• Home

LEADERSHIP QUESTION

image of the title page
image of the title page

Copyright © 2015 by Jamie Holmes

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Crown Publishers, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Random House LLC, New York.

www.crownpublishing.com

CROWN is a registered trademark and the Crown colophon is a trademark of Penguin Random House LLC.

Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data

Holmes, Jamie.

    Nonsense : the power of not knowing / Jamie Holmes.—First Edition.

        pages cm

    1. Uncertainty.   2. Decision making.   3. Creative ability.   I. Title.

    BF463.U5H55 2015

    153.4—dc23

    2015007205

ISBN 9780385348379

eBook ISBN 9780385348386

Cover design by Christopher Brand

Cover illustration by Christopher Brand

v4.1_r1

a

To my loving parents,

Nancy Maull and Stephen Holmes

PROLOGUE


IN 1996, LONDONS City and Islington College organized a crash course in French for novices and below-average students. Paula, an earnest teenager wearing wire-rim glasses, had never spoken a word of the language before. Darminder, goateed and earringed, was not only new to French, but had also failed his Spanish General Certificate of Secondary Education (GCSE). Abdul had failed his German GCSE. Satvinder and Maria had each flunked their French GCSEs, and Emily’s French teacher was so unimpressed that she advised her to give up on the language entirely. Instead of abandoning all hope, however, the students had signed up for a unique opportunity. For five full days, they’d submit to the eccentric methodology of a linguist named Michel Thomas.

Gray-haired and wearing a blue blazer, Thomas radiated poise and grace. “I’m very pleased to meet you,” he told his new students, “and I’m looking forward to teaching you today, but under better physical conditions, because I don’t think that where you’re sitting is very comfortable. I would like you to feel comfortable, so we’re going to rearrange everything.” In a truck outside, Thomas had stashed some unexpected replacements for the standard classroom furniture: armchairs, pillows, coffee tables, plants, a rug, a fan, and even wicker folding screens. With a little effort, the students completely transformed the room. Plush high-backed armchairs formed a half oval, the blue curtains had been drawn, the lights dimmed, and the wicker screens enclosed the armchairs and lent the space an even cozier and more intimate feel.

There would be no desks, blackboards, paper, pens, or pencils. Thomas didn’t want the students to read or write anything. He didn’t want them to try to remember anything they studied either, or even review it at the end of the day. If, during class, they couldn’t remember something, he advised, it wasn’t their problem. It was his. Emily looked incredulous. Darminder and Abdul couldn’t contain their impish smiles. But none of the students could hide their genuine curiosity about the old man in front of them. Was he serious? Never try to remember anything taught in class?

“I want you to relax.”

This scene, Thomas’s methods, and the results of those five days appeared in a BBC documentary titled The Language Master. Margaret Thompson, head of the French department at the school, was tasked with evaluating Thomas’s results. At the end of the week, she watched as the students—many of whom had never uttered a word of French before—translated full sentences using advanced grammatical forms. Emily managed to interpret a phrase that would normally take years to tackle: “I would like to know if you want to go see it with me tonight.” Paula praised Thomas’s strong emphasis on calm and patience. The students felt, they said, as though they’d learned five years’ worth of French in only five days. Rather stunned by the outcome, Thompson bashfully deferred to their self-appraisal.

Michel Thomas knew how intimidating it can be to explore a new language. Students face new pronunciations for familiar letters, words with novel meanings, missing parts of speech, and odd grammatical structures. That’s why the City and Islington students, despite the relaxed atmosphere, still exhibited the signs of confusion: nervous laughter, embarrassed smiles, muttered apologies, stutters, hesitations, and perplexed glances. Learning a foreign language requires you to journey into unfamiliar terrain. Thomas referred to a new language as the “most alien thing” one can learn. To fend off these “alien” intrusions, the mind instinctively erects barricades, and the teacher’s first and often most difficult challenge is to help students pull these walls down. Thomas was able to transform the atmosphere in that City and Islington classroom from one of stressful apprehension to one of calm curiosity. He somehow instilled a greater open-mindedness in the students. Pupils who had habitually dismissed what they didn’t yet grasp suddenly became more likely to venture out into the unknown.

At the time of the BBC documentary, which aired in 1997, Thomas was already legendary. He’d learned eleven languages, opened tutoring centers in Los Angeles and New York, and built something of a cult following thanks to a client list that included Grace Kelly, Bob Dylan, Alfred Hitchcock, Coca-Cola, Procter & Gamble, and American Express. Nigel Levy, who studied with Thomas before producing the BBC piece, characterized the lessons as “astonishing.” Emma Thompson described her time with him as “the most extraordinary learning experience of my life.” Israel’s former ambassador to the United Nations called him “a miracle worker.” And Herbert Morris, a former dean of humanities at UCLA, confided that he’d learned a year’s worth of Spanish in just a few days with Thomas and remembered it nine months later.

“The most important thing,” Thomas said, was to “eliminate all kinds of tension and anxiety” that are associated with learning. His attention to mood was peculiar, even downright radical. He’d often begin teaching French, for example, by telling his students that French and English share thousands of words. It’s only that they sound a little different. “English is French, badly pronounced,” he once joked. Words ending in -ible, like possible, and -able, like table, all originate from French words, he’d explain. Recasting the unknown as familiar, Thomas provided students, from the outset, with sturdy building blocks. His pupils grafted new knowledge onto existing knowledge, bit by bit, expressing their own thoughts and never reiterating rote phrases. Thomas taught for autonomy and rarely corrected his students directly.

By 2004, Thomas’s French, German, Italian, and Spanish instructional CDs and tapes—recordings of Thomas teaching each subject to two students—were the top-selling language courses in the United Kingdom. But Michel Thomas wasn’t merely a linguist. He was also a war hero. That same year, he was honored at the World War II Memorial in Washington, DC, where he received the Silver Star. He died in 2005 in New York City, as an American citizen, but he was born in the industrial city of Łódź, Poland, as Moniek Kroskof. He’d survived concentration camps, led troops, and worked as a spy and interrogator for the Allies, netting more than two thousand Nazi war criminals after the war. “Michel Thomas” was his fifth false identity and nom de guerre.

Thomas’s firsthand experience with totalitarian propaganda and his postwar undercover career are no mere biographical curiosities. His insights into the way our minds snap shut or unlock in the face of ambiguity—the central concern of this book—grew from his experiences in Germany. He had witnessed up close how Nazism had fostered a dismissive, even disdainful approach to uncertainty and moral complexity among its most fervent adherents. And he then spent decades developing methods to nurture a diametrically opposed attitude among language learners. Fifty years before the BBC documentary, in fact, Thomas tested his early ideas in an episode that eerily inverts his pedagogical demonstration at City and Islington.

image of the section break
image of the section break



IN 1946, RUDOLF Schelkmann—formerly a major in the intelligence service of Hitler’s SS—was hiding in Ulm, Germany, coordinating a loose network of loyalists hell-bent on reestablishing Nazi rule. That November, Schelkmann and three other former SS officers had been baited into meeting the purported commander of a more powerful and centralized underground neo-Nazi resistance. In reality, they were about to meet Moniek Kroskof, aka Michel Thomas, a Polish-born Jew and undercover agent of the US Army’s Counter Intelligence Corps (CIC).

Tasked with bringing war criminals to justice, Thomas was on a mission to identify and eventually dismantle Schelkmann’s network. Another CIC agent who went by the name of Hans Meyer had been carefully building a rapport with members of the network, but Schelkmann remained reticent. The former SS man had agreed to share contacts and operational details, but only after meeting face-to-face with Meyer’s commander. Thomas had to keep Schelkmann and his men from smelling a rat. Toward that end, he had meticulously arranged for the SS conspirators to be run through a tortuous routine in the hours leading up to the big meeting.

Earlier that night, the SS men had been waiting, on Meyer’s orders, in a “safe house” southwest of Ulm. Without warning, motorbikes arrived to pick them up. Thomas had deliberately waited for stormy weather; as the conspirators sat on the backs of the bikes, sharp winds pressed at the men’s rain-soaked clothes. Dropped off on a deserted road, the conspirators were blindfolded and hustled into two cars. In the darkness, they heard passwords exchanged as they navigated a series of staged security checks. They were pulled from the cars, marched blindly down a muddy path, and led through deep, icy puddles. They were kept waiting in an unheated corridor and were forbidden to speak. Still blindfolded, they listened to terse commands, scurrying footsteps, and doors opening and closing hurriedly. By the time Schelkmann and his men were finally led into a lodge hall and were allowed to see, it was past midnight.

