Mindset: The New Psychology

By Carol S. Dweck, PhD (Random House, 2006)

If you typically enter the New Year with equal parts ambition to try new endeavors and a paralyzing fear of failing, Mindset could be just the motivating tool you need. According to author Carol Dweck, PhD, a Columbia University research psychologist, one of the main psychological obstacles to pursuing new experiences is a “fixed mindset” based on a false belief that we’re born with certain talents and flaws that make our efforts mostly futile. But Dweck’s research has shown that some people see new experiences as a challenge, and they happily learn new skills, even when they initially struggle. This isn’t just natural optimism — she calls it a “growth mindset,” and her book offers inspiring anecdotes that show it in action, from the classroom to the boardroom. Turns out that seemingly natural traits like intelligence and athleticism are readily cultivated through effort, as is the supportive-growth mindset that makes them possible. Dweck’s skill-building exercises include ego-stretchers that prioritize learning over instant success. A great resource for perfectionists looking for a little breathing room, as well as for educators, coaches or anyone else in a position to help foster growth in others.