[00:00:06.4] ANNOUNCER: Welcome to The Science of Success with your host, Matt Bodnar.
[00:00:12.4] MB: Welcome to The Science of Success. I’m your host, Matt Bodnar. I’m an entrepreneur and investor in Nashville, Tennessee and I’m obsessed with the mindset of success and the psychology of performance. I’ve read hundreds of books, conducted countless hours of research and study and I am going to take you on a journey into the human mind in what makes peak performers tick with the focus on always having our discussion rooted in psychological research and scientific fact, not opinion.
This is a very special episode of the science of success. To celebrate as we land our one millionth download, can you guys believe that? One million downloads. For all the listeners that had been here since day one and for all of you who are just discovering the show. We’re going to bring you an incredible special guest today, the author of one of my favorite books of all time.
This episode is all about mindset, what is a mindset? What is the fixed mindset and how does it shape the way we act in the world? What is the growth mindset and how can it transform the way that we live our lives? We look at research did from over 168,000 students, examine the mindset of champions, the danger of blame and excuses and much more with Dr. Carol Dweck.
The science of success continues to grow with more with more than 1,000,000 downloads. Listeners in over 100 countries, hitting number one new noteworthy and more. I get listener comments and emails all the time asking me, Matt, how do you organize and remember all this incredible information? A lot of our listeners are curious about how I keep track of all the incredible knowledge you get from reading hundreds of books, conducting amazing interviews, listening to podcast and more.
Because of that, we created an epic resource just for you. A detailed guide called How to Organize and Remember Everything. You can get it completely free by texting the word ‘smarter’ to the number 44222. Again, It’s a guide we created called How to Organize and Remember Everything. All you have to do to get it is to text the word “smarter” to the number 44222 or go to scienceofsuccess.co and put in your email.
In our previous episode, we went deep on sound. We discussed how sound changes your body and affects your heart rate. Breathing pattern and brain waves as well as your hormone secretions. The secret to cultivating soundscapes that make us happier and more productive. The incredible power of listening and how it can change your reality. How like sound waves, we’re all vibrating from the smallest physical level to the macro level and much more with Julian Treasure. If you want to discover some simple sound hacks to be happier and more productive, listen to that episode.
Lastly, if you want to get all this incredible information, links, transcripts, everything we talk about on this episode and much more, be sure to check out our show notes. Just go to scienceofsuccess.co and hit the show notes button at the top.
[0:03:12.9] MB: Today, we have a truly amazing guest on the show. Dr. Carol Dweck. Carol is a professor of psychology at Stanford University and a member of the American Academy of Arts and Sciences. She’s the author of the bestselling book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success which is one of the single most important books in shaping my life.
Her work has been featured in several publications including the New York Times, Washington Post, The Today Show, 2020 and much more. Carol, welcome to the Science of Success.
[0:03:40.6] CD: Thanks Matt, it’s great to be here.
[0:03:42.4] MB: Well we’re honored to have you on the show. For listeners who may not be familiar with you and your background, tell us a little bit about yourself?
[0:03:50.2] CD: Well, I’m kind of an egghead, I’m a professor but I also have broad interest in the world, I’ve always since childhood wanted to figure out how people think, how they work, how to make them more better.
[0:04:07.0] MB: You obviously wrote the book mindset which as I said at the top is probably one of the top two or three most impactful books that I’ve ever read in my entire life. I recommend it to people all the time. For listeners who may not know, I really want to dig in to the fixed mindset, the growth mindset and some of the key learnings from the book.
Just to begin, when you say mindset, what is a mindset?
[0:04:28.5] CD: Well, when I say mindset in the sense that it’s used in my book, I mean, people’s beliefs about their most basic abilities and talents. When people are in a fixed mindset, they believe their basic abilities, talents, personal attributes, personalities. That these are fixed traits, you have a certain amount, you have a certain type and that’s it.
But, when people are in more of a growth mindset, they believe that yeah, people differ but everyone can develop their talents, abilities and personal qualities. Again, it doesn’t mean everyone’s the same or everyone will go to the same place ultimately.
But it means, everyone has the potential to develop. And boy, when you look into things, all the people you think are natural super stars, underwent a long period of development, often with tremendous setbacks. It’s the sense that you can develop that propels you forward. Not just some natural talent or personality that you were born with.
