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Book Freak #48: Develop a Mindset for Succeeding

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Short pieces of advice from books

Book Freak is a weekly newsletter with short pieces of advice from books. Subscribe here.

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Carol S. Dweck is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, has been elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences and the National Academy of Sciences, and has won nine lifetime achievement awards for her research. Here is advice from her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.

Teach your kids and yourself to love challenges
“Parents think they can hand children permanent confidence—like a gift—by praising their brains and talent. It doesn’t work, and in fact has the opposite effect. It makes children doubt themselves as soon as anything is hard or anything goes wrong. If parents want to give their children a gift, the best thing they can do is to teach their children to love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning. That way, their children don’t have to be slaves of praise. They will have a lifelong way to build and repair their own confidence.”

Focus on growth and outcomes will follow
“In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail—or if you’re not the best—it’s all been wasted. The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome. They’re tackling problems, charting new courses, working on important issues. Maybe they haven’t found the cure for cancer, but the search was deeply meaningful.”

Avoid blaming others
“John Wooden, the legendary basketball coach, says you aren’t a failure until you start to blame. What he means is that you can still be in the process of learning from your mistakes until you deny them.”

Reframe the guilt of screwups as opportunities to learn
“Is there something in your past that you think measured you? A test score? A dishonest or callous action? Being fired from a job? Being rejected? Focus on that thing. Feel all the emotions that go with it. Now put it in a growth-mindset perspective. Look honestly at your role in it, but understand that it doesn’t define your intelligence or personality. Instead, ask: What did I (or can I ) learn from that experience? How can I use it as a basis for growth? Carry that with you instead.”

Book Freak is one of our five newsletters from Cool Tools Lab (our other four are the Cool Tools Newsletter, Recomendo, Gareth’s Tips, Tools, and Shop Talesand What’s in my bag?).

-- Mark Frauenfelder 08/26/20