I’ve just completed “Mindset – the New Psychology of Success” by Carol S. Dweck and think it can be a great resource for coaching and for our own self-growth. Dweck talks about two different mindsets that people fall into:
- A fixed mindset, where we are either smart or not, talented or not, and setbacks are “proof” that we aren’t as smart or talented as we and/or others thought we were
- A growth mindset, where effort is more important than raw talent or intelligence (without effort) and where setbacks are opportunities to analyze and try something new
How many of our more challenging clients are operating from a fixed mindset? How much could we help them by opening up the possibility of a new worldview based on a growth, learning-oriented mindset?
Dweck gives many examples related to business, sports, and relationships in her book, but here are two examples that come to mind:
- After John McEnroe lost in mixed doubles in Wimbledon, Dweck states that McEnroe didn’t play mixed doubles again for twenty years. After losing his serve twice, while no one else lost a single serve, McEnroe stated, “That’s it. I’m never playing again. I can’t handle this.”
- Michael Jordan had this to say in an ad for Nike, “I’ve missed more than nine thousand shots. I’ve lost almost three hundred games. Twenty-six times, I’ve been trusted to take the game-winning shot, and missed.”
One of the most interesting findings mentioned in the book is that a comment as simple as “You did well, you must be very talented (or smart)” can lead someone towards a fixed mindset, while restating this as “You did well, you must have put in a lot of effort,” can lead someone towards a growth mindset, and toward improved performance.
This is clearly related to concepts such as self-determination and focus of control, but I think it’s packaged in a way that could be very helpful when working with clients and in everyday life. I’m also thinking that these concepts could be very helpful for those struggling with poor self-esteem due to ADHD and/or learning difficulties.
So, what do you think?