[0:05:48.0] MB: Let’s start with the fixed mindset. Tell me a little bit more about the fixed mindset? How does someone with a fixed mindset think and how do they approach things like obstacles and challenges?
[0:05:59.6] CD: First, to make totally clear, we all are in the different mindsets at different times and I can talk about that later. We all have triggers that can put us right into a fixed mindset no matter who we are. That said, some people are more often in a fixed mindset and some people are more often in a growth mindset.
When you’re in a fixed mindset, you think, for example. My intelligence is just fixed, I have a certain amount, I can’t do anything about it, I really value being intelligent. The goal of my life becomes to look smart at all cost and all situations and never look dumb.
When you’re in that fixed mindset, a voice in your head says, maybe you shouldn’t do this, maybe you’ll mess up here. Hey, do this, people will think you’re really brilliant. When someone else is looking really smart, you feel threatened by that, when you're working on something hard and maybe struggling a little, you get really anxious, you think, maybe I’m not as good at this as I hoped I was, as I want to be.
When you hit a setback, that’s a calamity, that’s a real condemnation of your natural talent. If you are so talented, would you have had that failure? Would you have plunged into this mistake like that? Will everyone know it? Will you be unmasked, will you be found out finally?
The fixed mindset system is kind of this fear based system, kind of fear alternating with arrogance because if you’re going around thinking it’s fixed and you have this arrogance you feel, I’m better than other people who have less of it but if you’re struggling or having setbacks, then you’re feeling really kind of insecure.
But, what we found in our research whether you’re in the arrogant phase or the un arrogant phase, you’re not primarily a learner. You're not looking always to grow your skills to create teams that will help you develop and so forth. You're primarily about showing you’re smart.
[0:08:41.0] MB: How does the fixed mindset think about effort?
[0:08:44.7] CD: In a fixed mindset, there is a general tendency to think, if you’re really smart, you shouldn’t need a lot of effort, you shouldn’t need as much effort as other people and if you need a lot of effort, as much effort as other people, it might call your ability into question.
I think this is why so many promising people never fulfill their potential, they were going along, they were the smart one, they were the genius, they coasted along. They didn’t have to work as hard as other people because they did have the talent and the knowhow.
But, at some point, other people seem to catch up, there were competitors and at that point, the person in the fixed mindset has a choice. Should I roll up my sleeves and work hard too? Should I try new strategy, should I get a mentor, should I use resources to help me develop my abilities?
Or, should I retire while I was the smart one or should I go do something new? Often you’ll hear people say that I got bored with that, I didn’t like that anymore. That could be true but often it’s the case, they felt threatened, they didn’t feel like a natural talent anymore. They drifted somewhere else, I get a lot of letters from people saying, they just kept drifting from one thing to another, they went as far as their natural talent took them and then they jumped to something else.
They never really understood what the cause of that was. When they learned about the mindsets, they realized that if you’re in a fixed mindset, trying to feel smart all the time and you suddenly don’t, you go somewhere else, it’s not fun anymore.
[0:10:47.2] MB: How does someone with a fixed mindset think about criticism?
[0:10:52.1] CD: They don’t like it. When you’re in a growth mindset, you seek criticism, you ask for feedback, you work with people around what you need to improve because you believe, that’s how your talent will develop. By the way, it’s also smart strategy because when you get people to mentor you, they’re invested in you but in a fixed mindset. Criticism is humiliating, it’s and indictment of your natural ability.
You don’t really want to hear the criticism, you’re already putting your fingers in your ear, you’re already trying to discount it, trying to think or even explain out loud why the criticism isn’t appropriate. Even in relationships, if you have a fixed mindset about yourself as a person. In relationships, a partner may be trying to give you really helpful feedback about what they need or what upsets them or what isn’t working.
If you’re in a fixed mindset, you really take that as a slam, as someone pointing out a deficiency. In a fixed mindset, you need to be right, what you did was right. I talk in my book mindset about my fixed mindset legacy where I needed to be right and my husband and I had to invent this third person we called Maurice.
