The One Sentence Summary

Changing the way you think can enable you to fulfil your potential.

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  • The author is a world-renowned Stanford University psychologist who invented the concepts of mindset and psychological safety.
  • The book is updated from the 2006 original with new material.
  • The essence of the theory is that it is not just our abilities and talent that bring us success, but whether we approach our goals with a fixed or growth mindset. With the right mindset, we can motivate others and ourselves in both a personal and professional context. This is what all great parents, teachers, CEOs and athletes now know – that the brain can foster learning and nurture the resilience that is the basis of accomplishment in every area.
  • Fixed mindset: believes that intelligence is static. This leads to a desire to look smart and therefore a tendency to avoid challenges, get defensive or give up easily, see effort as fruitless or worse, ignore useful negative feedback and feel threatened by the success of others. As a result they may plateau early and achieve less than their full potential.
  • Growth mindset: believes intelligence can be developed. This leads to a desire to learn and therefore a tendency to embrace challenges, persist in the face of setbacks, see effort as the path to mastery, learn from criticism and find lessons and inspiration in the success of others. As a result, they reach ever-higher levels of achievement.
  • A central question here is whether success is about learning or simply proving that you are smart. Those who choose the second route spend an undue amount of time proving that they are clever or just plain right, but they rarely improve their skills because they have a fixed mindset.
  • Mindsets change the meaning of failure and effort. Those with a growth mindset regard so-called ‘failure’ as an opportunity to learn and improve, and don’t mind putting in the effort to make further progress.
  • Groupthink was a term popularized by Irving Janis in the 1970s. It refers to situations in which nobody disagrees or takes a critical stance. This often occurs when people put unlimited faith in an apparently talented leader, and it often leads to catastrophic decisions.
  • Research shows that people are terrible at estimating their abilities, but it is those with the fixed mindset that account for most of the inaccuracy. Those with a growth mindset are amazingly accurate, because they understand their limitations.
  • CEO disease describes leaders who reign from on top of a pedestal and want to be seen as perfect. There are many examples of these. They rarely confront their shortcomings and instead create a world in which they apparently have none.


  • An old saying that sums up the growth mindset is that Becoming is better than Being.
  • Just because some people can do something with little or no training, it doesn’t mean that others can’t do it, and sometimes they can do it even better.
  • Praise and positive labels can be dangerous. So-called ability-praised students tend to lie about their scores in tests because in the fixed mindset imperfections are deemed to be shameful. People labelled as talented don’t like to reveal any imperfections.
  • On the other hand, a growth mindset helps people to see prejudice or criticism for what it is – someone else’s view of them. They can then confront it with their confidence and abilities intact, rather than getting depressed, giving up, or failing to make any further progress.
  • Malcom Gladwell concluded that when people live in an environment that esteems them for their innate talent, they have grave difficulty when their image is threatened. They will not take the remedial course and they won’t admit they are wrong. In fact, they’d sooner lie.
  • Jim Collins talks of such leaders as being typically concerned with their reputation for personal greatness, so much so that they often set the company up for failure when their regime ends. After all, what better testament to your own personal greatness than that the place falls apart after you leave?


  • If you are new to this theory, then the concept remains very helpful. Others may have heard most of it before, and the case histories can be somewhat lengthy for the points they are making.