Thomas—or Frundsberg to the SS men—greeted the conspirators from behind a large desk. Wearing civilian clothes except for a brown, military-style shirt, he’d been described to the Nazi loyalists as a former senior officer of the RSHA, an intelligence group once overseen by Himmler. Frundsberg’s hunting lodge, as the faux headquarters of the underground “Grossorganisation” resistance, was artfully embellished with portraits of Hitler and other Nazi bigwigs and decorated with grenades, machine guns, pistols, flame throwers, and sabotage kits. Stacks of cash sat in an open safe.

Thomas nodded curtly, sit, and the men sat. He studied a dossier of unknown contents in silence. Then he made his position clear to Schelkmann: he would not tolerate any splinter resistance groups. Military actions taken outside his command were acts of treason, plain and simple. With seemingly offhand gestures, Thomas belittled Schelkmann and his small group, taking frequent phone calls to emphasize his indifference to them. Subordinates came and went with apparently urgent communiqués. Flustered, the Nazi major now offered some of the details that Thomas was after: his background, the backgrounds of the other SS men in the room, the name of his network, its charter, methods, and structure, and how its members were recruited.

The CIC’s operation that night wasn’t flawless. Thomas’s elaborate fiction required roughly thirty people acting in concert, each with assigned scripts. Small mistakes and inconsistencies in the theatrical performance were inevitable. Counterintelligence operations turn on such minutiae—on whether the strange hesitation, bizarre response, or involuntary twitch is interpreted as sinister or benign. That’s why a certain Soviet spy, as the anthropologist Margaret Mead once noted, smoked a pipe. It immobilized his facial expressions. Buttons whose holes were sewn in a crisscross rather than a parallel pattern could reveal an agent’s nationality and destroy an otherwise perfect operation. In Egypt, a foreign agent was once discovered because of his giveaway stance at a public urinal. No detail is insignificant to the intelligence operative, as Thomas knew, and Schelkmann’s background in intelligence was formidable.

Schelkmann had two chances to unmask that night’s hoax. His first came when he asked to be appointed Thomas’s head of intelligence. “I had not anticipated this,” Thomas later told his biographer, Christopher Robbins. “I could hardly grant the man’s request without bringing him into the organization, which was obviously impossible. I pointed out the weakness in his operation, which in reality I was forced to admire.” Thomas not only had to feign the workings of a fake espionage conspiracy, but also had to disparage a well-managed spy network on cue. Schelkmann didn’t catch on and didn’t protest. The second make-or-break moment of the night—the most dangerous one, according to Thomas—was when Schelkmann unexpectedly asked for orders.

“Und was befehlen Sie uns jetzt zu tun?”

And what would you command us to do now? Thomas feared, as Robbins recounted it, that “his mask had momentarily slipped and that he had stepped out of character.” Yet again, the SS men didn’t notice. Thomas recovered, ordering the Germans to hold off on any pending operations and to prepare for an inspection. His performance was vulnerable twice. But Schelkmann had missed it both times. Here was the payoff of the gauntlet of blindfolds, switched vehicles, muddy marching, rain-soaked clothing, and humiliating treatment that the conspirators had been forced to endure: clues ignored, tells overlooked. The success of that night’s scheme didn’t depend on its perfect execution. On the contrary, Thomas knew there would inevitably be slip-ups that might reveal the charade and force him to arrest the Nazis immediately. His talent was to manipulate their mood and undermine their sense of control so that they would be less likely to notice such momentary stumbles.

Some months later, when Thomas left his work with the CIC in Germany for America, a new agent took over the task of roping in the diehard Nazi underground. Posing as Frundsberg’s deputy, this replacement arranged a meeting with Schelkmann and his men at a local beer hall. Wives and girlfriends were allowed. This time, when a tense moment came and the undercover agent seemed flustered, the German conspirators sensed that something was off. They questioned him aggressively. The panicking CIC agent pulled a gun, and the other CIC undercover officers tucked elsewhere at the bar—his backup—had no choice but to move in and arrest the men, netting far fewer of the group’s contacts than they’d hoped.

Schelkmann himself would serve twelve years in prison. When they were initially charged, he and his men vehemently denied the prosecution’s seemingly incomprehensible claim that Frundsberg, too, had been working for the Americans. Just as Thomas’s students opened their minds, the SS men had closed theirs.

image of the section break
image of the section break


THIS BOOK LOOKS at how we make sense of the world. It’s about what happens when we’re confused and the path forward isn’t obvious. Of course, most of the challenges of daily life are perfectly straightforward. When it’s snowing, we know to put on a jacket before venturing out. When the phone rings, we pick it up. A red stoplight means we should brake. At the other end of the spectrum, vast stores of knowledge completely confound most of us. Stare at Babylonian cuneiform or listen to particle physicists debate, and if you’re like me, your mind will draw a blank. We can’t be confused without some foothold in knowledge. Instead of feeling uneasy because we half understand, we’re as calmly certain in our ignorance as we are assured in our everyday rituals. This book examines the hazy middle ground between these two extremes, when
the information we need to make sense of an experience seems to be missing, too complex, or contradictory. It’s in these partially meaningful situations that ambiguity resides.

The mind state caused by ambiguity is called uncertainty, and it’s an emotional amplifier. It makes anxiety more agonizing, and pleasure especially enjoyable. The delight of crossword puzzles, for example, comes from pondering and resolving ambiguous clues. Detective stories, among the most successful literary genres of all time, concoct their suspense by sustaining uncertainty about hints and culprits. Mind-bending modern art, the multiplicities of poetry, Lewis Carroll’s riddles, Márquez’s magical realism, Kafka’s existential satire—ambiguity saturates our art forms and masterpieces, suggesting its deeply emotional nature. Goethe once said that “what we agree with leaves us inactive, but contradiction makes us productive.” So it is with ambiguity.

Tourism, science museums, and brainteasers testify to the extraordinary potential of ambiguity and mystery to captivate the imagination. But they also suggest just how tentative our relationship to perceived disorder can be. We like our uncertainty to be as carefully curated as a modern art exhibit. Most contexts in which we enjoy ambiguity are unthreatening, as when music flirts with dissonance or horror films toy with madness. When we face unclear experiences beyond these realms, we rarely feel so safe. Real-life uncertainties take the form of inexplicable events, indistinct intentions, or inconclusive financial or medical news. Maybe your spouse doesn’t get a job that he or she seemed exceptionally qualified for. Or perhaps you’re not feeling well, but the doctor’s diagnosis doesn’t explain all of your symptoms. Maybe you’re negotiating a business deal with someone you don’t quite trust. Or maybe you’re trying to work out a business plan in a rapidly shifting, highly competitive market. The key decision points in our lives—from choosing a college to deciding on a place to live—have always involved handling ambiguous information in high-stakes circumstances. Today, though, the world feels more overwhelming and chaotic than ever.


The paradox of modern life is that while technological acceleration—in transportation, communication, and production—should provide more free time, those same inventions increase our options at an exponential rate. Email was far faster than snail mail, but the Internet also brought Twitter, YouTube, and so on. As the German sociologist Hartmut Rosa described it, “no matter how much we increase the ‘pace of life,’ ” we cannot keep up with the deluge of information and options. The result is that “our share of the world” feels continually squeezed, even as we gain more efficient access to it. Estimates are that 90 percent of the world’s data has been created in the last five years. We’re all drowning in information, a reality that makes even the simplest decisions—where to eat, which health plan to sign up for, which coffee maker to buy—more fraught.

Meanwhile, we face the social anxieties of increasing inequality and an uncertain economic future as machines appear set to replace humans in many industries. Managing uncertainty is fast becoming an essential skill. The economist Noreena Hertz recently argued that one of today’s fundamental challenges is “disorder—a combination of the breakdown of old, established orders and the extremely unpredictable nature of our age.”

Automation and outsourcing will require tomorrow’s workers to be more innovative and creative. Success or failure, as Harvard economist Lawrence Katz recently put it, will hinge on one question: “How well do you deal with unstructured problems, and how well do you deal with new situations?” Jobs that can be “turned into an algorithm,” in his words, won’t be coming back. “What will be rewarded,” Katz told me, “are the abilities to pick up new skills [and] remain attuned to your environment and the capacity to discover creative solutions that move beyond the standard way of doing things.”

Just as workers today must learn to adapt to the unknown, tomorrow’s workforce has to prepare for it. Miguel Escotet, a social scientist and education professor, has framed the argument well. Schools should “educate for uncertainty,” he said, simply because for many students, “it is almost impossible to know what will happen by the time they will join the job market.” For Escotet, educating for uncertainty involves helping students be flexible, self-critical, curious, and risk-embracing—the very capacities that tend to disappear when anxiety gets the better of us. Similarly, entrepreneurs cannot innovate without the ability to dwell calmly among multiple unknowns. Being able to handle ambiguity and uncertainty isn’t a function of intelligence. In fact, as we’ll see, this ability has no relationship whatsoever to IQ. It is, however, an emotional challenge—a question of mind-set—and one we would all do well to master. Today’s puzzle is to figure out what to do—in our jobs, relationships, and everyday lives—when we have no idea what to do.

