Tuesday, March 4, 2014

The Opposite of Success is not Failure








Fixed vs. Growth Mindsets


Today, Tom Asacker provides a nice discussion of why the opposite of success is not failure. Instead, failure leads to success because it gives us lessons, insights, and opportunities to change. With that new information, we are better positioned to succeed.  He suggests that failure leads to success in the same way that exercise leads to fitness.  

A second blogger today discussed the criteria Google uses to hire employees.  It looks for three things: cognitive processing and problem-solving on the fly; emergent leadership; and a sense of responsibility that leads to humility and ownership.  

Both posts reminded me of the book I read last month by Carol S. Dweck, a world-renowned Stanford psychologist, called: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success -- How We Can Learn to Fulfill Our Potential (2007).  

It describes two mindsets -- fixed and growth.

The publisher describes the theme of the book as this:

Dweck explains why it’s not just our abilities and talent that bring us success–but whether we approach them with a fixed or growth mindset. She makes clear why praising intelligence and ability doesn’t foster self-esteem [or] lead to [long-term] accomplishment.  [Instead,]. . .  it may actually jeopardize success. 
With the right mindset, we can motivate our kids and help them to raise their grades, as well as reach our own goals–personal and professional. Dweck reveals what all great parents, teachers, CEOs, and athletes already know: how a simple idea about the brain can create a love of learning and a resilience that is the basis of great accomplishment in every area.
For me, the book helped me understand why some of my students may struggle in law school, or why they did not have the LSAT scores and GPAs they needed to get into a better ranked law school. 

It may also explain why some of our students struggle to pass the bar exam.  I know we give them the substantive knowledge and skills they need to succeed.  But, perhaps even small failures seem devastating to their self-images and self-esteem.  Resiliency may be at the heart of the problem.   

The book also forced me to catch when I am not fully committed to a "growth" mindset -- either for myself or for my students.  It has changed the way I offer praise to others and talk to myself.  

I strongly recommend it -- especially to parents, teachers, and coaches. 

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