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April 02, 2007

More on Professor Carol Dweck and Mindsets

This is a follow-up to the posting of March 14th based on a new book called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. It is a video of Professor Carol Dweck explaining fixed and growth mindsets.

Also, this diagram explains the differences between the two mindsets. It’s great—but that’s not surprising because Nigel Holmes created it.

Thanks to Randy W. Blackford, adjunct instructor of the Psychology & Communication Departments of Messiah College for bringing them to my attention.


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» Carol Dweck Interview from Disorganizational Behavior
Guy Kawaski posted an interview with Carol Dweck (courtesy of Stanford News Service), author of the new book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. She discusses the difference between growth and fixed mindsets. Technorati Tags: Carol Dweck, mindsets,... [Read More]

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Hi Guy Kawaasaki!!!,Trackback from wedoit4you.com on More on Professor Carol Dweck and Mindsets at http://www.wedoit4you.com/archive/2007/04/02 [Read More]

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» Open Mindedness - Growth Mindset from An Open Mind
Take a look at this post on Guy Kawasaki’s blog; it includes a great diagram that describes the difference a fixed and growth mindsets, from Professor Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Visit Kawasaki’s post for more [Read More]

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» Mindsets Diagram from There is No Maximum to Human Potential
This is a follow-up to my previous post on mindsets highlighting the work of Dr. Carol Dweck. I noticed a posting on Guy Kawasaki's blog that listed a cool diagram created by Nigel Holmes. It is a great graphical display [Read More]


I don't know if the categorization of "fixed" and "growth" mindsets is being biased in a way, as it seems like the "growth" side would always have to be the good guys. While I personally think, there's a (slight) generalization being made here, it's still important to notice those who belong to the "growth" side, would undoubtedly perform better than their "fixed" counterparts (based on most circumstances, of course). This has been proved over and over again (in my organization), as those willing to learn from past mistakes, would get better each time in dealing with a new project or task. Accepting challenges, I agree, is a way of improving yourself (and your mindset), notwithstanding other factors, such as experience, ambition and motivation, but how do you rationalize; is this something you're born with, or that can be developed over time? Not factoring out one from the other, I believe there's a level of flexibility in every individual, to bend one's mindset (to a certain extent) in order to fit in the other when the situation compels one to do so.

Should the idea of Carol Dweck take flight, it will be the end of our world as we know it. First, in a good way. People start getting aware about what group they are in and education will be adjusted accordingly. Give that some time (a decade or two) and the #2 and #3 group from the previous post will combine in their efforts to destroy 'The Flexibles'. They belief in their smart and in an ideala world they would create utopia (or close). But 'The Fixed' can't stand it (being looked down on and unable to do something about it from within themselves) and start fighting. The Flexibles won't put up much of a fight: they believe more in peace and discussion, whereas the Fixed believe in going down struggling. In the end, only 'The Fixed' will stay around, hence no more intellectual room for growth, hence the end of the human race.

I just read with fascination both your initial post on Carol Dweck and “The Effort Effect”. Though I have not read the book yet, the Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, after reading your post I plan on purchasing it immediately.

However, I would like to offer you the following as it relates to academia, employees and children.

1. One of my best friends is a Finance Professor at a prominent educational institution. Her husband owns an institutional asset management firm. One of her colleagues was writing a hedge fund book. We discussed his knowledge. She laughed. Enough said.

2. Einstein said, “Information is not knowledge, imagination is everything. It’s more important than knowledge. The only thing that interferes with my learning is my education. Does academia follow Einstein’s advice? No.

Let’s address the issue of success. Now granted I haven’t read Dweck’s book, but how are are academics judged? How do they become so-called experts? Isn’t it based on what they publish? Isn’t it based on their research?

If you doubt my claim, Richard Levin, President of Yale University said in an article titled, “Yale’s less global than I thought it could be” here’s what he said in the subject:

Tang: Jennifer Washburn, an American education expert, recently published a book entitled The Corporate Corruption of American Higher Education. The title is very sensational, isn't it? The book argues that commercial forces have quietly transformed virtually every aspect of academic life. Many problems occur accordingly in elite universities: Students rate their teachers poorly; Teaching is neglected while research overemphasized; Non-faculty employees are too many; Top and tenure professors are overpaid; Faculty members becoming too old. How do you think of those problems? Is the writer exaggerating?