Scientific interest in ambiguity has exploded over the last decade. Much of that attention has focused on exploring a concept called the need for closure. Developed by a brilliant psychologist named Arie Kruglanski, a person’s need for closure measures a particular “desire for a definite answer on some topic, any answer as opposed to confusion and ambiguity.” Like Michel Thomas’s unorthodox teaching methods, Kruglanski’s concept—and indeed the modern psychological study of ambiguity—can be traced to an attempt to understand Nazism.

In 1938, a Nazi psychologist named Erich Jaensch published Der Gegentypus (The antitype), an odious text in which he described certainty as a sign of mental health. To Jaensch, the very tolerance of doubt was evidence of psychological illness. After the war, Else Frenkel-Brunswik, a psychologist at the University of California, introduced the concept of ambiguity intolerance. In one experiment, she showed subjects a progression of images, starting with a sketch of a dog. The images gradually morphed slide by slide into the image of a cat. Subjects intolerant of ambiguity—people who tended to see the world in rigid categories—would insist stubbornly that the image was still a dog. Neatly reversing Jaensch, Frenkel-Brunswik suggested that the intolerance of unclear information was what characterized the unhealthy mind.

Kruglanski would offer a more modest and somehow more disturbing proposal than Frenkel-Brunswik’s. He understood that humans have a need to resolve uncertainty and make sense of nonsense. It wouldn’t be very adaptive, he reasoned, if we had no mechanism pushing us to settle discrepancies and make decisions. Without some type of urge for resolution, we’d never get anything done. That’s the need for closure. But Kruglanski also suspected that our aversion to uncertainty isn’t static. What if, he wondered, extremism results when our thirst for clear answers goes into hyperdrive? What if Nazism was partly fueled by the dangerous pairing of a hateful ideology with its adherents’ inflated aversion to doubt?

That, in fact, is what Kruglanski and

LEADERSHIP QUESTION

CONTENTS

Introduction to the Paperback Edition ix Some Tips for First-Time Readers

xxi

PART I HOW OUR ACTIONS CREATE OUR REALITY . . . AND HOW WE CAN CHANGE IT

1 “Give Me a Lever Long Enough … and Single-Handed I Can Move the World” 3

2 Does Your Organization Have a Learning Disability? 17

3 Prisoners of the System, or Prisoners of Our Own Thinking? 27

PART II THE FIFTH DISCIPLINE: THE CORNERSTONE OF THE LEARNING ORGANIZATION

4 The Laws of the Fifth Discipline 57

5 A Shift of Mind 68

6 Nature’s Templates: Identifying the Patterns

That Control Events 93

7 The Principle of Leverage 114

127

8 The Art of Seeing the Forest and the Trees

PART III

THE CORE DISCIPLINES:

B U I L D I N

THE LEARNING ORGANIZATION

9 Personal Mastery

139

10 Mental Models

174

11 Shared Vision

205

12 Team Learning

233

PART IV

PROTOTYPES

13 Openness

273

14 Localness

287

15 A Manager’s Time

302

16 Ending the War Between Work and Family

306

17 Microworlds: The Technology of the Learning Organization 313

18 The Leader’s New Work

339

PART V

CODA

19 A Sixth Discipline?

363

20 Rewriting the Code

364

21 The Indivisible Whole

368

Appendix 1. The Learning Disciplines

373

Appendix 2. Systems Archetypes

378

Notes

391

Acknowledgments

411

Index

414

PART I

How Our Actions Create Our Reality.. and How We Can Change It

1

“GIVE ME A LEVER LONG ENOUGH.. .AND SINGLE-HANDED I CAN MOVE THE WORLD”

From a very early age, we are taught to break apart problems, to fragment the world. This apparently makes complex tasks and subjects more manageable, but we pay a hidden, enormous price. We can no longer see the consequences of our actions; we lose our intrinsic sense of connection to a larger whole. When we then try to “see the big picture,” we try to reassemble the fragments in our minds, to list and organize all the pieces. But, as physicist David Bohm says, the task is futile—similar to trying to reassemble the fragments of a broken mirror to see a true reflection. Thus, after a while we give up trying to see the whole altogether.

The tools and ideas presented in this book are for destroying the illusion that the world is created of separate, unrelated forces. When we give up this illusion—we can then build “learning organizations,” organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning how to learn together.

As Fortune magazine recently said, “Forget your tired old ideas about leadership. The most successful corporation of the 1990s will be something called a learning organization.” “The ability to learn faster than your competitors,” said Arie De Geus, head of planning for Royal Dutch/Shell, “may be the only sustainable competitive advantage.” As the world becomes more interconnected and business becomes more complex and dynamic, work must become more “learningful.” It is no longer sufficient to have one person learning for the organization, a Ford or a Sloan or a Watson. It’s just not possible any longer to “figure it out” from the top, and have everyone else following the orders of the “grand strategist.” The organizations that will truly excel in the future will be the organizations that discover how to tap people’s commitment and capacity to learn at all levels in an organization.

Learning organizations are possible because, deep down, we are all learners. No one has to teach an infant to learn. In fact, no one has to teach infants anything. They are intrinsically inquisitive, masterful learners who learn to walk, speak, and pretty much run their households all on their own. Learning organizations are possible because not only is it our nature to learn but we love to learn. Most of us at one time or another have been part of a great “team,” a group of people who functioned together in an extraordinary way— who trusted one another, who complemented each others’ strengths and compensated for each others’ limitations, who had common goals that were larger than individual goals, and who produced extraordinary results. I have met many people who have experienced this sort of profound teamwork—in sports, or in the performing arts, or in business. Many say that they have spent much of their life looking for that experience again. What they experienced was a learning organization.

The team that became great didn’t start off great—it learned how to produce extraordinary results.

One could argue that the entire global business community is learning to learn together, becoming a learning community. Whereas once many industries were dominated by a single, undisputed leader —one IBM, one Kodak, one Procter & Gamble, one Xerox—today industries, especially in manufacturing, have dozens of excellent companies. American and European corporations are pulled forward by the example of the Japanese; the Japanese, in turn, are pulled by the Koreans and Europeans. Dramatic improvements take place in corporations in Italy, Australia, Singapore—and quickly become influential around the world.

There is also another, in some ways deeper, movement toward learning organizations, part of the evolution of industrial society. Material affluence for the majority has gradually shifted people’s orientation toward work—from what Daniel Yankelovich called an “instrumental” view of work, where work was a means to an end, to a more “sacred” view, where people seek the “intrinsic” benefits of work.1 “Our grandfathers worked six days a week to earn what most of us now earn by Tuesday afternoon,” says Bill O’Brien, CEO of Hanover Insurance. “The ferment in management will continue until we build organizations that are more consistent with man’s higher aspirations beyond food, shelter and belonging.”

Moreover, many who share these values are now in leadership positions. I find a growing number of organizational leaders who, while still a minority, feel they are part of a profound evolution in the nature of work as a social institution. “Why can’t we do good works at work?” asked Edward Simon, president of Herman Miller, recently. “Business is the only institution that has a chance, as far as I can see, to fundamentally improve the injustice that exists in the world. But first, we will have to move through the barriers that are keeping us from being truly vision-led and capable of learning.”

Perhaps the most salient reason for building learning organizations is that we are only now starting to understand the capabilities such organizations must possess. For a long time, efforts to build learning organizations were like groping in the dark until the skills, areas of knowledge, and paths for development of such organizations became known. What fundamentally will distinguish learning organizations from traditional authoritarian “controlling organizations” will be the mastery of certain basic disciplines. That is why the “disciplines of the learning organization” are vital.

DISCIPLINES OF THE LEARNING ORGANIZATION

On a cold, clear morning in December 1903, at Kitty Hawk, North Carolina, the fragile aircraft of Wilbur and Orville Wright proved that powered flight was possible. Thus was the airplane invented; but it would take more than thirty years before commercial aviation could serve the general public.

Engineers say that a new idea has been “invented” when it is proven to work in the laboratory. The idea becomes an “innovation” only when it can be replicated reliably on a meaningful scale at practical costs. If the idea is sufficiently important, such as the telephone, the digital computer, or commercial aircraft, it is called a “basic innovation,” and it creates a new industry or transforms an existing industry. In these terms, learning organizations have been invented, but they have not yet been innovated.

