It’s official: Nothing is impossible
If you have always felt that there are some things that you could never be good at (mathematics, science, drawing, dancing, chess…) because you’re “wired” a certain way, then this book is here to challenge that notion.
“Mindset” makes the claim that *anybody* can get good at *anything* they put their mind to. The author does not claim that you will definitely become the world’s best at your chosen activity or skill, but if you work diligently and scientifically, there’s almost nothing that you can’t become better at. This “growth mindset” is in contrast to the “fixed mindset” where one believes that we are born with a set of skills and that there is no way we can become better at other things.
A couple of caveats, though. The author points out that there are always going to be the 1-2% people who do have skills which would make us label them as geniuses. Then there might be the 1-2% folks at the other end of the spectrum, who might have learning disabilities and hence find it more difficult and take longer to pick up a certain skill. However, for the remaining 96-98% of the population, there is tremendous scope for improvement.
The other thing one needs to watch out for is that people who have a “growth mindset” in one area of life might have a “fixed mindset” in another. This was akn interesting wake up call for me.
I identify myself as someone who largely believes in the growth mindset, although I was barely knowledgeable of the term before I picked up this book. However, even I was surprised to learn that a skill like negotiation could be learned. This jolted me a bit and now I find myself questioning everything that I thought I couldn’t learn or be good at.
The book also touches on thei issues of sexism and racism. Negative labels can limit women and communities to feel that they canonot achieve excellence in certain disciplines; STEM or financial management, for example. I was glad the author mentioned this because it tied in directly to the essay “We Should All Be Feminists” that I read just last week.
The one criticism that I do have of this book is that the examples are mainly American. While I do understand that the book was largely aimed at an American audience, the success of it’s subject matter surely deserved an international comparison.
This book made me go back to “Grit” and made me realise how well that book was structured. In it, the author listed four reasons how grit could be cultivated: interest, passion, purpose and hope. This book addresses that last factor, hope. If people realise that they can get good at anything provided they put in systematic effort, they will tend to apply themselves to a job or a task for a longer period of time.
I cannot recommend this book enough, especially to parents and teachers. The book shows how vulnerable young kids are to labels and fixed mindsets and how making them believe from an early age that they could achieve almost whatever they put their mind to is much more empowering than feeling helpless and trapped.
- “It’s ironic: The top is where the fixed-mindset people hunger to be, but it’s where many growth-minded people arrive as a by-product of their enthusiasm for what they do.”
- “Just because some people can do something with little or no training, it doesn’t mean that others can’t do it (and sometimes do it even better) with training.”
- “Later, at a meeting of Hewlett-Packard engineers, Packard gave the young man a medal “for extraordinary contempt and defiance beyond the normal call of engineering duty.” ~grins~
Author: Dr. Carol S. Dweck
First Published: 2006
Number of Pages: 301
Price: Paperback – Rs. 330 / Kindle – Rs. 215.60 (Amazon.in)
My Rating: 8 out of 10
(Disclosure: If you buy the book by clicking on any of the Amazon links above, you will NOT get charged extra. However, I will get a small commission, 100% of which will go to charity.)