thank you, amazon

Most business books should be lengthy blog posts, not books. But nobody will pay for a book and if you said, “I blogged my ideas based on research we did” you would get laughed at. I love business books, they have great ideas in them, but the authors feel like they need to write a big stack of shit about it for the idea to be worth anything. And, in many people’s eyes, they’re right

That’s what happened with Carol S. Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. A little bit anyway. It has a great idea

– it is powerful enough to shift your perspective totally. Then that idea is repeated a thousand times. Repetition helps us understand things. So this can be a good thing. I’m going to give you the two-minute, two-cent version followed by my raw (dirty) notes taken from the book.

My good friend Carol realized that people can be split into two groups of people: the fixed-minded and the growth-minded. My (actual) good friend Reuben Pressman, who is a hero in the doing community, must have seen my fixed-mindedness when he threw the book at my face and said, “Maybe you would like to read that.” He’s a professional idea-haver so I very obediently opened the thing. Okay, so, fixed and growth. Fixed and growth.

People in the fixed mindset believe they have a certain set amount of intelligence, a specific personality. Because these traits are fixed you must evaluate every situation looking for confirmation that you’re okay, you’re doing it just right. When you don’t have anywhere to go, if you don’t think you can improve a certain thing, it becomes imperative that you have enough as is. It is then natural to attempt to convince yourself and others that you have, “a royal flush when you’re secretly worried it’s a pair of tens.”

Consistency is the hobgoblin of little men. – Ralph Waldo Emerson (my main man.)

Those with the growth mindset believe that their “basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts.” They don’t see the point in trying to prove how great you are when you could be spending time getting better. Richard Feynman embodies the growth mindset pretty completely, see what he says about receiving the Nobel Prize:

There is continuum of fixed and growth mindsets. You probably have one that is dominant and one that shows up only in certain places in your life. Maybe you have a growth mindset at work but a fixed mindset in your relationship. I found Dweck’s many examples most useful in pointing out areas I would never think to assign a growth or fixed mindset to. There is no area in life where you are stuck forever if you allow yourself to focus on growth.

click for the big’un — an overview of why to grow (taken from )

Dweck found the growth mindset to be the one taken on by most successful people (surprise!) and the fixed mindset to be paralyzing to a lot of people. When we focus on the doing instead of the elusive end we want to reach then we end up doing much better work. And we have more fun doing it. She’s hardly the first person to say that. Buddha said basically that a few thousand years ago. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi said that more recently in his great book Flow, which discusses his concept of, erm, flow. The idea is a good one. Now, who can say it in a way that forces us to care about it?

another nice table overviewing the two mindsets

Notes on notes: Numbers are pages. FM= Fixed Mindset (or, “people with the fixed mindset”) . GM= Growth Mindfuckingset (or, “people with the growth mindfuckingset”). These are straight from notepad to here and may not be complete ideas. Also, the quotes are from quotes I wrote down so they might be wrong. Playing telephone is hard, playing telephone with yourself is harder.

Le notes:

16: FM tells us effort is bad because expending effort signals that you aren’t smart or talented enough to just do it without trying too hard.

20: Initial success can turn a GM into an FM. “I’ve done it! I’ve arrived!” – But we never arrive until we die. Maybe not even then.

23: FM will only stay interested if they do well right away.

24: GM feel smarter when they’re learning something.

25: “Becoming (GM) is better than being (FM)”

27: FM blows context out of proportion (let’s tests define them) while GM knows tests measure snapshot of specific ability.

32: FM believes when they are winning they are superior humans. FM turns “I failed” into “I am a failure.”

You aren’t a failure until you start to blame. John Wooden (37)

38: FM causes more depression because because increased ruminating which means the fewer actions they took to help their depression. GM took more actions as they become more depressed. They became more determined.

41: American culture praises effortless success, downgrading trying hard. Cultivates FM.

43: FM is scared of effort so they can say say “I could have been.”

44: GM is scared of not making an effort so they don’t have to say “I could have been”

47: you can apply FM and GM to all areas of life

51: FM has fragile confidence because once failure happens, they are a failure. GM overcomes by seeking to overcome.

53: We fantasize about perfect times or seek people to worship us to feel in a false comfort that kills growth. It’s tough to try honestly and totally when you keep looking in and judging yourself for what is.

Just because some people can do something with little or no training, it doesn’t mean that other’s can’t do it (and sometimes do it better) with training. – 70

71: When parenting, better to say, “It looks like you really worked hard” than “this is good”. If you praise them just for being good then they will lie and cheat so they don’t fall behind, they’re scared to lose that positive label of being ‘good’.

81: Grow Your Mindset (Actions)

  • Find the history of how hard your hero worked to get where he/she is.
  • Consider that when people have beaten you it’s because they used better strategies, practiced harder, etc.
  • Compliment people specifically about growth things, like how hard they worked. (Spread the GM!)

I believe ability can get you to the top but it takes character to keep you there… it’s so easy to… begin thinking you can just ‘turn it on’ automatically, without proper preparation. It takes real character to keep working as hard or even harder once you’re there. When you read about an athlete or team that wins over and over, remind yourself, ‘more than ability, they have character.’ John Wooden (97)

98: Sports research

  1. GM athletes found succes in doing their best, in learning, and improving. This is obvious but highlights the importance of measuring progress.
  2. GM found setbacks motivating. Took them as information and wake-up calls to kick things in gear.
  3. GM took charge of processes that bring success and maintain it. Like their environment.

107: Grow Your Mindset (Actions)

  • If you have passion for a sport but assume you’re bad at it, try putting in effort and testing progress (physically and mentally).
  • Is there a sport you were good at until you hit a wall? Endowed talent can curse you – try it again with GM.
  • Attempt to find sense of success in improvement like great athletes do.

112: FM business leaders attempt to use company as platform to show their own superiority.

136: FM creates groupthink – leader thought infallible.

142: Grow Your Mindset (Actions)

  • Ty to be less defensive of mistakes
  • can you learn more from feedback?
  • do you re-affirm status by demeaning others?
  • is your workplace set up to promote groupthink?

144: In relationships:

  • FM thought themselves ‘unlovable’ when broken up with
  • GM was more about forgiving and understanding

148: FM on relationships, “If you have to work at it then it wasn’t meant to be.”

164: GM end up with better social skills

214: In the 1960’s Aaron Beck found thoughts were creating issues. He taught people to notice like “this isn’t worth anything’ but we can be aware — cognitive therapy.

215: Fixed mindsets makes big assumptions on things based on a small detail. “This means they are selfish.” GM does not have a judging mind but is more about improving.

216: Talented FMs may not expose themselves to failure because it means permanent failure. (Third time this made the notes. Hmm.)

228: Vowing to do something is worse than useless because it doesn’t get done and you feel bad about it. It’s important to make plans specific.

231: Basically FMs are scared to be inferior while GMs are having a great time learning stuff.


I’m going to try to go learn something and not punch myself in the face when I fuck it up. Godspeed. The Growth is with you, always. No, not that growth. That’s nasty.