Levin: I do believe Ms. Washburn is exaggerating but there is a kernel of truth in what she says. The challenge for me as a university president is to ensure that teaching is not neglected, that research continues to thrive, and that students continue to be challenged by their professors.

3. Ben Franklin was self-published. You have published a few books Guy. You know getting published has everything to do with your platform----how big are you, can your books sell? Because the reality is publishers don’t know how to market do they? They just want to know if you can sell the books, don’t they?

4. Relative to learning, knowledge and who the so-called expert is, let’s talk about Thomas Jefferson. Have you ever been to Monticello? If you haven’t go check out his library. He was self-taught.

5. I’m fully cognizant of the fact that you are on the Board at Stanford. So my issue is not to throw research or academics under the bus, it simply to put it into perspective. I am an advocate of research…I whole heartedly support and believe we cannot live without research. But do we need a paradigm shift in the academic world as it relates to research? Yes we do. However, that is another topic for another post, which I will follow up with in my own blog at http://evnucci.wordpress.com.

As it relates to Stanford, I have an enormous amount of respect for Stanford. I believe it’s a little different than many academic institutions. How?

a. My impression is they offer an entrepreneurial environment…I do not have first hand knowledge of this, however, given my experience all one has to do is evaluate cause and effect. This isn’t rocket science.
b. Look at their student population
c. Their alumni.
d. Their professors.
e. Their VC program
f. Let’s look at you Guy!

6. So what irritates me about Dweck’s book is they studied success relative to student’s right? Now, I’m sure their intentions are good. But how can you study success when you have not applied it to the real world? Now I may be wrong, because I haven’t read the book yet and if so, then please forgive my ignorance and it wouldn’t be the first time I’d be wrong. But here’s my question, why would you not study people who have failed and succeeded? Why would you not go into the real world and see who are the learning machines? Why does this matter? Here’s why it matters:

a. I believe the author's premise may be flawed. You can have a growth mind, yet fail miserably! How? Academia focuses solely on intellectual pursuits. Academia fails miserably at educating youth self-awareness, interpersonal skills, and career management. I will give you a perfect example. I was a seminar with a Harvard graduate. A brilliant young lady. She was eager to learn. But she was without a doubt one of the most arrogant and pompous people in the group. She kept her distance from everyone. Why? In her mind she was better than everyone else. When people asked about her, she replied, “just Google me.” So, let me ask you, did she have a growth mind set? Sure. But she’s not going too far in life. I have mentored thousands of young men and ladies....and all of them are clueless as it relates to what they need to survive in the real world! And who's responsibility is that? Academia

Another individual I remember interviewing years ago was a brilliant gentleman. Also eager learner. He would definitely have been in the growth mind set. Wharton MBA. However, ten years after graduating from Wharton he had five different jobs. Why? Because he was a pompous ass. He thought he was better than everyone else. The growth mindset doesn't work here does it? In other words, you can have a growth mind set, yet still fail in life, can't you? That's my point.

My issue is that magic bullet books with "secret recipes" are a misnomer...and to suggest they are an "answer" a particular problem gives the world a false sense of security.

c. I’ve spent the last 10 years interviewing about 4000 people for one of the fastest growing companies on Wall Street. They are the biggest asset management firms in the world. They are called, BlackRock, Inc. As the founders, have said to me, what is it that you discover that no one else can discover about people? What I do, Guy, is I go beneath the surface. I look to find the hidden jewels that no one else looks for. I look to see if they are hungry, they team players, are driven by the desire for excellence? Not for their ego, not to be arrogance, not so pompous they become a cancer in an organization. That they are genuine, authentic in their generosity of human spirit…..that they are truly an inspiration to others….they their is not so much of me and no room for we. And that’s the true secret of greatness. There’s a secret sauce Guy.

7. So how have I raised my sons? Here’s a perfect story for you. My middle son, DJ played ice hockey as a freshman in high school. He was put on the varsity team. Half way through the season he broke his collar bone. His sophomore year he went out for hockey again. He was demoted to the JV team. He was devastated. Now my son DJ is a bright young man. He never had to work too hard. And personally, though my heart was breaking for him, I thought this was a good lesson for him to have early in life.