When something went wrong and when I was trying to blame him or he was trying to blame me, we said, let’s blame Maurice and then look at the problem, it’s his fault, let’s look at the problem, let’s discuss it like let’s get on with it.
In a fixed mindset, it’s kind of that blame game which is really destructive. In the example I gave your partner is just trying to give you feedback. Listen to it as helpful feedback because you want your partner to listen to your feedback, your needs, just take it as something that will grow the relationship, bring you closer, try to understand what that criticism is, whether it’s your boss, your partner or your family.
The more you listen to it in an open way and learn from it, the better those relationships will be.
[0:13:33.8] MB: The fixed mindset, it sounds like a pretty scary place and I know personally because I used to spend a lot of time there that it can be. Let’s change gears and tell me a little bit more about the growth mindset?
[0:13:45.9] CD: The growth mindset as I mentioned is a place where you believe your abilities can be developed. Again, it doesn’t mean you saying you’re Michael Jordan or Mia Ham or Yoyo Mah but you understand that abilities can be developed through hard work, learning good strategies, pushing out of your comfort zone as often as possible.
Just keep pushing that limit and getting lots of great input and mentoring from others. It’s a place where if you’re not pushing out of your comfort zone, something’s wrong. If you’re just feeling smart but not feeling you’re getting smarter, something’s wrong. When you get feedback rather than being threatened, you try to learn from it.
If you see someone who is really better than you at something you pride yourself on, instead of thinking, maybe they’re the ones with the talent, you think, I wonder how they got there? I wonder what they can teach me? I wonder how I can get as far as they got or maybe even further. The focus is, not on looking and feeling smart all the time or being perfect or beating out the competition for smartness all the time.
But, it’s about becoming smarter, growing, learning. Again, pushing out of your comfort zone, using mistakes and setbacks as opportunities to learn. It was a long time before I could really get in to the idea that setbacks were welcomed, setbacks were inevitable because it’s so different from a fixed mindset place.
I come out of a fixed mindset legacy, my sixth grade teacher as I explained in my book seated us around the room in IQ hoarder and wow, everything, it was already the highest IQ class in the school but for her, every point counted and not just academic things, she wouldn’t trust someone with a little bit lower IQ to carry the flag in the assembly or even erase and wash the blackboard.
We just got so inculcated that your IQ said everything about you and yet over time through my work, I started taking on more and more risks and challenges. When I wrote Mindset, it wasn’t common for academics to stretch into that, those areas to really put yourself out there, reveal yourself personally, talk to your reader as you talk to a friend.
In that growth mindset, you keep seeking experiences that will take you to some unknown and enhanced place and you can’t even imagine what that place will be until you stretch yourself and inevitably, people say that they’ve gone further than they ever imagined. Just by pushing out of their comfort zone all the time and by the way, collaborating with others, we have research in fortune 500 company showing that in a growth mindset setting, people collaborate, learn from each other, get smarter together.
In a fixed mindset setting, they compete with each other, hide information, cut corners, keep secrets from each other so that they can be the lone super star. You can readily see how people in that growth mindset setting get much further, innovate more, create more, rise in the company more readily.
[0:18:17.3] MB: You touched on some of the research that you’ve done and I think it’s really important for the listeners to understand how data backed and sort of research validated these findings are. Would you talk a little bit about some of the work that you’ve done on some of the research you’ve conducted?
[0:18:31.5] CD: Yes, exactly. I’m telling you the bottom line about the research but we’ve been doing research on the fixed and growth mindset for about 35 years. We have actually, and others have hundreds of studies with people of all ages.
For example, in some of the studies, we might measure people’s mindsets about their intelligence, ask them to answer questions like this, agree or disagree. Your intelligence, something very basic about you that you can’t really change, fixed or everyone, no matter who they are can become substantially more intelligent growth.
Then we look at say in students, we look at their achievement over time and we have often found that students endorsing that growth mindset, achieve more in terms of grades or test scores or going on to college or graduating from college.
Achieve more over time. Recently we did a study with all the 10th graders and she lay 168,000 students. Those who held more of a growth mindset, achieved substantially more at every level of family income.
