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Carol S. Dweck, Ph. D. basically climbs the mountain of potential and pokes her flag in the top through her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Published by Ballentine in 2006, Mindset boasts one million copies in print. The cover tells us that we can all learn to fulfill our potential in parenting, business, school, and relationships.
Since this book was part of our school’s book study this summer, my copy found its way between all the Jill Conner Browne’s Sweet Potato Queens books I took on my beach vacay. Right after I reread Browne’s Fat Is the New Thirty: The Sweet Potato Queen’s Guide to Coping with (the Crappy Parts of) Life, I accidently dropped Mindset into the ocean. In my defense, a rogue wave dumped my beach chair.
While I was waiting for the book to dry out a little, I took a run/shuffle down the beach listening to Britney’s song Work Work, the clean version of what she sang on the MTV Music Awards. When I returned, I shook the sand out of Mindset, and freed an errant sand flea, trapped in Chapter 4, titled ironically “Sports: the Mindset of a Champion.”
From the moment I settled myself in my damp chair to read, I realized that Britney just had to have read this book before the 2013 release of her pumping jam. Here are six reasons this must be so.
Success Is About Work, Not Ability
Britney never mentions ability in her song. Ever. Dweck discusses the dangers of harping on ability and that defense of talent can lead to a fixed mindset. When we tell our children, athletes, writers, artists, musicians, and business people that they have “talents” and “gifts,” these compliments often stymie growth when challenges and competition threaten to topple these prodigies off their pedestals.
According to Dweck, a fixed mindset tells us that it is far more glamorous to be naturally talented than honestly hardworking. A fixed mindset can trap us into defending our talents to the point that we are afraid we may find our abilities lacking if we actually try. On the other hand, a growth mindset tells us that hard work is worth the risk and always results in improvement. Hence, Britney’s sage advice.
Most Successful People Screwed Up Royally First
Dweck outlines the initial struggles of great successes like artist Jackson Pollock and basketball player Michael Jordan. Even Mozart wrote some trite stuff initially. What set all these successes apart was an absolute refusal to give up. Despite the pain inherent in the statement, “I gave it my all and it still wasn’t good enough,” many wildly successful growth mindset practitioners take the risk anyway. Lord knows, our friend Britney has had her share of difficulty.
Leaders Work Alongside Their People
Dweck notes that growth mindset leaders do NOT place themselves above their employees, and they don’t take credit for others’ accomplishments. Instead of undermining, these leaders look to grow by examining past mistakes and analyzing what the company will need to be successful in the future. In short, these successful leaders don’t live in a fantasy world touting their own talent above all else. They know success is gritty, not magical. Britney says, “You wanna live fancy? Live in a big mansion? Party in France? You better work!”
Anyone Can Apparently Bust a Rhyme
Inner city elementary school students can read and enjoy Shakespeare, according to Dweck. It’s all in presentation. Teachers need to stop asking if these kids can learn and ask how do these kids learn best? My fourth graders love big books, but I can’t see them getting too pumped over Jane Eyre as Dweck reported some students had. I will apologize for my fixed mindset ahead of time, but I’ll stick to Judy Blume, James Riley, and Christopher Paul Curtis, thank you very much. That said, Britney rhymed “body,” “Bugatti,” and “Maserati” in some sort of –ameter I can’t quite identify. I guess I’d better get to work.
Sweat for Success. Literally
After reading Mindset and listening to Britney during my wobble down the beach, I can no longer blame 43 and two children for the effects of Oreos and biscuits to my posterior. Both Dweck and Spears emphasize that I can change my habits with a growth mindset. I have to come up with a strategy that works, plan for challenges, and learn from setbacks. Britney says I can have all this and a fancy ride to boot, “You want a hot body? You want a Bugatti? You want a Maserati? You better work!”
“Work It Hard Like It’s Your Profession”
At least that’s what Britney says. Dweck tells the story of Anne Mulcahy, who took over Xerox in 2000 when the company found itself plunging into oblivion. Mulcahy spent hours poring over debt, inventory, taxes, and currency. She worked night and day for two years only to see herself in a Time magazine article grouped with leaders responsible for the biggest company breakdowns of all time. This is where Britney’s helpful comments, “No time to quit now, just time to get it now,” come in. Mulcahy kept slogging away until Xerox finally bobbed to the surface, and big business schools in America use her strategies to train their students. When it comes to this growth mindset thing, we’re “picking up what they’re putting down.
In short, I’m glad Mindset didn’t float away in the Atlantic. Dweck and Spears forced me to root out and consider many of my own fixed mindsets. Instead of seeing the challenges my students may present this year, I can envision possibilities. While this book definitely doesn’t fit into the usual escapist, naughty reading many of us like to do as we loll around by the sea, this book could be fifty shades of life changing.