Mindset: The Effort Effect

Mindset: The New Psychology of Success Last month, Guy Kawasaki wrote about Carol Dweck, a psychology professor at Stanford. In the Stanford Magazine article by Marina Krakovsky, “The Effort Effect“, Dweck explores why “a really capable child [gives] up in the face of failure, [while] other children [are] motivated by the failure.”

Her field studies in learned helplessness and attribution theory led her to launch a new field of educational psychology: achievement goal theory.

In short, there are people who believe they have a fixed mental capacity (known as a “fixed mindset”) and there are people who believe they can always learn new things (known as a “growth mindset”). A person with a fixed mindset, even highly capable ones who are already highly intelligent, don’t try as hard as those with a growth mindset and therefore don’t excel as well. Dweck’s new book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, goes into more detail about these conclusions and offers parenting tips as well, since her field studies were conducted mostly on elementary school children.

Guy, useful as ever, cites some of Dweck’s tips and adds the word “employee” to show how they are relevant to business and management:

Listen to what you say to your kids [employees], with an ear toward the messages you’re sending about mind-set.

Instead of praising children’s [employee’s] intelligence or talent, focus on the processes they used.

Example: “That homework was so long and involved. I really admire the way you concentrated and finished it.”
Example: “That picture has so many beautiful colors. Tell me about them.”
Example: “You put so much thought into that essay. It really makes me think about Shakespeare in a new way.”

When your child [employee] messes up, give constructive criticism—feedback that helps the child [employee] understand how to fix the problem, rather than labeling or excusing the child.

Pay attention to the goals you set for your children [employees]; having innate talent is not a goal, but expanding skills and knowledge is.

Don’t worry about praising your children [employees] for their inherent goodness, though. It’s important for children [employees] to learn they’re basically good and that their parents love them unconditionally, Dweck says. “The problem arises when parents praise children [employees] in a way that makes them feel that they’re good and love-worthy only when they behave in particular ways that please the parents.

Author: Mike Lee

An idealistic realist, humanistic technologist & constant student.