Mindset by Carol Dweck

Mindset by Carol Dweck

The Book in A Few Sentences

Mindset is about how our beliefs shape our perceptions and determine our success in life. With a fixed mindset, our potential is limited by the skills we were born with. With a growth mindset, our potential is limited only by our effort.

Mindset summary

Here is my book summary of Mindset by Carol Dweck. My summaries are casual and include what I believe are the most essential concepts, ideas and insights from the book, along with direct quotes from the author.

  • Changing our beliefs, even slightly, can have profound effects.
  • The growth mindset believes skills can be cultivated through effort. There is no failure, only learning.
  • The fixed mindset believes skills are carved in stone. There is only success and failure, and failure means you are not talented.
  • Our genes require outside stimulation (i.e. growth) to perform optimally.
  • Intelligence expert Robert Sternberg says that achieving expertise require “purposeful engagement.”
  • Our self-view determines whether or not we live up to our potential.
  • The fixed mindset means that every opportunity is a chance to look good or bad.
  • Looking good takes priority over learning and growing.
  • Stretching oneself and sticking with difficulty are hallmarks of the growth mindset.
  • People with the fixed mindset fear challenge and devalue effort.
  • Successful people are exceptional at identifying their strengths and weaknesses.
  • The fixed mindset is concerned with judgment; the growth mindset is concerned with improving.
  • The fixed mindset is about validating yourself; the growth mindset is about developing yourself.
  • The fixed mindset keeps us from pursuing things we value and from fulfilling our potential..
  • In the fixed mindset, effort means you are not talented.
  • In the growth mindset, effort makes you talented.
  • Benjamin Barber divides the world into learners and nonlearners.
  • When things get harder, the fixed mindset loses enjoyment and motivation and quits early.
  • The harder things get, the more motivated the growth mindset becomes.
  • The fixed mindset is about immediate perfection; the growth mindset is about confronting challenges and learning and progressing over time.
  • The fixed mindset takes the short view opting for success over growth. The goal is to be better than others and to feel special. Success means you are somebody, and failure means you are nobody.
  • The fixed mindset is when an action (I failed) is transformed into an identity (I am a failure).
  • The fixed mindset assigns blame and makes excuses for failure and is more prone to depression.
  • The growth mindset takes the long view, and the more depressed they feel, the more action they take to solve their problems and resolve their depression.
  • People with the fixed mindset tend to say things like, “If you have to work at something, you must not be good at it.” Or “Things come easily to people who are true geniuses.”
  • In our culture, we tend to value natural, effortless achievement over accomplishment through effort.
  • Research shows that the idea of “effortless perfection” contributes to anxiety and depression.
  • Trying and failing is the worst fear for the fixed mindset.
  • A reformed “fixed mind setter” commented, “You have to work hardest for the things you love most…you’re in the fight of your life.”
  • In the fixed mindset, failure means wasted effort. But in the growth mindset, effort means you learned something.
  • When someone with the fixed mindset fails, the more effort they put in, the more they feel like a failure because more effort means less natural talent.
  • Myths abound about geniuses. Yet Edison had a team of thirty assistants; Darwin’s masterwork, The Origin of Species, took years of teamwork; and Mozart labored over ten years before producing beautiful pieces.
  • When students who are praised for success encounter difficulty, future performance suffers.
  • When students who are praised for effort encounter difficulty, they apply even more effort.
  • Telling children they are intelligent makes them feel dumber and act dumber while claiming to be smarter. It harms their performance and motivation.
  • “Some people don’t want to rehearse; they just want to perform.” - John McEnroe
  • You don’t know whether or not you are good at something until you’ve put in a lot of effort.
  • Controlling and abusive bosses put everyone into a fixed mindset for fear of being judged.
  • “I believe…that everyone, of whatever age and circumstance, is capable of self-transformation.” - Warren Bennis
  • People can be independent thinkers and team players at the same time.
  • In studies on relationships, the number one goal of people with the growth mindset is forgiveness.
  • People with the fixed mindset who are in relationship expect everything good to happen without effort; everything should come naturally if you’re compatible.
  • All relationship experts disagree with this statement.
  • The fixed mindset not only blames their partner, but they assign blame to a trait—a character flaw. This causes them to feel anger and disgust toward their partner.
  • “Choosing a partner is choosing a set of problems…The trick is to acknowledge each other’s limitations, and build from there.” - Daniel Wile
  • In relationship, we can only control our half.
  • The growth mindset in relationship looks beyond blame to understand the challenges and work on it—together.
  • “To me the whole point of marriage is to encourage your partner’s development and have them encourage yours.”
  • People with the fixed mindset tend to be more self-conscious, anxious and fearful of judgment and more shy.
  • The fixed mindset tends to take bullying personally while the growth mindset sees it as a reflection of the psychological issues of the bully.
  • Parents tend to think praising brains and talent will permanently raise a child’s self-confidence. But it has the opposite effect: “it makes children doubt themselves as soon as anything is hard or anything goes wrong.”
  • The best thing you can do for children: teach them to “love challenges, be intrigued by mistakes, enjoy effort, and keep on learning.” This gives kids a way to “build and repair their own confidence.”
  • Praise for innate abilities like intelligence or talent is harmful; praise for growth-oriented process like practice, study, persistence, and good strategies is helpful.
  • Kids get the message: Skills come through commitment and effort.
  • Kids with the fixed mindset regularly complain of judgment from their parents.
  • “Those with the fixed mindset feel their parents won’t love and respect them unless they fulfill their parents’ aspirations for them.”
  • Raising self-esteem by lowering standards to help kids succeed doesn’t work.
  • “When parents help their children construct growth-minded ideals, they are giving them something they can strive for. They are also giving their children growing room, room to grow into the full human beings who will make their contribution to society in a way that excites them.”
  • “You have to apply yourself each day to becoming a little better. By applying yourself to the task of becoming a little better each and every day over a period of time, you will become a lot better.” - John Wooden
  • Success can put you into a fixed mindset: “I’m talented, so I will keep winning.”
  • “The growth mindset is based on the belief in change.”
  • Our difficulties are often caused by our beliefs.
  • Cognitive therapy, one of the most effective therapies ever developed, can help us change our beliefs.
  • Our mindset frames our perception of reality.
  • When we criticize ourselves, cognitive therapy calls us to look more closely at the facts and ask, “What is the evidence for and against my conclusion?”
  • Cognitive therapy helps us get past judgment to see things objectively, as they are.
  • The brain is like a muscle — the more we use it, the stronger it gets. Tiny connections in the brain multiply and strengthen.
  • Opening yourself to growth make you more yourself, not less.
  • Research shows that vows, no matter how intense, are useless. If you want to change, start today.
  • The more detailed plan you create — when, where, and how — the more likely you are to do something.
  • Many people with the fixed mindset believe the world should change, not them. Because they are special, the world owes them a better house, job, and spouse.
  • The more you focus on growth, the more people will want to help you.
  • Once we see positive change, we tend to stop doing the thing that helped us change. We must keep doing the things that helped us grow in the first place.

