My new favorite book is Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, How We Can Learn to Fulfill Potential, written by Dr. Carol Dweck in 2006. I've only said that a book was my 'favorite book' 2 other times (The Fountainhead and The Poisonwood Bible). But yes, now it's Mindset. Mindset is my new favorite book.
|doesn't Dr. Dweck seem nice?|
Generally speaking, there are two types of people who could really benefit from this book:
- People who feel like they haven't/aren't living up to their full potential (ie. people who aren't Steve Jobs. Man, that guy really had his stuff together.)
There are a great many compelling stories in this book. Here's one of them:
There was this math grad student at Berkeley named George Danzig who was always late to class. On one such day he rushed into class and saw 2 homework problems written on the chalkboard. He quickly jotted them down. Later, when he sat down to do these homework problems, he was taken aback at how difficult they were. It took him several days of hard work to crack them open and solve them.
The thing is though...these 2 math problems turned out not to have been that week's homework, but rather, they were 2 super famous math problems that had never been solved. Our boy George decided to dig in and get in there, regardless of the fact that he felt overwhelmed.
Here is the main idea that Dr. Dweck crystalizes for her readers with research, anecdotes and experimental findings:
- Effort is KING! Important achievements require a clear focus and all-out effort. To be good at X, you need to learn techniques and skills and practice them regularly. The best pilots fly more than the others; that's why they're the best. No matter what your ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.
Dr. Dweck points to a few children who seem to be born with heightened talents and obsessive interests, and who, through relentless pursuit of said interests, become amazingly accomplished. So, it's not really that these children were gifted naturals, they just became awesome at X thing because they were obsessed with it and did it all the time.
Babies are the perfect example of the growth mindset – they never decide that learning to walk and talk isn't worth the effort and humiliation. They fall, they get up and and barge forward.
These ideas remind me of a recent episode of Jerry Seinfeld's internet TV show Comedians In Cars Getting Coffee. The one where the other comedian is Chris Rock-