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I second the review of Mindset by Carol Dweck. This book is a result of her work studying these issues as a psychologist. Re-posting my summary:

Two mindsets:

Fixed mindset - talents, abilities and intelligence are fixed, endowed

Growth mindset - talents, abilities and intelligence are learned and can be developed

These mindsets are learned, and have fundamentally different reactions to challenges. The two-mindsets model is a simplification for the purposes of explanation.


The growth mindset embraces failure as a necessary part of learning. In fact failure is a indicator of an area for potential growth, if the opportunity is taken to overcome that failure. The fixed mindset avoids and fears failure; it is taken as evidence of a hard limit of your endowed talent.


The growth mindset sees effort as necessary to mastery. Almost any level of mastery may be attainable with the right regimen of practice. Obstacles are a normal part of mastery and must be overcome as a matter of course in order to grow. Criticism is not taken personally, but used to indicate areas for improvement and growth.

The fixed mindset sees effort as producing only small effects compared to their fixed ability. May be more prone to give up in the face of obstacles since it is thought that there is no new mastery to be gained. Criticism is more likely to be taken personally, as the individual identifies with the perceived limits of their ability and thinks that improvement is impossible beyond a certain point.

Perceiving others

The growth mindset is not threatened by others’ abilities. Others’ examples may serve to inspire. The fixed mindset is more likely to be jealous of others’ abilities since they are perceived to be highly desirable gifts and the result of luck and circumstance.

Teaching Children

Praise children by emphasizing their work and persistence. Do not use labels like “smart” or “gifted” that would reinforce a mindset of fixed abilities.


Growth oriented mindset is more likely to be understanding and ready to learn from experience. Fixed mindset sees problems as a result of unchangeable personal attributes and are pessimistic about change. More likely to have unrealistic expectations, like not having to work at a relationship that is “meant to be”.


Muhammad Ali, Michael Jordan, Babe Ruth and Wilma Rudolph are given as examples of overcoming early setbacks with a growth mindset.

Last chapter is a “workshop” of situations and questions to help you develop a growth mindset.

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