In engineering, when an idea moves from an invention to an innovation, diverse “component technologies” come together. Emerging from isolated developments in separate fields of research, these components gradually form an “ensemble of technologies that are critical to each others’ success. Until this ensemble forms, the idea, though possible in the laboratory, does not achieve its potential in practice.2

The Wright Brothers proved that powered flight was possible, but the McDonnell Douglas DC-3, introduced in 1935, ushered in the era of commercial air travel. The DC-3 was the first plane that supported itself economically as well as aerodynamically. During those intervening thirty years (a typical time period for incubating basic

innovations), myriad experiments with commercial flight had failed. Like early experiments with learning organizations, the early planes were not reliable and cost effective on an appropriate scale.

The DC-3, for the first time, brought together five critical component technologies that formed a successful ensemble. They were: the variable-pitch propeller, retractable landing gear, a type of lightweight molded body construction called “monocque,” radial air-cooled engine, and wing flaps. To succeed, the DC-3 needed all five; four were not enough. One year earlier, the Boeing 247 was introduced with all of them except wing flaps. Lacking wing flaps, Boeing’s engineers found that the plane was unstable on takeoff and landing and had to downsize the engine.

Today, I believe, five new “component technologies” are gradually converging to innovate learning organizations. Though developed separately, each will, I believe, prove critical to the others’ success, just as occurs with any ensemble. Each provides a vital dimension in building organizations that can truly “learn,” that can continually enhance their capacity to realize their highest aspirations:

Systems Thinking. A cloud masses, the sky darkens, leaves twist upward, and we know that it will rain. We also know that after the storm, the runoff will feed into groundwater miles away, and the sky will grow clear by tomorrow. All these events are distant in time and space, and yet they are all connected within the same pattern. Each has an influence on the rest, an influence that is usually hidden from view. You can only understand the system of a rainstorm by contemplating the whole, not any individual part of the pattern.

Business and other human endeavors are also systems. They, too, are bound by invisible fabrics of interrelated actions, which often take years to fully play out their effects on each other. Since we are part of that lacework ourselves, it’s doubly hard to see the whole pattern of change. Instead, we tend to focus on snapshots of isolated parts of the system, and wonder why our deepest problems never seem to get solved. Systems thinking is a conceptual framework, a body of knowledge and tools that has been developed over the past fifty years, to make the full patterns clearer, and to help us see how to change them effectively.

Though the tools are new, the underlying worldview is extremely intuitive; experiments with young children show that they learn systems thinking very quickly.

Personal Mastery. Mastery might suggest gaining dominance over people or things. But mastery can also mean a special level of proficiency. A master craftsman doesn’t dominate pottery or weaving. People with a high level of personal mastery are able to consistently realize the results that matter most deeply to them— in effect, they approach their life as an artist would approach a work of art. They do that by becoming committed to their own lifelong learning.

Personal mastery is the discipline of continually clarifying and deepening our personal vision, of focusing our energies, of developing patience, and of seeing reality objectively. As such, it is an essential cornerstone of the learning organization—the learning organization’s spiritual foundation. An organization’s commitment to and capacity for learning can be no greater than that of its members. The roots of this discipline lie in both Eastern and Western spiritual traditions, and in secular traditions as well.

But surprisingly few organizations encourage the growth of their people in this manner. This results in vast untapped resources: “People enter business as bright, well-educated, high-energy people, full of energy and desire to make a difference,” says Hanover’s O’Brien. “By the time they are 30, a few are on the “fast track” and the rest ‘put in their time’ to do what matters to them on the weekend. They lose the commitment, the sense of mission, and the excitement with which they started their careers. We get damn little of their energy and almost none of their spirit.”

And surprisingly few adults work to rigorously develop their own personal mastery. When you ask most adults what they want from their lives, they often talk first about

what they’d like to get rid of: “I’d like my mother-in-law to move out,” they say, or “I’d like my back problems to clear up.” The discipline of personal mastery, by contrast, starts with clarifying the things that really matter to us, of living our lives in the service of our highest aspirations.

Here, I am most interested in the connections between personal learning and organizational learning, in the reciprocal commitments between individual and organization, and in the special spirit of an enterprise made up of learners.

Mental Models. “Mental models” are deeply ingrained assumptions, generalizations, or even pictures or images that influence how we understand the world and how we take action. Very often, we are not consciously aware of our mental models or the effects they have on our behavior. For example, we may notice that a co-worker dresses elegantly, and say to ourselves, “She’s a country club person.” About someone who dresses shabbily, we may feel, “He doesn’t care about what others think.” Mental models of what can or cannot be done in different management settings are no less deeply entrenched. Many insights into new markets or outmoded organizational practices fail to get put into practice because they conflict with powerful, tacit mental models.

Royal Dutch/Shell, one of the first large organizations to understand the advantages of accelerating organizational learning came to this realization when they discovered how pervasive was the influence of hidden mental models, especially those that become widely shared. Shell’s extraordinary success in managing through the dramatic changes and unpredictability of the world oil business in the 1970s and 1980s came in large measure from learning how to surface and challenge manager’s mental models. (In the early 1970s Shell was the weakest of the big seven oil companies; by the late 1980s it was the strongest.) Arie de Geus, Shell’s recently retired Coordinator of Group Planning, says that continuous adaptation and growth in a changing business environment depends on “institutional learning, which is the process whereby management teams change their shared mental models of the company, their markets, and their competitors. For this reason, we think of planning as learning and of corporate planning as institutional learning.”3

The discipline of working with mental models starts with turning the mirror inward; learning to unearth our internal pictures of the world, to bring them to the surface and hold them rigorously to scrutiny. It also includes the ability to carry on “learningful” conversations that balance inquiry and advocacy, where people expose their own thinking effectively and make that thinking open to the influence of others.

Building Shared Vision. If any one idea about leadership has inspired organizations for thousands of years, it’s the capacity to hold a shared picture of the future we seek to create. One is hard pressed to think of any organization that has sustained some measure of greatness in the absence of goals, values, and missions that become deeply shared throughout the organization. IBM had “service”; Polaroid had instant photography; Ford had public transportation for the masses and Apple had computing power for the masses. Though radically different in content and kind, all these organizations managed to bind people together around a common identity and sense of destiny.

When there is a genuine vision (as opposed to the all-too-familiar “vision statement”), people excel and learn, not because they are told to, but because they want to. But many leaders have personal visions that never get translated into shared visions that galvanize an organization. All too often, a company’s shared vision has revolved around the charisma of a leader, or around a crisis that galvanizes everyone temporarily. But, given a choice, most people opt for pursuing a lofty goal, not only in times of crisis but at all times. What has been lacking is a discipline for translating individual vision into shared vision—not a “cookbook” but a set of principles and guiding practices.

The practice of shared vision involves the skills of unearthing shared “pictures of the future” that foster genuine commitment and enrollment rather than compliance. In mastering this discipline, leaders learn the counterproductiveness of trying to dictate a vision, no matter how heartfelt.

Team Learning. How can a team of committed managers with individual IQs above 120 have a collective IQ of 63? The discipline of team learning confronts this paradox. We know that teams can learn; in sports, in the performing arts, in science, and even, occasionally, in business, there are striking examples where the intelligence of the team exceeds the intelligence of the individuals in the team, and where teams develop extraordinary capacities for coordinated action. When teams are truly learning, not only are they producing extraordinary results but the individual members are growing more rapidly than could have occurred otherwise.

The discipline of team learning starts with “dialogue,” the capacity of members of a team to suspend assumptions and enter into a genuine “thinking together.” To the Greeks dia-logos meant a free-flowing of meaning through a group, allowing the group to discover insights not attainable individually. Interestingly, the practice of dialogue has been preserved in many “primitive” cultures, such as that of the American Indian, but it has been almost completely lost to modern society. Today, the principles and practices of dialogue are being rediscovered and put into a contemporary context. (Dialogue differs from the more common “discussion,” which has its roots with “percussion” and “concussion,” literally a heaving of ideas back and forth in a winner-takes-all competition.)

The discipline of dialogue also involves learning how to recognize the patterns of interaction in teams that undermine learning. The patterns of defensiveness are often deeply engrained in how a team operates. If unrecognized, they undermine learning. If recognized and surfaced creatively, they can actually accelerate learning.

Team learning is vital because teams, not individuals, are the fundamental learning unit in modern organizations. This where “the rubber meets the road”; unless teams can learn, the organization cannot learn.

If a learning organization were an engineering innovation, such as the airplane or the personal computer, the components would be called “technologies.” For an innovation in human behavior, the components need to be seen as disciplines. By “discipline,” I do not mean an “enforced order” or “means of punishment,” but a body of theory and technique that must be studied and mastered to be put into practice. A discipline is a developmental path for acquiring certain skills or competencies. As with any discipline, from playing the piano to electrical engineering, some people have an innate “gift,” but anyone can develop proficiency through practice.

