Book review: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success
By Dr. Carol S. Dweck, New York: Ballantine Books, 2006
This is one of those books that knocks a hole in your head and then fills it up with startling knowledge.
Dweck wrote this rather chatty book about a very serious subject: the mindset that influences much of your life, and can literally play a critical role in your success or failure at work, at school, among your friends and at home with your family.
Here’s a simplistic summary of her findings based on years of teaching and research:
There is a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. A mindset is a frame of mind that enables you to interpret what’s happening in the world around you, and to determine how you will feel about it, and how you will act and react.
I’ll take a stab at briefly defining the two mindsets in my own words.
Fixed mindset—you interpret most everything that happens to you in terms of whether it validates your static view of your own abilities and self-worth, in other words, you see the events and people in your life as confirming that you are talented and wonderful, or proving that you’re stupid and worthless. You can’t change, and you’ve got to grab what you deserve.
Growth mindset—you interpret most everything that happens to you in terms of feedback about your motivation and your performance, in other words, you see the events and people in your life as part of your continuous quest to learn and achieve your goals and enjoy your relationships with others. You can change, and you can learn to do better.
Of course, it’s possible to have different mindsets in different circumstances, and it’s possible to have some mix of the mindsets.
Dweck says you can learn to have a more effective growth mindset, and you can teach others, kids and adults, to embrace a more effective growth mindset.
We can always learn, we can always build up our talents, we can always get smarter, and we can help ourselves to have more enjoyable lives.
This all makes sense to me.
I don’t think I learned everything Dweck can teach me, so I’m going to read the book again.
Full disclosure: I’m not a Parrothead,
but I’m related by blood and marriage to gen-you-wine Buffett fans, so I take
the liberty of using familiar language, even though “the king of somewhere hot”
has never seen me and isn’t likely to in this earthly paradise….
A Pirate Looks at Fifty is a memoir-ish book by Himself,
written almost 20 years ago, I spotted it in the local library’s discarded book
sale bin and I did the right thing.
Seems to me, for starters, no one
should ever discard a book full of Jimmy Buffett stuff, he’s just so much in
love with life and he is a magnet for vicarious attention, I dare you to read Pirate without
getting at least a fleeting urge to head for the islands and see the world
through Jimmy’s eyes.
You don’t even have to read the whole
book (I confess, I didn’t), just read as much as gets the juices flowing and
then get on with your regular life, and you can dip into it again any time you
want. Buffett’s music and Buffett’s style are a buffet—grab what you want,
anytime, sing along as the spirit moves, and go back for more whenever….
You don’t even have to like margaritas
to get the full, slobbering, belly laugh, hijinksed, hot damn but mucho mellow
effect when you sing along with Jimmy about the
Mexican cutie and the lost shaker of salt.
I want to be fair. This is a novel
about dogged everything: determination, courage, loyalty, imagination,
I’m bound to say there’s little
excitement in Doig’s first novel. You’d think that death-defying action would
add a little bunny to one’s pulse, but I couldn’t point it out. There is a
relentless context that animates the characters in The Sea Runners, and swaddles all the environmental features of this
story of men against the sea. It’s based on an actual event in the northern
Pacific Ocean in the middle of the 19th century, so you know how it
Four Swedes escaped from a Russian work
camp and paddled in a stolen canoe for a couple months on the open ocean to
reach the American port of Astoria in Oregon. The story is more interesting
than that simple summary, but it merely informs….it does not soar.
I thought of myself as an Ivan Doig fan
when I began reading The Sea Runners,
and now I understand that I must be specific: I like This House of Sky and I like The
Bartender’s Tale, and such.
The emerald clarity of Doig’s stories
about the West is a world apart from the drudging redundancy of this book. The
character development is relentlessly obvious. It is also narrow and
repetitive. Despite his intentions, I’m sure, Doig doesn’t resist running his
characters through the same paces, over and over again.
Sea Runners isn’t a bad story. The
determination, courage, loyalty, imagination, strength and stubbornness are in
plain view, there’s never any doubt about that.
In fact, there’s no doubt about just
about everything in this story.
Nevertheless, Ivan, I love ya, man. I
love some of your stories.
Tribe: On Homecoming and
I just started reading
Junger’s new book, and I’m hot to pick it up again.
In his Introduction, the
Frost famously wrote that home is the place where, when you have to go there,
they have to take you in. The word ‘tribe’ is far harder to define, but a start
might be the people you feel compelled to share the last of your food with…
is about why [treating someone like a member of your tribe] is such a rare and
precious thing in modern society, and how the lack of it has affected us all.
It’s about what we can learn from tribal societies about loyalty and belonging
and the eternal human quest for meaning.”
It doesn’t take Junger long
to get right to the point, quoting from a 2012 journal article:
economic and marketing forces of modern society have engineered an
environment…that maximize[s] consumption at the long-term cost of well-being.
In effect, humans have dragged a body with a long hominid history into an
overfed, malnourished, sedentary, sunlight-deficient, sleep-deprived,
competitive, inequitable, and socially-isolating environment with dire
Now, if you read that last
sentence without saying some of the words right out loud, maybe twice, with
feeling and with some awareness of despair, well, maybe you should go for the
CliffsNotes version and save yourself some time.
Sebastian Junger, Tribe:
On Homecoming and Belonging, New York: Twelve/Hachette Book Group, 2016,