We also have a number of studies where we teach people a growth mindset, more recently through online courses that we’ve developed for the research and again, we find that people who learn this growth mindset have a greater desire for challenge and they often go on to do better in school. We have that researched, lots of it, we have research on relationships, showing and so do other people, showing that people and more of a growth mindset are looking for not just personal growth and relationship but partner’s growth and growth of the relationship itself.
They are more open to feedback, they are more open to solving problems in more of a fixed mindset. The people are more interested in not approaching problems, not finding there’s anything wrong with them and if things start going wrong in the relationship, they start thinking, maybe this wasn’t meant to be, maybe this isn’t the right relationship rather than how can we talk about this and repair it and go forward in a stronger way.
We have a program of research on conflict in the Middle East where we’ve shown and are continuing to show that when either Israelis or Palestinians have more of a growth mindset that groups, the idea that groups have the potential to grow and change, they have a somewhat more positive attitude toward each other and more willing to even contemplate compromises for the sake of peace.
It is kind of really quite broad, some of my colleagues have shown that when people are in a growth mindset, they’re better able to handle stress, they see more things as challenges rather than stresses and they function better in situations that may be full of conflict. Those are a few lines of research that we engaged in.
Let me tell you one more in honor of Valentine ’s Day. One study I did with graduate student Lauren Howe, it actually came out last Valentine ’s Day. It showed having people recover from painful rejections. What we found was that people who live more of a growth mindset, a belief that they as a person could develop over time told us about rejections they had had and in one of the studies and boy, everyone said, rejection was super painful, you know, there’s someone who loved you and who knew you really well and they don’t want to be with you anymore.
How could that not hurt? But, looking back, people in a growth mindset said, you know? I really learned a lot from that, it was painful but I learned to be more open or I learned that that wasn’t a good match, I really need someone who is more this way and they felt it steered them on the road to finding a better match in the future.
People with more of a fixed mindset about who they are felt differently. Many of them, five years later still felt diminished, reduced by what happened, they felt that the rejection told them who they truly were, not the great person they thought they were but someone less than that and they’re still grappling with that feeling of being inadequate, they’re taking it into their new relationships.
They’re not being as open or vulnerable in their new relationships, thereby perhaps making the rejection more possible in the future but also limiting their new relationships because the shadow of the old relationship still haunts them.
Makes them feel bad, makes them feel fearful. It’s not that those with the fixed or growth mindsets started out being different people, but their mindsets made them react to this rejections in really different ways and they carried on, they carried this legacy forward in really different ways too.
[0:25:24.5] MB: Can we change our mindsets? Because I know when I’ve shared this concept with people, especially those who were sort of Mired in a fixed mindset, that’s one of the first questions that I often hear.
[0:25:34.3] CD: Yes we can. It’s not an easy process, it’s a long process. Well some people say hey, I had this insight, I get it and they can run with it. For many of us, we have fixed mindset legacy and that’s kind of our default but my colleague in Australia, Susan Mackey, developed this idea that I’ll tell you in a moment and she’s used it with business executives, teachers, students.
First is the idea of identifying your fixed mindset persona. It’s that person that lives inside of you and says to you, I’m warning you, don’t go there, you can make mistakes. This is much too hard for you, you’re messing up, I warned you. Look at that person over there, that’s the true genius. This person living inside of you, this fixed mindset persona, not trying to harm you, not trying to undermine you, trying to keep you safe but at the same time, we know a fixed mindset keeps us safe but keeps us stagnating or arrogant or undermined.
It keeps us in places that don’t allow us to grow optimally. The next thing you do is you try to understand the situations that trigger your fixed mindset. Could be different for different people. For some people, it’s being out of their comfort zone, for others it’s when they’re criticized, for others, it’s when they’re in a group and other people seem to be more knowledgeable than they are.
When is it that this person shows up? I saw Susan Mackey working with a business executive, he said, my fixed mindset persona is Dwayne and Dwayne shows up when we have a deadline looming, I’m not sure we can make it, he criticizes the whole team, he often takes the work back from them and does it himself.
At the end, he hates them, they hate him, everything even if he makes the deadline, everyone’s miserable and he and his team started talking about how it affects them all when Dwayne shows up and how they could going forward recognize Dwayne showing up and deal with him you know?