To practice a discipline is to be a lifelong learner. You “never arrive”; you spend your life mastering disciplines. You can never say, “We are a learning organization,” any more than you can say, “I am an enlightened person.” The more you learn, the more acutely aware you become of your ignorance. Thus, a corporation cannot be “excellent” in the sense of having arrived at a permanent excellence; it is always in the state of practicing the disciplines of learning, of becoming better or worse.

That organizations can benefit from disciplines is not a totally new idea. After all, management disciplines such as accounting have been around for a long time. But the five learning disciplines differ from more familiar management disciplines in that they are “personal” disciplines. Each has to do with how we think, what we truly want, and how we interact and learn with one another. In this sense, they are more like artistic disciplines than traditional management disciplines. Moreover, while accounting is good for “keeping score,” we have never approached the subtler tasks of building organizations, of enhancing their capabilities for innovation and creativity, of crafting strategy and designing policy and structure through assimilating new disciplines. Perhaps this is why, all too often, great organizations are fleeting, enjoying their moment in the sun, then passing quietly back to the ranks of the mediocre.

Practicing a discipline is different from emulating “a model.” AH too often, new management innovations are described in terms of the “best practices” of so-called leading firms. While interesting, I believe such descriptions can often do more harm than good, leading to piecemeal copying and playing catch-up. I do not believe great organizations have ever been built by trying to emulate another, any more than individual greatness is achieved by trying to copy another “great person.”

When the five component technologies converged to create the DC-3 the commercial airline industry began. But the DC-3 was not the end of the process. Rather, it was the precursor of a new industry. Similarly, as the five component learning disciplines converge they will not create the learning organization but rather a new wave of experimentation and advancement.

THE FIFTH DISCIPLINE

It is vital that the five disciplines develop as an ensemble. This is challenging because it is much harder to integrate new tools than simply apply them separately. But the payoffs are immense.

This is why systems thinking is the fifth discipline. It is the discipline that integrates the disciplines, fusing them into a coherent body of theory and practice. It keeps them from being separate gimmicks or the latest organization change fads. Without a systemic orientation, there is no motivation to look at how the disciplines interrelate. By enhancing each of the other disciplines, it continually reminds us that the whole can exceed the sum of its parts.

For example, vision without systems thinking ends up painting lovely pictures of the future with no deep understanding of the forces that must be mastered to move from here to there. This is one of the reasons why many firms that have jumped on the “vision bandwagon” in recent years have found that lofty vision alone fails to turn around a firm’s fortunes. Without systems thinking, the seed of vision falls on harsh soil. If nonsystemic thinking predominates, the first condition for nurturing vision is not met: a genuine belief that we can make our vision real in the future. We may say “We can achieve our vision” (most American managers are conditioned to this belief), but our tacit view of current reality as a set of conditions created by somebody else betrays us.

But systems thinking also needs the disciplines of building shared vision, mental models, team learning, and personal mastery to realize its potential. Building shared vision fosters a commitment to the long term. Mental models focus on the openness needed to unearth shortcomings in our present ways of seeing the world. Team learning develops the skills of groups of people to look for the larger picture that lies beyond individual perspectives. And personal mastery fosters the personal motivation to continually learn how our actions affect our world. Without personal mastery, people are so steeped in the reactive mindset (“someone/something else is creating my problems”) that they are deeply threatened by the systems perspective.

Lastly, systems thinking makes understandable the subtlest aspect of the learning organization—the new way individuals perceive themselves and their world. At the heart of a learning organization is a shift of mind—from seeing ourselves as separate from the world to connected to the world, from seeing problems as caused by someone or something “out there” to seeing how our own actions create the problems we experience. A learning organization is a place where people are continually discovering how they create their reality. And how they can change it. As Archimedes has said, “Give me a lever long enough . . . and single-handed I can move the world.”

METANOIA—A SHIFT OF MIND

When you ask people about what it is like being part of a great team, what is most striking is the meaningfulness of the experience. People talk about being part of something larger than themselves, of being connected, of being generative. It becomes

quite clear that, for many, their experiences as part of truly great teams stand out as singular periods of life lived to the fullest. Some spend the rest of their lives looking for ways to recapture that spirit.

The most accurate word in Western culture to describe what happens in a learning organization is one that hasn’t had much currency for the past several hundred years. It is a word we have used in our work with organizations for some ten years, but we always caution them, and ourselves, to use it sparingly in public. The word is “metanoia” and it means a shift of mind. The word has a rich history. For the Greeks, it meant a fundamental shift or change, or more literally transcendence (“meta”—above or beyond, as in “metaphysics”) of mind (“noia,” from the root “nous,” of mind). In the early (Gnostic) Christian tradition, it took on a special meaning of awakening shared intuition and direct knowing of the highest, of God. “Metanoia” was probably the key term of such early Christians as John the Baptist. In the Catholic corpus the word metanoia was eventually translated as “repent.”

To grasp the meaning of “metanoia” is to grasp the deeper meaning of “learning,” for learning also involves a fundamental shift or movement of mind. The problem with talking about “learning organizations” is that the “learning” has lost its central meaning in contemporary usage. Most people’s eyes glaze over if you talk to them about “learning” or “learning organizations.” Little wonder—for, in everyday use, learning has come to be synonymous with “taking in information.” “Yes, I learned all about that at the course yesterday.” Yet, taking in information is only distantly related to real learning. It would be nonsensical to say, “I just read a great book about bicycle riding—I’ve now learned that.”

Real learning gets to the heart of what it means to be human. Through learning we re-create ourselves. Through learning we become able to do something we never were able to do. Through learning we reperceive the world and our relationship to it. Through learning we extend our capacity to create, to be part of the generative process of life. There is within each of us a deep hunger for this type of learning. It is, as Bill O’Brien of Hanover Insurance says, “as fundamental to human beings as the sex drive.”

This, then, is the basic meaning of a “learning organization”—an organization that is continually expanding its capacity to create its future. For such an organization, it is not enough merely to survive. “Survival learning” or what is more often termed “adaptive learning” is important—indeed it is necessary. But for a learning organization, “adaptive learning” must be joined by “generative learning,” learning that enhances our capacity to create.

A few brave organizational pioneers are pointing the way, but the territory of building learning organizations is still largely unexplored. It is my fondest hope that this book can accelerate that exploration.

PUTTING THE IDEAS INTO PRACTICE

I take no credit for inventing the five major disciplines of this book. The five disciplines described below represent the experimentation, research, writing, and invention of hundreds of people. But I have worked with all of the disciplines for years, refining ideas about them, collaborating on research, and introducing them to organizations throughout the world.

When I entered graduate school at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology in 1970, I was already convinced that most of the problems faced by humankind concerned our inability to grasp and manage the increasingly complex systems of our world. Little has happened since to change my view. Today, the arms race, the environmental crisis, the international drug trade, the stagnation in the Third World, and the persisting U.S. budget and trade deficits all attest to a world where problems are becoming increasingly complex and interconnected. From the start at MIT I was drawn to the work of Jay Forrester, a computer pioneer who had shifted fields to develop what he called “system dynamics.” Jay maintained that the causes of many pressing public issues, from urban decay to global ecological threat, lay in the very well-intentioned policies designed to alleviate them. These problems were “actually systems”

that lured policymakers into interventions that focused on obvious symptoms not underlying causes, which produced short-term benefit but long-term malaise, and fostered the need for still more symptomatic interventions.

As I began my doctoral work, I had little interest in business management. I felt that the solutions to the Big Issues lay in the public sector. But I began to meet business leaders who came to visit our MIT group to learn about systems thinking. These were thoughtful people, deeply aware of the inadequacies of prevailing ways of managing. They were engaged in building new types of organizations —decentralized, nonhierarchical organizations dedicated to the well-being and growth of employees as well as to success. Some had crafted radical corporate philosophies based on core values of freedom and responsibility. Others had developed innovative organization designs. All shared a commitment and a capacity to innovate that was lacking in the public sector. Gradually, I came to realize why business is the locus of innovation in an open society. Despite whatever hold past thinking may have on the business mind, business has a f

LEADERSHIP QUESTION

RANDOM HOUSE | NEW YORK

Copyright © 2006, 2016 by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC,
New York.

RANDOM HOUSE and the HOUSE colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

Grateful acknowledgment is made to Jeremy P. Tarcher, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, for
permission to reprint four illustrations from pp. 18–19 of The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
Workbook by Betty Edwards, copyright © 2003. Reprinted by permission of Jeremy P. Tarcher, an imprint

of Penguin Random House LLC.

Originally published in a slightly different form in 2006 by Random House, an imprint and division of
Penguin Random House LLC.

