice cream reward for solid performance. I would beat myself up when I didn’t understand a concept, and storm off, defeated. But after I’d pout for a few minutes, Papaw was always ready to go again. Mom was never much of a math person, but she took me to the public library before I could read, got me a library card, showed me how to use it, and always made sure I had access to kids’ books at home.

In other words, despite all of the environmental pressures from my neighborhood and community, I received a different message at home. And that just might have saved me.

Vance, J. D.. Hillbilly Elegy: A Memoir of a Family and Culture in Crisis (pp. 59-60). HarperCollins. Kindle Edition.

Update (20170119)

The Economist – – Special report: Lifelong education – – Cognition switch – – What employers can do to encourage their workers to retrain – – Companies are embracing learning as a core skill


When Satya Nadella took over as boss of Microsoft in 2014, he drew on the work of Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford University, to push the firm’s culture in a new direction. Ms Dweck divides students into two camps: those who think that ability is innate and fixed (dampening motivation to learn) and those who believe that abilities can be improved through learning. This “growth mindset” is what the firm is trying to encourage. It has amended its performance-review criteria to include an appraisal of how employees have learned from others and then applied that knowledge. It has also set up an internal portal that integrates Lynda, the training provider bought by LinkedIn (which Microsoft itself is now buying).

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