That brings us to the next step. Name your fixed mindset persona. Name it. Could be Dwayne, it could be your critical other aunt or uncle, it could be a teacher you once had, it could be a character from a book or a movie but you know, when people just give it some thought, someone typically comes to mind pretty quickly, a name comes to mind.
Okay, now, you’re going to work with that named fixed mindset persona. Again, don’t try to shove it back into its box, don’t ignore it, don’t insult it, don’t send it away, welcome it. Say Dwayne, thank you for your input, I hear you, maybe you’re right, maybe this is a risky venture but you know, I use people as a sounding board, people are on board, it’s exciting.
I’m going to learn a lot. I wonder if you can jump on board too, if you can join me going forward, then you know, you engage in the thing, it doesn’t work out as planned, Dwayne comes back triumphant. Okay Dwayne, I hear you, again, I know you’re trying to protect me but let’s see what we can learn from this setbacks and let’s move on together.
Can I count on you to collaborate? It’s a kind of make friends with that fixed mindset persona, bring it on board with your growth mindset goals, little by little, it doesn’t happen overnight. But whenever you feel anxious or threatened, it often means Dwayne is there. Listen to your Dwayne.
Make friends, bring Dwayne onboard with your growth mindset goals, little by little. We haven’t done research on this yet but almost everyone who has tried it has really been pleased by the process.
[0:30:34.0] MB: There’s a few different ideas from the book that I really want to hear your thoughts on, one of them is the distinction between success as improvement versus success as superiority?
[0:30:48.2] CD: Yes, in a fixed mindset, every success can be seen as a sign that you’re a superior being. That you’re better than others, the worst thing would be to be ordinary right? Ordinary like this other people who struggle and maybe you think of them as mediocre.
Each success says, no, you are someone special, you are better than other people and you can feel good about that. Every day you can go home and review all the successes you had socially, personally, in your work and feel like yes, I’m worthy, not just worthy but worthier than other people.
But in more of a growth mindset, hey, it’s nice to succeed, no one’s saying it isn’t, it’s nice when people like you in a firm, it’s nice when things work out, of course you want that but even more so, the fact that you have grown, that your relationship has reached another level, that you’ve turned a setback into a triumph, that you’ve grown from.
That you’ve understood something, you’ve worked hard on something and have understood something, that you didn’t understand before. Also, getting pleasure in other people’s growth. A success is when you’ve mentored someone or helped them and they’ve grown and they’ve succeeded. It’s got this moving forward impetus rather than just sitting there and basking in your greatness.
[0:32:51.8] MB: Another concept that I found fascinating and this was something that really resonated with me when I first uncovered it is the idea that effort robs you of your excuses.
[0:33:01.5] CD: Yes. There is a phenomenon in psychology called self-handicapping. What it means is you really handicap yourself, you go to a party the night before, big presentation, you don’t prepare till the last minute and you do that, you're handicapping yourself, you’re actually making failure more likely.
But, if you don’t do well, you have an excuse, you went to a party, you left till the last minute and if you do well anyway, wow, that really means you're a talented person. Going all out, putting all your effort into something robs you of the possibility of having an excuse for why it didn’t work out.
In a fixed mindset, this makes perfect sense that it makes sense that you would jeopardize your success in order to have an excuse but in a growth mindset, that’s insane. Why would you do anything that works against your improving and succeeding?
Because in a growth mindset, you know, hey, this is just the first iteration and even though its’s important, I’ll learn from whatever happens and as a team, as a relationship will be better off going forward. This foundation Silicon Valley that gives the failure of the year award. It’s for a team that went all out, did everything they should and could.
The project didn’t work out and then, they learned so many valuable lessons from what happened from that failure that the organization is in a much better place, the organization as a whole is in a much better place going forward to make projects succeed in the future.
[0:35:08.0] MB: One of the most impactful ideas from the book for me was the distinction between repairing your failure versus repairing your self-esteem and how it’s impossible to learn from a mistake, if you deny that you made one to begin with?
[0:35:23.7] CD: yes. In a fixed mindset, the goal is to, after a setback is to repair your self-esteem. We have a study where we give people a really hard task, they don’t do well, people in a fixed mindset choose to look at the performance of people who did a lot worse than they did, they’re not going to learn from it but boy they’re going to feel better than someone.