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN—PUBLICATION DATA Dweck, Carol S.
Mindset: the new psychology of success / Carol S. Dweck p. cm.

Includes index.
ISBN 978-1-4000-6275-1

eBook ISBN 978-1-58836523-1

Belief and doubt. 2. Success—Psychological aspects. I. Title.
BF773.D85 2006

153.8—dc22 2005046454

Ebook ISBN 9781588365231

randomhousebooks.com

UPDATED EDITION

Cover design: Richard Rossiter v4.1

ep

Contents

Cover
Title Page
Copyright
Introduction

Chapter 1: The Mindsets
Chapter 2: Inside the Mindsets
Chapter 3: The Truth About Ability and Accomplishment
Chapter 4: Sports: The Mindset of a Champion
Chapter 5: Business: Mindset and Leadership
Chapter 6: Relationships: Mindsets in Love (or Not)
Chapter 7: Parents, Teachers, and Coaches: Where Do Mindsets Come From?
Chapter 8: Changing Mindsets

Notes
Recommended Books
About the Author

INTRODUCTION

One day, my students sat me down and ordered me to write this book. They
wanted people to be able to use our work to make their lives better. It was
something I’d wanted to do for a long time, but it became my number one
priority.
My work is part of a tradition in psychology that shows the power of people’s

beliefs. These may be beliefs we’re aware of or unaware of, but they strongly
affect what we want and whether we succeed in getting it. This tradition also
shows how changing people’s beliefs—even the simplest beliefs—can have
profound effects.
In this book, you’ll learn how a simple belief about yourself—a belief we

discovered in our research—guides a large part of your life. In fact, it permeates
every part of your life. Much of what you think of as your personality actually
grows out of this “mindset.” Much of what may be preventing you from
fulfilling your potential grows out of it.
No book has ever explained this mindset and shown people how to make use

of it in their lives. You’ll suddenly understand the greats—in the sciences and
arts, in sports, and in business—and the would-have-beens. You’ll understand
your mate, your boss, your friends, your kids. You’ll see how to unleash your
potential—and your children’s.
It is my privilege to share my findings with you. Besides accounts of people

from my research, I’ve filled each chapter with stories both ripped from the
headlines and based on my own life and experience, so you can see the mindsets
in action. (In most cases, names and personal information have been changed to
preserve anonymity; in some cases, several people have been condensed into one
to make a clearer point. A number of the exchanges are re-created from memory,
and I have rendered them to the best of my ability.) At the end of each chapter
and throughout the last chapter, I show you ways to apply the lessons—ways to
recognize the mindset that is guiding your life, to understand how it works, and

to change it if you wish.
A little note about grammar. I know it and I love it, but I haven’t always

followed it in this book. I start sentences with ands and buts. I end sentences
with prepositions. I use the plural they in contexts that require the singular he or
she. I’ve done this for informality and immediacy, and I hope that the sticklers
will forgive me.
A little note on this updated edition. I felt it was important to add new

information to some of the chapters. I added our new study on organizational
mindsets to chapter 5 (Business). Yes, a whole organization can have a mindset!
I added a new section on “false growth mindset” to chapter 7 (Parents, Teachers,
and Coaches) after I learned about the many creative ways people were
interpreting and implementing the growth mindset, not always accurately. And I
added “The Journey to a (True) Growth Mindset” to chapter 8 (Changing
Mindsets) because many people have asked for more information on how to take
that journey. I hope these updates are helpful.
I’d like to take this chance to thank all of the people who made my research

and this book possible. My students have made my research career a complete
joy. I hope they’ve learned as much from me as I’ve learned from them. I’d also
like to thank the organizations that supported our research: the William T. Grant
Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, the
National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Child Health and
Human Development, the Spencer Foundation, and the Raikes Foundation.
The people at Random House have been the most encouraging team I could

wish for: Webster Younce, Daniel Menaker, Tom Perry, and, most of all,
Caroline Sutton and Jennifer Hershey, my editors. Your excitement about my
book and your great suggestions have made all the difference. I thank my superb
agent, Giles Anderson, as well as Heidi Grant for putting me in touch with him.
Thanks to all the people who gave me input and feedback, but special thanks

to Polly Shulman, Richard Dweck, and Maryann Peshkin for their extensive and
insightful comments. Finally, I thank my husband, David, for the love and
enthusiasm that give my life an extra dimension. His support throughout this
project was extraordinary.
My work has been about growth, and it has helped foster my own growth. It is

my wish that it will do the same for you.

Chapter 1

THE MINDSETS

When I was a young researcher, just starting out, something happened that
changed my life. I was obsessed with understanding how people cope with
failures, and I decided to study it by watching how students grapple with hard
problems. So I brought children one at a time to a room in their school, made
them comfortable, and then gave them a series of puzzles to solve. The first ones
were fairly easy, but the next ones were hard. As the students grunted, perspired,
and toiled, I watched their strategies and probed what they were thinking and
feeling. I expected differences among children in how they coped with the
difficulty, but I saw something I never expected.
Confronted with the hard puzzles, one ten-year-old boy pulled up his chair,

rubbed his hands together, smacked his lips, and cried out, “I love a challenge!”
Another, sweating away on these puzzles, looked up with a pleased expression
and said with authority, “You know, I was hoping this would be informative!”
What’s wrong with them? I wondered. I always thought you coped with

failure or you didn’t cope with failure. I never thought anyone loved failure.
Were these alien children or were they on to something?
Everyone has a role model, someone who pointed the way at a critical

moment in their lives. These children were my role models. They obviously
knew something I didn’t and I was determined to figure it out—to understand
the kind of mindset that could turn a failure into a gift.
What did they know? They knew that human qualities, such as intellectual

skills, could be cultivated. And that’s what they were doing—getting smarter.
Not only weren’t they discouraged by failure, they didn’t even think they were
failing. They thought they were learning.
I, on the other hand, thought human qualities were carved in stone. You were

smart or you weren’t, and failure meant you weren’t. It was that simple. If you
could arrange successes and avoid failures (at all costs), you could stay smart.

Struggles, mistakes, perseverance were just not part of this picture.
Whether human qualities are things that can be cultivated or things that are

carved in stone is an old issue. What these beliefs mean for you is a new one:
What are the consequences of thinking that your intelligence or personality is
something you can develop, as opposed to something that is a fixed, deep-seated
trait? Let’s first look in on the age-old, fiercely waged debate about human
nature and then return to the question of what these beliefs mean for you.

WHY DO PEOPLE DIFFER?

Since the dawn of time, people have thought differently, acted differently, and
fared differently from each other. It was guaranteed that someone would ask the
question of why people differed—why some people are smarter or more moral—
and whether there was something that made them permanently different. Experts
lined up on both sides. Some claimed that there was a strong physical basis for
these differences, making them unavoidable and unalterable. Through the ages,
these alleged physical differences have included bumps on the skull
(phrenology), the size and shape of the skull (craniology), and, today, genes.
Others pointed to the strong differences in people’s backgrounds, experiences,

training, or ways of learning. It may surprise you to know that a big champion of
this view was Alfred Binet, the inventor of the IQ test. Wasn’t the IQ test meant
to summarize children’s unchangeable intelligence? In fact, no. Binet, a
Frenchman working in Paris in the early twentieth century, designed this test to
identify children who were not profiting from the Paris public schools, so that
new educational programs could be designed to get them back on track. Without
denying individual differences in children’s intellects, he believed that education
and practice could bring about fundamental changes in intelligence. Here is a
quote from one of his major books, Modern Ideas About Children, in which he
summarizes his work with hundreds of children with learning difficulties:

A few modern philosophers…assert that an individual’s intelligence
is a fixed quantity, a quantity which cannot be increased. We must
protest and react against this brutal pessimism….With practice,
training, and above all, method, we manage to increase our
attention, our memory, our judgment and literally to become more
intelligent than we were before.

Who’s right? Today most experts agree that it’s not either–or. It’s not nature
or nurture, genes or environment. From conception on, there’s a constant give-
and-take between the two. In fact, as Gilbert Gottlieb, an eminent neuroscientist,
put it, not only do genes and environment cooperate as we develop, but genes
require input from the environment to work properly.
At the same time, scientists are learning that people have more capacity for

lifelong learning and brain development than they ever thought. Of course, each
person has a unique genetic endowment. People may start with different
temperaments and different aptitudes, but it is clear that experience, training, and
personal effort take them the rest of the way. Robert Sternberg, the present-day
guru of intelligence, writes that the major factor in whether people achieve
expertise “is not some fixed prior ability, but purposeful engagement.” Or, as his
forerunner Binet recognized, it’s not always the people who start out the
smartest who end up the smartest.

WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN FOR YOU? THE TWO MINDSETS

It’s one thing to have pundits spouting their opinions about scientific issues. It’s
another thing to understand how these views apply to you. For thirty years, my
research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the
way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you
want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value. How does this
happen? How can a simple belief have the power to transform your psychology
and, as a result, your life?
Believing that your qualities are carved in stone—the fixed mindset—creates

an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of
intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character—well, then
you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do
to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.
Some of us are trained in this mindset from an early age. Even as a child, I

was focused on being smart, but the fixed mindset was really stamped in by Mrs.
Wilson, my sixth-grade teacher. Unlike Alfred Binet, she believed that people’s
IQ scores told the whole story of who they were. We were seated around the
room in IQ order, and only the highest-IQ students could be trusted to carry the
flag, clap the erasers, or take a note to the principal. Aside from the daily
stomachaches she provoked with her judgmental stance, she was creating a

mindset in which everyone in the class had one consuming goal—look smart,
don’t look dumb. Who cared about or enjoyed learning when our whole being
was at stake every time she gave us a test or called on us in class?
I’ve seen so many people with this one consuming goal of proving themselves

—in the classroom, in their careers, and in their relationships. Every situation
calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every
situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I
be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser?
But doesn’t our society value intelligence, personality, and character? Isn’t it

normal to want these traits? Yes, but…
There’s another mindset in which these traits are not simply a hand you’re

dealt and have to live with, always trying to convince yourself and others that
you have a royal flush when you’re secretly worried it’s a pair of tens. In this
mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This
growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can
cultivate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others. Although
people may differ in every which way—in their initial talents and aptitudes,
interests, or temperaments—everyone can change and grow through application
and experience.
Do people with this mindset believe that anyone can be anything, that anyone

with proper motivation or education can become Einstein or Beethoven? No, but
they believe that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s
impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and
training.
Did you know that Darwin and Tolstoy were considered ordinary children?

That Ben Hogan, one of the greatest golfers of all time, was completely
uncoordinated and graceless as a child? That the photographer Cindy Sherman,
who has been on virtually every list of the most important artists of the twentieth
century, failed her first photography course? That Geraldine Page, one of our
greatest actresses, was advised to give it up for lack of talent?
You can see how the belief that cherished qualities can be developed creates a

passion for learning. Why waste time proving over and over how great you are,
when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming
them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem
instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried
and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching

yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the
hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive
during some of the most challenging times in their lives.

A VIEW FROM THE TWO MINDSETS

To give you a better sense of how the two mindsets work, imagine—as vividly
as you can—that you are a young adult having a really bad day:

One day, you go to a class that is really important to you and that
you like a lot. The professor returns the midterm papers to the class.
You got a C+. You’re very disappointed. That evening on the way
back to your home, you find that you’ve gotten a parking ticket.
Being really frustrated, you call your best friend to share your
experience but are sort of brushed off.

What would you think? What would you feel? What would you do?
When I asked people with the fixed mindset, this is what they said: “I’d feel

like a reject.” “I’m a total failure.” “I’m an idiot.” “I’m a loser.” “I’d feel
worthless and dumb—everyone’s better than me.” “I’m slime.” In other words,
they’d see what happened as a direct measure of their competence and worth.
This is what they’d think about their lives: “My life is pitiful.” “I have no

life.” “Somebody upstairs doesn’t like me.” “The world is out to get me.”
“Someone is out to destroy me.” “Nobody loves me, everybody hates me.” “Life
is unfair and all efforts are useless.” “Life stinks. I’m stupid. Nothing good ever
happens to me.” “I’m the most unlucky person on this earth.”
Excuse me, was there death and destruction, or just a grade, a ticket, and a bad

phone call?
Are these just people with low self-esteem? Or card-carrying pessimists? No.

When they aren’t coping with failure, they feel just as worthy and optimistic—
and bright and attractive—as people with the growth mindset.
So how would they cope? “I wouldn’t bother to put so much time and effort

into doing well in anything.” (In other words, don’t let anyone measure you
again.) “Do nothing.” “Stay in bed.” “Get drunk.” “Eat.” “Yell at someone if I
get a chance to.” “Eat chocolate.” “Listen to music and pout.” “Go into my

closet and sit there.” “Pick a fight with somebody.” “Cry.” “Break something.”
“What is there to do?”
What is there to do! You know, when I wrote the vignette, I intentionally

made the grade a C+, not an F. It was a midterm rather than a final. It was a
parking ticket, not a car wreck. They were “sort of brushed off,” not rejected
outright. Nothing catastrophic or irreversible happened. Yet from this raw
material the fixed mindset created the feeling of utter failure and paralysis.
When I gave people with the growth mindset the same vignette, here’s what

they said. They’d think:
“I need to try harder in class, be more careful when parking the car, and

wonder if my friend had a bad day.”
“The C+ would tell me that I’d have to work a lot harder in the class, but I

have the rest of the semester to pull up my grade.”
There were many, many more like this, but I think you get the idea. Now, how

would they cope? Directly.
“I’d start thinking about studying harder (or studying in a different way) for

my next test in that class, I’d pay the ticket, and I’d work things out with my best
friend the next time we speak.”
“I’d look at what was wrong on my exam, resolve to do better, pay my

parking ticket, and call my friend to tell her I was upset the day before.”
“Work hard on my next paper, speak to the teacher, be more careful where I

park or contest the ticket, and find out what’s wrong with my friend.”
You don’t have to have one mindset or the other to be upset. Who wouldn’t

be? Things like a poor grade or a rebuff from a friend or loved one—these are
not fun events. No one was smacking their lips with relish. Yet those people with
the growth mindset were not labeling themselves and throwing up their hands.
Even though they felt distressed, they were ready to take the risks, confront the
challenges, and keep working at them.

SO, WHAT’S NEW?

Is this such a novel idea? We have lots of sayings that stress the importance of
risk and the power of persistence, such as “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”
and “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” or “Rome wasn’t built in a
day.” (By the way, I was delighted to learn that the Italians have the same

expression.) What is truly amazing is that people with the fixed mindset would
not agree. For them, it’s “Nothing ventured, nothing lost.” “If at first you don’t
succeed, you probably don’t have the ability.” “If Rome wasn’t built in a day,
maybe it wasn’t meant to be.” In other words, risk and effort are two things that
might reveal your inadequacies and show that you were not up to the task. In
fact, it’s startling to see the degree to which people with the fixed mindset do not
believe in putting in effort or getting help.
What’s also new is that people’s ideas about risk and effort grow out of their

more basic mindset. It’s not just that some people happen to recognize the value
of challenging themselves and the importance of effort. Our research has shown
that this comes directly from the growth mindset. When we teach people the
growth mindset, with its focus on development, these ideas about challenge and
effort follow. Similarly, it’s not just that some people happen to dislike challenge
and effort. When we (temporarily) put people in a fixed mindset, with its focus
on permanent traits, they quickly fear challenge and devalue effort.
We often see books with titles like The Ten Secrets of the World’s Most

Successful People crowding the shelves of bookstores, and these books may give
many useful tips. But they’re usually a list of unconnected pointers, like “Take
more risks!” or “Believe in yourself!” While you’re left admiring people who
can do that, it’s never clear how these things fit together or how you could ever
become that way. So you’re inspired for a few days, but basically the world’s
most successful people still have their secrets.
Instead, as you begin to understand the fixed and growth mindsets, you will

see exactly how one thing leads to another—how a belief that your qualities are
carved in stone leads to a host of thoughts and actions, and how a belief that
your qualities can be cultivated leads to a host of different thoughts and actions,
taking you down an entirely different road. It’s what we psychologists call an
Aha! experience. Not only have I seen this in my research when we teach people
a new mindset, but I get letters all the time from people who have read my work.
They recognize themselves: “As I read your article I literally found myself

saying over and over again, ‘This is me, this is me!’ ” They see the connections:
“Your article completely blew me away. I felt I had discovered the secret of the
universe!” They feel their mindsets reorienting: “I can certainly report a kind of
personal revolution happening in my own thinking, and this is an exciting
feeling.” And they can put this new thinking into practice for themselves and
others: “Your work has allowed me to transform my work with children and see

education through a different lens,” or “I just wanted to let you know what an
impact—on a personal and practical level—your outstanding research has had
for hundreds of students.” I get lots of these letters from coaches and business
leaders, too.

SELF-INSIGHT: WHO HAS ACCURATE VIEWS OF THEIR ASSETS
AND LIMITATIONS?

