Book Review: Mindset by Carol Dweck
The basic premise of this book is that, in all area of life, people can be divided into those who have a ‘fixed mindset’ or a ‘growth mindset’. The basic premises and the author’s research are explained in the first two chapters with the remainder of the book devoted to very readable examples of her theory in practise using public figures in the worlds of sport and business. She applies her theory to relationships, parenting and education. It has only a tiny section devoted to creativity but nonetheless the book helped me fathom out a possible answer to something that always puzzled me?
Why do some people stick rigidly to using published patterns or kits to make art or craft items and refuse to try original design?
One woman I know makes the most exquisite and complex cross stitch kits. Her skill levels are high. But she has no interest at all in trying to design even a simple piece of her own even though I believe she has the potential to win prizes in embroidery shows. She tells me she is not good at that. That she has no imagination. Yet, this same woman was persuaded by a close relative to make some embroidered blocks for a quilt and produced beautiful original and intricate designs. When it is suggested to her that she makes more she ignores all the evidence of what she can achieve and retreats to kits. She says they were different because it was for family and no-one was going to see them.
Don’t get me wrong. There is nothing wrong with kits. I design them myself for the African Fabric Shop. But still, I am puzzled as to why they are not used as a phase people go through to learn the more satisfying and exciting possibilities of original design, rather than the height of people’s achievements.
A Fixed mindset approach
Carol Dweck’s research showed that those with a ‘fixed mindset’
• viewed success as getting perfect results all the time and being good at something right off. • avoided challenge because that meant there was a high risk of failure
• took failure personally and believed that to have something not work out meant that they were stupid or had no aptitude or talent and that made them feel bad.
•. were not willing to practice their deficiencies away
If someone felt that way then a kit, with good instructions, offers a certain outcome with no risk of feeling that they were inept or had wasted good materials trying something that did not pan out.
Those with a ‘growth mindset’
• did not see a failure as a set back which defined them
•. saw it as an opportunity to grow.
• defined success as the fact that they were learning and improving not that they never got anything wrong.
• they liked to stretch themselves and would take a riskier option if it gave them a chance to grow.
The growth mindset is presented as the one which reads to greater and longer lasting success and satisfaction in all areas of life.
The research shows that these mindsets need not be fixed. People can be put in a growth mindset by the messages given to them by teachers or managers for example. Indeed the author engagingly talks about how her own mindset was changed and how she coped with the new challenge of writing in a popular way.( One which, in my assessment, she rose to with aplom). A person may have one mindset, say, about relationships, and another about creativity.
One challenge I took from my reading of this book was to apply it to the instructions I give in kits and the posts I put in this blog.
Can I provide within the product, both the information necessary for the purchaser to acquire the skills needed and also the encouragement for them to branch out and produce something other than a mere replica of my work? How can I help readers to develop a growth mindset so that they are freed to do what they never thought they could?
Do you use kits?
Do you agree with this analysis or are there other reasons you like to use kits?
Do you identify with one mindset over the other?