People in a growth mindset look at the performance of people who did a lot better than they did so they can learn and do better the next time. If you’re looking to repair your self-esteem, maybe you’re looking for people who did worse, maybe you're looking to place the blame, maybe you're looking to deny the failure, in any of those cases, you’re not going to be better off going forward.
Neuroscience research shows that when people are in a fixed mindset, the part of their brain that processes errors is hardly active. They are just turning away from that error as quickly as possible.
As a result, they’re not correcting the error at the next opportunity as much as people in a growth mindset. In a growth mindset, that area of the brain is on fire, it’s just super active, they’re looking at the error, they’re processing it, they’re learning from it and they’re correcting it.
Again, a setback in a fixed mindset is a terrible thing and of course you want to lay the blame or feel better about yourself because it brings you down, it means you're a lesser person but if you can get your fixed mindset persona to collaborate with you, you can say, all right, this happened. What can we learn from this?
How can we shore up this skill? How can we improve in ways we need to improve and go forward more successfully?
[0:37:43.0] MB: To me, that was really one of the most water shed things that I took away from the book was this simple concept that because you're trying to protect your ego and protect your self-image, if you don’t believe that you made a mistake and you’ve externalized that with blame or excuses or whatever else it might be.
It’s impossible for you to learn from that because by definition, you don’t think that you did anything wrong. Without a focus on that, you're never able to improve and it’s such a powerful concept. Another concept in the book that I thought was really interesting was the idea of the mindset of champions and how champions rise to the occasion. Could you talk about that?
[0:38:23.8] CD: Yes. There’s this example I give in the book of Billy Jean King, the championship tennis player playing against Margaret Court, another historic figure in the world of tennis. Billy Jean King was trouncing Margaret Court in a match, in a set rather and before she knew it, she had lost.
She, Billy Jean King had lost. Same thing happened again, she was trancing her and she looked around and she had lost and she realized, that’s what a champion is. There are days you're not at your best, you didn’t bring you’re a game, your focus isn’t there, your strokes are a little off and somehow, you find it within you to prevail.
Michael Jordan once played a championship game with a high fever and he dug down, he found it within himself an athlete, great athlete after great athlete, somehow they just didn’t — they weren’t in perfect shape that day but they found it, they found it in themselves, that energy, that focus, that will, that brought them to a victory.
By the way, we have a program of research on willpower and the people who do best are the people who say, “Okay, it’s in there somewhere, it’s large, it’s replenishable and I can find more willpower, more energy when I need it.”
[0:40:25.8] MB: Another cons have you talked about in the book that I thought was fascinating is the distinction between viewing people as judges versus viewing people as allies.
[0:40:34.5] CD: Yes. When you’re in a fixed mindset, you always have an audience. An audience that has the potential to judge you. Your boss is a judge, your partner is a judge, your friends can be judges. You’re always having to perform and prove yourself so the judges can give you back the validation that you need.
But in a growth mindset, you are surrounded by people you can collaborate with, you can learn from, who can give you constructive feedback, who are resources and for whom you are a resource. It’s a really different world, it’s a world of greater trust, it’s the idea that not all people, that your people but the people are there to help you develop, that people are in your corner rooting for you or at least you can find mentors and certainly your partner is rooting for you.
And that they are not judges. They are collaborators in your development. You can also teach them to be more that way, tell them what kind of feedback you need, tell them what kind of support you need. Now, I’m not denying that there are people judging or that there are situations in which you are judged but I’m saying, as a general view of the world, find those people who are committed to your development or can be resources for your development.
[0:42:28.3] MB: How do we reconcile the lessons of mindset with the idea or the advice of focusing on your strengths?
[0:42:37.1] CD: That’s a great question. Now, you get a lot of advice focused on your strengths and I’m not saying don’t focus on your strengths but I’m saying, strengths and weaknesses are really dynamic. Weaknesses, you could have weaknesses because you never built up those muscles, you never trained in those areas.
You can have a weakness that’s a weakness in one setting and a strength in another setting. So, nothing wrong with finding out what your current strengths are and your current weaknesses are but one thing I found by studying great leaders, CEO’s and so forth is that they built up their abilities in areas of weakness that would have held them back.
