Mindset: Mastering the Iterative Tango

Book Review by Daniel-Jason Minzie (Q20)

An exploration of Dr. Carol Dweck’s book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, which centers on a simple idea that makes all the difference.

Iteration. That verb represents a key philosophy of the QUEST initiative; how can we improve a process, perfect a product, revolutionize an industry? Each step in the iterative tango leads to something bigger, better, and ultimately more efficient – we are all in the pursuit of absolute quality.

But every quest has its dangers. One of the most dangerous traps lying in wait, especially for those of us focused on success – current students, faculty, and alumni included – is the ever looming specter of doubt: a fear of failure. Sometimes, this fear is so ingrained that we are not consciously aware of it and are thus limited by its constraints. We step on one another’s toes, skip a few beats, and lose our rhythm because we focus more on the ruckus of the inner critic than the sweet tones of possibility.

What’s the solution you ask? The answer, according to Dr. Carol Dweck, is a simple one: the key is to exchange perspectives. The solution is adopting a new mindset – a growth mindset, rather than a fixed one.

Dr. Dweck defines a fixed mindset as a fundamental belief that intelligence (linguistic, logical/mathematical, visual/spatial, bodily/kinesthetic, music, interpersonal, and intrapersonal) is fixed upon birth and that success is the result of inherent talent. And in contrast, a growth mindset is defined as the fundamental belief that intelligence is fluid and subject to change with concentrated effort.

She suggests that in order to escape our comfort zones and adopt more realistic and practical views of the nature of success, it is crucial for us to change from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset; we must become fixed to grow.

Dr. Dweck has observed that society frequently regards “The Natural” as of greater inherent worth than the diligent, tireless worker: i.e. “The Try-Hard.” She believes it’s that very philosophy that lies at the heart of the fixed mindset. It is important to realize that regardless of initial aptitude at a particular skill, those at the upper echelon of performance are often the ones who have worked the hardest while grumbling the least. These high achievers have steadily developed the mental fortitude to withstand the many losses that they have unquestionably faced.

If you’re the type of person that thrives on success (and I know you are!), I would definitely suggest that you pick up Mindset: The New Psychology of Success for a read. The advice written in its pages is worth its weight in gold. Your mindset can be your most valuable asset or your greatest liability; what’s it for you?

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