Related Resources

Here is a list of resources, including authors, books, websites, podcasts and concepts mentioned in Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, which might be helpful for further learning.


  • Modern Ideas About Children by Alfred Binet
  • Extraordinary Minds by Howard Gardner
  • Good to Great by Jim Collins
  • Gifted Children by Ellen Winner
  • Drawing on the right side of the brain by Betty Edwards
  • The Creative Habit by Twyla Tharp
  • High Flyers by Morgan McCall
  • Brutal Bosses by Harvey Hornstein
  • Emotional Intelligence by Daniel Goleman


  • Gilbert Gottlieb
  • Robert Sternberg
  • Benjamin Barber, sociologist
  • Marina Semyonova
  • Joseph Marrocchio
  • Jennifer Pals and Richard Robins
  • John Holt, educator
  • Benjamin Bloom, educational researcher
  • Falko Rheinberg, researcher
  • Irving Janis
  • Robert Wood
  • Peter Heslin, Don VandeWalle, and Gary Latham, researchers
  • Warren Bennis
  • John Zenger and Joseph Folkman
  • Benjamin Bloom
  • Elayne Savage
  • Raymond Knee
  • Daniel Wile, relationship expert
  • Shery Levy
  • Jennifer Beer
  • Scott Wetzler, therapist and professor of psychiatry
  • Stan Davis, therapist
  • Dan Owleus, researcher
  • Haim Ginott, renowned child psychologist
  • Aaron Beck, psychiatrist
  • Karen Horney and Carl Rogers
  • Peter Gollwitzer, researcher
Thanks for reading.  You can get more insights into the self-limiting beliefs that rob us of joy and create needless suffering in my email newsletter. Each week, I share a popular book summary or an in-depth article with practical ideas on personal freedom and showing up as yourself with courage, curiosity, and self-compassion.
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