A lot of people tell me they thought something was a weakness but when they worked on it, when they got the proper input and the mentorship, they were really great at that. I have in my book some drawings, some before and after self-portraits of people who couldn’t draw to save their lives, a weakness but they took Betty Edwards drawing on the right side of the brain seminar and I think it was four days later, they were drawing these amazing self-portraits, you will not believe the before the seminar and after the seminar self-portraits.
You would say, these were talented people. That shift was amazing because they got the proper training and what it says is that you can’t predict from the before when you don’t have training to the after when you do have training. Again, yeah, capitalize on strengths, why not, of course. But don’t think your strengths are going to be strengths forever if you’re not working on them and growing them and don’t rule out weaknesses as future areas of strength, in the right circumstances with the right training.
[0:45:00.0] MB: Tell me a little bit about the power of words and what happens when for example, we tell a child that they’re smart?
[0:45:06.6] CD: That’s so interesting, we undertook this research at the height of the self-esteem movement, when everyone told tell each other, tell kids, tell your employees, tell everyone how brilliant they are at every opportunity and what we have found in this research is telling kids they’re smart, puts them into more of a fixed mindset. You’ve done something and someone says, oh my God, you’re brilliant at this.
Suddenly you think, everything I do has to be brilliant. Then if you have an opportunity to take on something challenging that you might fail at, in the presence of that person or even in the presence of your own judgement.
You think well, maybe not. Maybe I want to do something that keeps showing how smart I am. However, when you give feedback to people that focuses on that process, the process they engaged in, their hard work, they’re taking on challenges, they’re trying different strategies, their good use of resources, they’re being a great team member. If you focus on that process they engaged in to do well or have that good performance, they become more willing to go out of their comfort zone.
They become less thrown by setbacks because they feel like right, the process is what’s valued here. I can duplicate that process, I can engage in that process, I’m not under threat, I’m not under judgment. Now, of course, in a business or in school, you have to perform, ultimately but research has shown that when the more you engage effectively in that process of learning, the better you're going to do in the long run.
[0:47:03.3] MB: What’s one piece of homework that you would give to somebody listening to this episode in terms of kind of a simple first step that they could do to implement some of the things we’ve talked about?
[0:47:13.7] CD: Yes, I would say, the very first step is to find your fixed mindset triggers. You know, we used to talk about it as if they were fixed mindset people and growth mindset people, no. We all have fixed mindset triggers. Find those triggers. When do you start hearing that voice, when do you start feeling that anxiety or I don’t really want to do this, that kind of fake boredom or distaste.
Find those triggers. Start keying in to how you feel when that’s triggered, what you’re thinking, how you behave, how you affect others around you. First step, find those triggers. Second step, give them a name.
[0:48:03.9] MB: What would be a good example of a few common things that trigger the fixed mindset?
[0:48:10.3] CD: Yeah, there are a few very common things. First, you’re taking on a challenge or you're thinking of taking on a challenge or you’re out of your comfort zone, big trigger. Big time when people feel threatened and the warning voice starts talking, that persona starts talking.
Second, you’re struggling, you’re not making progress, that’s often a trigger that says get out of there or you don’t like this, instead of find resources, get help, try new strategies. As we’ve been saying, the big trigger, setback, criticism, failure. Nope, what you did wasn’t perfect, it wasn’t right, maybe it wasn’t even good, big trigger.
[0:49:08.1] MB: For listeners who want to learn more, where can people find you and find Mindset online?
[0:49:13.7] CD: Well, my book, Mindset actually an updated addition is coming out this week and is not a completely new addition but we’ve added some important things about the persona work, our work in business organizations, common misunderstandings of a growth mindset. The book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, we have a website. Mindsetonline.com.
[0:49:52.7] MB: Well Carol, thank you so much for coming on the show and sharing your incredible wisdom. As I said, to me personally, Mindset is one of the most impactful books that I’ve ever read. I would highly recommend everybody listening, go read that book, get the new updated edition.
I’m a tremendous fan and so thank you so much for coming on here and sharing these insights with us.
[0:50:13.0] CD: You’re welcome. Pleasure.
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