The actual motivation behind starting to read and deep dive into this book was nothing else but a form of desire coming from my inner self of creating a more conscious way of handling feelings, interactions and life-related questions. When being faced with constant challenges throughout my lifetime, I noticed similar patterns that didn’t stop from happening and since, I got sick and tired of repeating mistakes and blaming only external factors for certain dissatisfactions. I stopped for a second and reflected upon my path and behaviors. In more concrete words, there is a lot more to be taken into consideration when you become bias against something, so that is why I tend, when it happens, to put the blame on anything else but not my misbehavior or my altered subjective conception.
In Mindset, Dweck argues enchantingly that only approaching everything and everyone with a generous growth mindset, that could generate the desired outcome of one’s view. And yet, due to generally widespread practice and science, we often assume almost the contrary – with people surrounding us and life-changing consequences for ourselves. Why the shift is essential? Because assuming that abilities and qualities are fixed makes every bad experience or failure an unpleasant reminder of our inadequate approach. The result? Fixed mindsets ruin progress. Not necessarily do people with fixed mindsets avoid taking and facing risks, but they also give up prematurely on themselves, and on others – at work, at university, at home or even regarding emotional relationships.
But when we strongly believe that abilities and traits are worth training, that we can constantly change and improve, we surely change our mindset. Challenges become learning opportunities. Set-backs create barriers we can either push, test or improve. A growth mindset not only makes growing possible, but it does make failure exciting.
The most critical of all is becoming fully aware that our mindsets influence everyone that surrounds us – in our process of learning, in our method of teaching, in how we are perceiving others and even how we love. For example, praising children or employees for their cleverness – an inner quality – instead of their grit or dedication that they show throughout your interaction with them – qualities that emphasize the willingness to grow – encourages fixed mindsets that significantly set boundaries on their ability to grow. The same works for praising musicians and athletes for their talent. Or for the high expectations that we virtually set for ourselves and for our beloved at home.
To show similarities between the topics that “Mindset” and “Grit” by Angela Duckworth approach, I will introduce this book a little with its most highlighted and debated subjects. It is basically a blend of what makes successful people what they are. The main asset is on creating a balanced mix of persistence and passion but being able to maintain it at a relatively high level for long periods of time. It is like having the ambition of constantly earning satisfaction from the initial goal that you set and enjoy the journey that you are facing towards the target. Imagine how the world would look like if everyone had the determination of striving for success in the worst times or when everything seems so blurry and unclear. This is basically the definition of gritty people who choose the bumpiest way no matter the consequences that follow after.
In Duckworth’s point of view, the main reason an activity with talent can be dangerous is pretty intuitive: By focusing our energy on talent, we are at risk with making everything else fade away. We accidentally trick ourselves and mislead us into thinking that these other concepts – including grit – are not as significant as they really are. In an article of top-ranked swimmers called: “The Mundanity of Excellence”, Dan Chambliss tries to emphasize that the most perplexing achievements touched by the human body are in fact a combination of multiple individual elements that mix in a unique balance which are in fact ordinary. Great things can be accomplished only by the people who always concentrate on one goal, enthusiastically chase and analyze themselves as well as the others around while being aware of their inner values when having to deal with unknown situations. Another asset of this kind of people is that in whichever environment they find themselves at a certain point in life, they perceive models and new boundaries to be broken.
There are a lot of findings that I gained from “Mindset” and lots of teachings sprinkled between the lines, but among the top-listed ones suitable for my current phase of development in life is the concept of a flexible mindset. Looking back at my childhood and my years as a teenager, I used to guide my actions and my life a lot depending on the perspective that other people had on me. By being used to let – the social pressure, the false impressions of what actually makes me feel happy and the perception that the loved ones had on my development – influence me, I kind of shifted from the path I wanted to follow. After reading this book I noticed that the experiences I’ve had throughout my lifetime represented exactly the fixed mindset, the concept that successful people eventually got rid of.
After a detailed re-evaluation of myself, struggling to find answers to the hardest questions of my life, this book came almost as a salvation. Suddenly the watershed I was stuck in turned out not to be as concerning as it seemed, but this is only because I started thinking constructively towards the next steps I should take. As I was reading, the quote which said that: “Your qualities are not carved in stone” started to become more and more relatable to my current state of consciousness