Book Review: Mindset The New Psychology of Success

I set a goal to read at least 30 books this year. Usually this is the only new year resolution that I am able to keep up with. I always take some notes from these books, and since I am happily went back to blogging, I am going also to write some posts about the books that I read.

The last book I read is called "Mindset, the new psychology of success". (No worries, no ref links).

Is an interesting book, with a lot of real life example and an interesting concept that isn't very new to the mind/self-development world. The book points at a lot of example from students, and it seems to point in that direction, but the main principle can be applied to every aspect of life.

According with Carol Dweck, author of the book, there are 2 types of mindset:

  1. The Fixed mindset - (No need to learn, people are born with talent, blaming everyone but yourself)
  2. The Growth Mindset - accept failure, keep learning, even when you are the number 1 in your field, take ownership about mistakes and failures.

It reminds me a little bit of the system 1 and system 2 from Kahneman masterpiece, thinking fast and slow,. I have to be honest, a lot of these books about brain and behaviours have recently taken a path similar to Kahneman's book, therefore they like to divide in 2 systems basically eveything :D

The fixed mindset believes that talent is a gift when you are born, that you don't need to learn anymore or you can't grow or learn more. It also believes that failure means you will never make it anymore. In a few words people with fixed mindset are not willing to "take the extra mile", for succededing. This gets reinforced in our subconscious by events and the environment on which we are living.

But, as the author points out, a lot of succesfull people have fixed mindset. She mentions a lot of times John McEnroe, one of the greatest tennist ever as a great example of fixed mindset. And a good example is the fact that he keep blaming everyone else, but not him, when he would lose a game or title. Having a fixed mindset will not stop you from being succesfull at what you want to be, but will stop you from growing and keeping up with your talent, like in this case.

The growth mindset learns from mistakes, forgives, takes away angers and then tries again, and usually succeed.

The fixed mindset sees new challenges that can't do it as something they don't want to do. The growth mindset sees this challenge as a new opportunities.

I liked this book, but I have the feeling that she does give too much importance to this concept to the point that she blames the entire Enron failure on the fact that the CEO had a fixed mindset. As well as saying that someone who won a huge amount of titles in his sport is, in fact, a loser. But she is right for example with Nokia and Yahoo, where a fixed mindset like: "we are the top maker, we do not have to worry about competitors" brought both companies to failure.

But is the controversial of this part that also attracted me to read it. Is a quite short book, on my IPad is about 340 pages in portrait mode (I always read in portrait mode), but a lot of the example she brings on are pretty good and probably the main take for the entire book is really to challenge your thoughts when fiding yourself reading about some examples of fixed mindset that relates to you.

I think the greatest example, in my field of work, of these types of mindset is Microsoft.

They moved from a CEO with a fixed mindset like Ballmer, whose fixed thinking like "Linux is a cancer" brought Microsoft to be basically the most hated company in the IT world and, despite his undoubted financial success, also a huge amount of failures that we all know. From browsers to Operating Systems and mobile phones.

They then hired a new CEO, Nadella, who is clearly someone with a growth mindset. He accepted and admitted the failure, and learned from them. Microsoft got involved in many open source projects, bought github (and gave us free private repo's), he saw the future of the company in the cloud, as he knew they had lost the phone/mobile battle.

In the end, today in the IT world Mr. Nadella is probably more liked and respected, as a person and brand, than the creator of Linux.

In the meanwhile Microsoft has doubled their shares but also their fans in the IT world, which is what really matters for them.

Another example of fixed mindset is Mark Zuckerberg and Facebook. Despite their huge growth, Facebook is in a clear decline, like Microsoft was years ago, but with the difference that their core business is not varied like Microsoft, it is solely based on one thing: user data.

Despite everything that happened to his platform, including a live streamed terrorist attack and a possible political manipulation and spread of hate with fake news. The only think that Mr. Zuckeberg does is to "apologize" and while it gives signs that is going to change the situation, he does not. So yes, I think this is a clear fixed mindset and I can't see Facebook growing in the next years.

His company is profitable, they give freedom of speech and they cannot control 2 billion of users. He is a 30 YO extremely rich and important. He really does not need to grow anymore, so is his company. Her COO Sheryl Sandberg seems to be on the same line of him. They can justify what is happening, they do not need to grow.

What happened with the Instagram founders is also a sign of a fixed mindset(Zuckerberg) who completely went against a growth mindset (Instagram founders) to the point that they left the company abruptly, same for the Whatsapp founder who, btw, left some millions on the table rather than stay with Facebook anymore.

On the other side, Elon Musk is pretty much a growth mindset and we can see it. A millionaire who learned about rocket science and built a space company and self-driving electric cars.

Applying this mindset at work

The front end world is really a good example of a type of work where the fixed mindset is not only just wrong, but it will bring failures.

The so called Javascript fatigue is a example, and if you really want to keep up with front end, you will never have to stop learning. As an example, while writing this I learned aboud a new framework, Svelte, which seems to be the next react thing ;)

Wrong interviews, bugs in production, mistakes in general. These are good example where immediately challenge your thinking and move on to a growth Mindset. Do not blame other but yourself, fix the problem learn from the experience, and try again.

Those who work with a fixed mindset will blame the user, the browser, the compiler, webpack, the junior dev, whoever they can, for that bug in production. While the one with the growth mindset will be the ones who fix the bug, while his colleague is complaining about it.

Finally my vote for this book: Vote: 6.5 / 10

Not bad, not great either. Good insights, especially for students or entrepeneurs, and a lot of real example. If is your first book in the so-called self-development world, this might be a good start.