Many parents would have picked up the phone and called the coach and screamed and carried on. I have no tolerance for parents like that. What do they teach their sons? Entitlement and that really makes me angry. I said to my son, “you have a choice, you can hang your head. Or you can go out on onto the ice and you can show that coach what you are made of. Now that’s what I would do. You think it about.” And I left him alone. My son went out onto the ice and he became the league highest scorer. The team went onto to win the league championship for the first time ever.

DJ got a letter for ice hockey his freshman year. His older brother Mike, had not lettered in a sport yet. Mike did crew. When DJ got his letter, I said to him that he has choice. He could take his letter home and show his brother his letter….that would be small. Or he take his letter home and put his letter in his drawer and that would be huge. My son, DJ took his letter and put in his drawer.
Two year later when my son, Mike got his letter as a senior doing crew, my son DJ took his letter out and got it framed. DJ quit ice hockey and committed himself full time to crew because he wants to go college with his best friend and big brother Mike who’s at Columbia.

Now, I’m sure in the heck not a perfect parent by any stretch of the imagination. But I will tell you this…..don’t give your kids everything. Make them work for it, don't tell them they are perfect, but love them. Don't let them watch television during the week. Ever. Validate their decision making. Teach them the art of due diligence, set high expectations. Make them work for money early...don't give them allowances...make them start working when they are 10 or 11 years old. That way they understand the value of a dollar. Read my post, How 16 young men became giants.

While I think the concept is great. In general most people are a bit of both. There are areas in their lives where they show great determination and persistence and in other areas they give in to their fears. The idea that you are either one or the other is a bit rough I think.

Hey Doug, c'mon, 3 kinds of people in the world? What about the 4th, those who make broad general statements about everyone on the planet yet can't back it up with any credible evidence. I'm sure that's a real group.

How is that a great diagram? A diagram is all about about visual representation and the only distinction used in this one is a fattening solid green stripe vs. a thin blue one. What about representing how the growth and fixed mindsets react to similar situations. The focus should have been on the reaction and not the situation. Subtlety is cool - but this one is far too subtle to make an impact.

This is the coolest meme to hit the blogosphere in a long time. The video is hilarious though. Is she really being interviewed by a bobble-head doll?

I would say that I have a fixed growth mindset :-). I think it shows the impact and dangers of the judging mind. Growth seems to be one in which judgment is decreased, and understanding deepens. Good stuff.

Very interesting.

I'm not sure this is anything all that new.

As a writer, I know that the more I write, the better I get.

Something to that and brain connections I guess.


I'm an Occam's Razor kind of guy, and there's a much simpler construct that leads to the same conclusion.

I called this The Great Divide when I was in psychology practice. The distinction is between whether one responds primarily to the need to avoid pain, or the need to increase pleasure. We know these are separate brain functions because a) two different brain centers are involved (tickle one with a small voltage and you get pain, tickle the other and you get pleasure) and b) factor analysis of emotions can't get down to one global bi-polar emotion, but rather sticks on two separate factors, roughly called pain and pleasure.

What is being called Mindset here would be a special case of this more general principle. The value of the more general principle is that one knows to look for it everywhere in life. The value of specifying the special case is enhanced ease in finding it in one particular area of life.

And that was a truly great diagram by Nigel Holmes.

Hi Guy,
These are two extreme ends of the behavior spectrum and I think people sometime are in between these two mindsets based on circumstances. For example there are times when effort seems futile and other times when it is really a path to mastery or self improvement.
It is a good way to look at it, gives you the boundry conditions :)

Thanks for this post on the growth mindset... It will make a difference for me personally.
Nigel Holmes' illustration is prominently displayed in my office space.
- Noel

I just had a talk with my son this weekend and we decided there were 3 kinds of people in the world:
1. Smart people who know they are smart.
2. Dumb people who think they are smart.
3. Dumb people who know they are dumb.

#2, of course, is the most dangerous. Many people tell me that I'm smart, but the truth is that I'm a dumb guy that really works hard.


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