I love to read.
That is a sentence that I never anticipated writing. My 25 year old self would laugh at the thought of such a sentence. Hell, I wouldn’t have genuinely said such a thing 6 months ago. A few months after we got married, whether it be due to a new found feeling of adulthood or otherwise, I picked up a book. This particular book was called The Total Money Makeover by Dave Ramsey. My mom had given it to me years ago, but I never had the urge to pop it open until about February of this year (funny how being married came with this new adult subconscious). I truly had no intention into diving in wholeheartedly, but within a week or so I had finished it. It was engaging and informational. I was drawn in quickly and it created this thirst for more information and knowledge. Since finishing up The Total Money Makeover, I have gone on a bit of a reading binge. I’ve gone through about 6 or 7 books in that time and have ordered more to be sure that I don’t run out.
With that said, I think it’s important that people share out what they have read and found useful. Some of the best books that I have come across have come from either reading lists or influential individual’s recommendations. If I can take the time to share out my insights on some of the books that I have read, it has two great benefits:
- Someone who is unfamiliar with the book can take some of my observations and use them to decide whether or not they want to read the book.
- By conceptualizing and writing about what I’ve read, I will gain a better understanding for the information than if I would have just read the book, closed it up, and never looked at it again.
It’s a win-win!
Although The Total Money Makeover was the first book I read (in a loooooooonnng time), there is a book that I’ve read since that I have found to be more intriguing and influential: Mindset by Carol Dweck. The school district that I work in provided me with a copy when I was hired. It collected many layers of dust on a shelf in our apartment until I got back into this whole “reading” thing. Once the I got the spark to open it up, I couldn’t put it down. It covers the concept of your mindset and how it affects the way you see daily tasks, your job, your relationship and the world in general. It is an amazing book for anyone looking to improve their life and how they view it. Please enjoy my (hopefully) brief summary below! I would love to hear any feedback you might have or any books that you recommend in the comments 🙂
Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset
Carol Dweck’s Mindset dives deep into what she calls a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. She takes these concepts and weaves them through many applicable settings including relationships, occupation, learning, teaching and so on. I’ll do my best to give a simple description of each:
Fixed Mindset: Someone who has a fixed mindset believes that people (including themselves) have unchanging (or fixed) characteristics and abilities. If a person isn’t good at math, they expect that person (again, this could be a reflection of their own traits) will forever be bad at math. No matter how many extra hours they put in, or how many different teachers they seek out, they will never get better at math. To quote the great philosopher Drake…..okay, I know that’s a stretch…”If you ain’t got it, you ain’t got it, the theory is brilliant”. This can be applied to all skill including athletics, musical ability, public speaking, etc. Characteristics are also believed to be unchanged under this mindset. Things like being shy, being lazy, or a commitment-phobe will forever be that way. The flip side of this mindset is how an individual that is bright, skilled, or has charming characteristics is seen: it’s innate talent. Someone who is good at something doesn’t have to work for it, because they are a “natural”. In fact, on some level, showing effort is often a sign of weakness for individuals who fall into the fixed mindset. If someone is good at something, they should make it look easy, right? Dweck writes about many studies that involve people with a fixed vs. a growth mindset. Those with a fixed mindset often avoided things that were challenging out of fear of “looking bad” or “feeling stupid”.
Growth Mindset-Someone who has a growth mindset, however, sees life and it’s daily tasks in a completely different way. For individuals with a fixed mindset, failure can be debilitating. It is a shot at the ego, pride and general self-worth. For people with a growth mindset, failure is simply feedback. To quote Robin S. Sharma (a little more respected in the philosophical quote game, I’m sure), “There are no mistakes in life, only lessons. There is no such thing as a negative experience, only opportunities to grow, learn and advance along the road of self-mastery. From struggle comes strength. Even pain can be a wonderful teacher.” This is what allows people with a growth mindset to change and expand their knowledge. They take information, good or bad, and use it to better themselves and the decisions they make. There are no “naturals” in the growth mindset, nor are their people who can’t attain a certain skill. Any skill or piece of knowledge can be learned to some extent given the growth mindset.
Now, Dweck not only does a great job of making these two mindsets crystal clear (much better than I have), but she also shows many examples of every day life that would showcase their comparison.
Education-Praising process over product
One very cool study that was covered in the book was one in which they had elementary school children working on puzzles. They started each child off with an average, easy to solve puzzle. Then they praised the students one of two ways: for half of the students they praised their product and intelligence level (“That puzzle looks great! You’re so smart to have figured that out”), then the other half were praised for their process and work ethic (“You worked so hard to finish that puzzle! Great job and great work!”). After the students were praised, they were given the option of two new puzzles to solve; one that was harder and one that was about the same in difficulty level. The students that were praised for their work ethic and process universally chose to try the harder puzzle. They were excited and engaged in the task, because it wasn’t about failing it was about trying new thigns and techniques and learning along the way. The students who were praised for their product almost universally chose the puzzle with the similar, average difficulty. Why? Because they didn’t want to be not smart. They feared that if they tried something harder, but failed, they wouldn’t be “smart” anymore. It was an incredible showcase of the growth and fixed mindsets at such a young age.
Relationships and Marriage
A lot of people look at couples that are happy and in love as “so lucky”. It’s great that they found each other and “they just work”. There’s no effort needed and they live life happily ever after. Dweck sheds light on this and shows that it’s actually the opposite. Having a quality relationship takes hard work and some form of the growth mindset to reach it’s full potential. We are all human and will make mistakes, but having a fixed mindset will only make those mistakes or unsightly characteristics more magnified. They become things that are unchangeable and they stunt a relationships growth. For individuals with a growth mindset, though, couples can share openly and honestly in a respectful way so that each individual can work on themselves AND the relationship as a whole.
Dweck highlights a few top notch CEOs in the book; some of the fixed mindset and some of the growth. What she showed was that those with the fixed mindset were comfortable in their successes. If their company had a good product that was selling, there was no use in working on that product or possibly exploring different business avenues to grow with the times. This ultimately led to the demise of many companies, due solely to their CEOs stunted or fixed vision on what it meant to be a successful company. Growth mindset CEOs that were highlighted, however, showed different results. In each case, no matter how good or bad the company was doing, they were actively seeking out feedback and ways to make their company and product better. These CEOs did their jobs and did them well and their employees respected them that much more because they were willing to take feedback from anyone in the trenches of the company.
These are just a few of Dweck’s many observations and insights about the growth and fixed mindsets. She goes much further into how to tell what mindset you have and ultimately how to transform yourself into a person with a growth mindset. Since reading the book I have been pushing myself to do just that. The biggest takeaway I have from the book is the phrase “failure is just feedback”. It has been an eye opening experience to look at mistakes I make or “failures” and simply try to take the information presented from the situation and learn from it.
I hope that those of you who haven’t read Mindset feel inspired to go grab a copy. I also hope that if you have read it or any other book that you feel aligns well with Dweck’s message to let us know in the comments below!
Have a great rest of your day people! Until next time…