Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
One day, my students sat me down and ordered me to write this book. They wanted people to be able to use our work to make their lives better. It was something I’d wanted to do for a long time, but it became my number one priority.
My work is part of a tradition in psychology that shows the power of people’s beliefs. These may be beliefs we’re aware of or unaware of, but they strongly affect what we want and whether we succeed in getting it. This tradition also shows how changing people’s beliefs—even the simplest beliefs—can have profound effects.
In this book, you’ll learn how a simple belief about yourself—a belief we discovered in our research—guides a large part of your life. In fact, it permeates every part of your life. Much of what you think of as your personality actually grows out of this “mindset.” Much of what may be preventing you from fulfilling your potential grows out of it.
No book has ever explained this mindset and shown people how to make use of it in their lives. You’ll suddenly understand the greats—in the sciences and arts, in sports, and in business—and the would-have-beens. You’ll understand your mate, your boss, your friends, your kids. You’ll see how to unleash your potential—and your children’s.
It is my privilege to share my findings with you. Besides accounts of people from my research, I’ve filled each chapter with stories both ripped from the headlines and based on my own life and experience, so you can see the mindsets in action. (In most cases, names and personal information have been changed to preserve anonymity; in some cases, several people have been condensed into one to make a clearer point. A number of the exchanges are re-created from memory, and I have rendered them to the best of my ability.)
At the end of each chapter and throughout the last chapter, I show you ways to apply the lessons—ways to recognize the mindset that is guiding your life, to understand how it works, and to change it if you wish.
A little note about grammar. I know it and I love it, but I haven’t always followed it in this book. I start sentences with ands and buts. I end sentences with prepositions. I use the plural they in contexts that require the singular he or she. I’ve done this for informality and immediacy, and I hope that the sticklers will forgive me.
A little note on this updated edition. I felt it was important to add new information to some of the chapters. I added our new study on organizational mindsets to chapter 5 (Business). Yes, a whole organization can have a mindset! I added a new section on “false growth mindset” to chapter 7 (Parents, Teachers, and Coaches) after I learned about the many creative ways people were interpreting and implementing the growth mindset, not always accurately. And I added “The Journey to a (True) Growth Mindset” to chapter 8 (Changing Mindsets) because many people have asked for more information on how to take that journey. I hope these updates are helpful.
I’d like to take this chance to thank all of the people who made my research and this book possible. My students have made my research career a complete joy. I hope they’ve learned as much from me as I’ve learned from them. I’d also like to thank the organizations that supported our research: the William T. Grant Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, the National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Child Health and Human Development, the Spencer Foundation, and the Raikes Foundation.
The people at Random House have been the most encouraging team I could wish for: Webster Younce, Daniel Menaker, Tom Perry, and, most of all, Caroline Sutton and Jennifer Hershey, my editors. Your excitement about my book and your great suggestions have made all the difference. I thank my superb agent, Giles Anderson, as well as Heidi Grant for putting me in touch with him.
Thanks to all the people who gave me input and feedback, but special thanks to Polly Shulman, Richard Dweck, and Maryann Peshkin for their extensive and insightful comments. Finally, I thank my husband, David, for the love and enthusiasm that give my life an extra dimension. His support throughout this project was extraordinary.
My work has been about growth, and it has helped foster my own growth. It is my wish that it will do the same for you.
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