Well, maybe the people with the growth mindset don’t think they’re Einstein or
Beethoven, but aren’t they more likely to have inflated views of their abilities
and try for things they’re not capable of? In fact, studies show that people are
terrible at estimating their abilities. Recently, we set out to see who is most
likely to do this. Sure, we found that people greatly misestimated their
performance and their ability. But it was those with the fixed mindset who
accounted for almost all the inaccuracy. The people with the growth mindset
were amazingly accurate.
When you think about it, this makes sense. If, like those with the growth

mindset, you believe you can develop yourself, then you’re open to accurate
information about your current abilities, even if it’s unflattering. What’s more, if
you’re oriented toward learning, as they are, you need accurate information
about your current abilities in order to learn effectively. However, if everything
is either good news or bad news about your precious traits—as it is with fixed-
mindset people—distortion almost inevitably enters the picture. Some outcomes
are magnified, others are explained away, and before you know it you don’t
know yourself at all.
Howard Gardner, in his book Extraordinary Minds, concluded that

exceptional individuals have “a special talent for identifying their own strengths
and weaknesses.” It’s interesting that those with the growth mindset seem to
have that talent.

WHAT’S IN STORE

The other thing exceptional people seem to have is a special talent for converting
life’s setbacks into future successes. Creativity researchers concur. In a poll of
143 creativity researchers, there was wide agreement about the number one

ingredient in creative achievement. And it was exactly the kind of perseverance
and resilience produced by the growth mindset.
You may be asking again, How can one belief lead to all this—the love of

challenge, belief in effort, resilience in the face of setbacks, and greater (more
creative!) success? In the chapters that follow, you’ll see exactly how this
happens: how the mindsets change what people strive for and what they see as
success. How they change the definition, significance, and impact of failure.
And how they change the deepest meaning of effort. You’ll see how these
mindsets play out in school, in sports, in the workplace, and in relationships.
You’ll see where they come from and how they can be changed.

Grow Your Mindset

Which mindset do you have? Answer these questions about
intelligence. Read each statement and decide whether you mostly
agree with it or disagree with it.

1. Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you
can’t change very much.
2. You can learn new things, but you can’t really change how
intelligent you are.
3. No matter how much intelligence you have, you can always
change it quite a bit.
4. You can always substantially change how intelligent you are.

Questions 1 and 2 are the fixed-mindset questions. Questions 3 and
4 reflect the growth mindset. Which mindset did you agree with
more? You can be a mixture, but most people lean toward one or
the other.
You also have beliefs about other abilities. You could substitute

“artistic talent,” “sports ability,” or “business skill” for
“intelligence.” Try it.
It’s not only your abilities; it’s your personal qualities too. Look

at these statements about personality and character and decide

whether you mostly agree or mostly disagree with each one.

1. You are a certain kind of person, and there is not much that can
be done to really change that.
2. No matter what kind of person you are, you can always change
substantially.
3. You can do things differently, but the important parts of who you
are can’t really be changed.
4. You can always change basic things about the kind of person you
are.

Here, questions 1 and 3 are the fixed-mindset questions and
questions 2 and 4 reflect the growth mindset. Which did you agree
with more?
Did it differ from your intelligence mindset? It can. Your

“intelligence mindset” comes into play when situations involve
mental ability.
Your “personality mindset” comes into play in situations that

involve your personal qualities—for example, how dependable,
cooperative, caring, or socially skilled you are. The fixed mindset
makes you concerned with how you’ll be judged; the growth
mindset makes you concerned with improving.
Here are some more ways to think about mindsets:

• Think about someone you know who is steeped in the fixed
mindset. Think about how they’re always trying to prove
themselves and how they’re supersensitive about being wrong
or making mistakes. Did you ever wonder why they were this
way? (Are you this way?) Now you can begin to understand
why.

• Think about someone you know who is skilled in the growth
mindset—someone who understands that important qualities
can be cultivated. Think about the ways they confront
obstacles. Think about the things they do to stretch
themselves. What are some ways you might like to change or

stretch yourself?

• Okay, now imagine you’ve decided to learn a new language
and you’ve signed up for a class. A few sessions into the
course, the instructor calls you to the front of the room and
starts throwing questions at you one after another.

Put yourself in a fixed mindset. Your ability is on the line.
Can you feel everyone’s eyes on you? Can you see the
instructor’s face evaluating you? Feel the tension, feel your
ego bristle and waver. What else are you thinking and
feeling?
Now put yourself in a growth mindset. You’re a novice—

that’s why you’re here. You’re here to learn. The teacher is a
resource for learning. Feel the tension leave you; feel your
mind open up.
The message is: You can change your mindset.

Chapter 2

INSIDE THE MINDSETS

When I was a young woman, I wanted a prince-like mate. Very handsome, very
successful. A big cheese. I wanted a glamorous career, but nothing too hard or
risky. And I wanted it all to come to me as validation of who I was.
It would be many years before I was satisfied. I got a great guy, but he was a

work in progress. I have a great career, but boy, is it a constant challenge.
Nothing was easy. So why am I satisfied? I changed my mindset.
I changed it because of my work. One day my doctoral student, Mary

Bandura, and I were trying to understand why some students were so caught up
in proving their ability, while others could just let go and learn. Suddenly we
realized that there were two meanings to ability, not one: a fixed ability that
needs to be proven, and a changeable ability that can be developed through
learning.
That’s how the mindsets were born. I knew instantly which one I had. I

realized why I’d always been so concerned about mistakes and failures. And I
recognized for the first time that I had a choice.
When you enter a mindset, you enter a new world. In one world—the world of

fixed traits—success is about proving you’re smart or talented. Validating
yourself. In the other—the world of changing qualities—it’s about stretching
yourself to learn something new. Developing yourself.
In one world, failure is about having a setback. Getting a bad grade. Losing a

tournament. Getting fired. Getting rejected. It means you’re not smart or
talented. In the other world, failure is about not growing. Not reaching for the
things you value. It means you’re not fulfilli

LEADERSHIP QUESTION

RANDOM HOUSE | NEW YORK

Copyright © 2006, 2016 by Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D.

All rights reserved.

Published in the United States by Random House, an imprint and division of Penguin Random House LLC,
New York.

RANDOM HOUSE and the HOUSE colophon are registered trademarks of Penguin Random House LLC.

Grateful acknowledgment is made to Jeremy P. Tarcher, an imprint of Penguin Random House LLC, for
permission to reprint four illustrations from pp. 18–19 of The New Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain
Workbook by Betty Edwards, copyright © 2003. Reprinted by permission of Jeremy P. Tarcher, an imprint

of Penguin Random House LLC.

Originally published in a slightly different form in 2006 by Random House, an imprint and division of
Penguin Random House LLC.

LIBRARY OF CONGRESS CATALOGING-IN—PUBLICATION DATA Dweck, Carol S.
Mindset: the new psychology of success / Carol S. Dweck p. cm.

Includes index.
ISBN 978-1-4000-6275-1

eBook ISBN 978-1-58836523-1

Belief and doubt. 2. Success—Psychological aspects. I. Title.
BF773.D85 2006

153.8—dc22 2005046454

Ebook ISBN 9781588365231

randomhousebooks.com

UPDATED EDITION

Cover design: Richard Rossiter v4.1

ep

Contents

Cover
Title Page
Copyright
Introduction

Chapter 1: The Mindsets
Chapter 2: Inside the Mindsets
Chapter 3: The Truth About Ability and Accomplishment
Chapter 4: Sports: The Mindset of a Champion
Chapter 5: Business: Mindset and Leadership
Chapter 6: Relationships: Mindsets in Love (or Not)
Chapter 7: Parents, Teachers, and Coaches: Where Do Mindsets Come From?
Chapter 8: Changing Mindsets

Notes
Recommended Books
About the Author

INTRODUCTION

One day, my students sat me down and ordered me to write this book. They
wanted people to be able to use our work to make their lives better. It was
something I’d wanted to do for a long time, but it became my number one
priority.
My work is part of a tradition in psychology that shows the power of people’s

beliefs. These may be beliefs we’re aware of or unaware of, but they strongly
affect what we want and whether we succeed in getting it. This tradition also
shows how changing people’s beliefs—even the simplest beliefs—can have
profound effects.
In this book, you’ll learn how a simple belief about yourself—a belief we

discovered in our research—guides a large part of your life. In fact, it permeates
every part of your life. Much of what you think of as your personality actually
grows out of this “mindset.” Much of what may be preventing you from
fulfilling your potential grows out of it.
No book has ever explained this mindset and shown people how to make use

of it in their lives. You’ll suddenly understand the greats—in the sciences and
arts, in sports, and in business—and the would-have-beens. You’ll understand
your mate, your boss, your friends, your kids. You’ll see how to unleash your
potential—and your children’s.
It is my privilege to share my findings with you. Besides accounts of people

from my research, I’ve filled each chapter with stories both ripped from the
headlines and based on my own life and experience, so you can see the mindsets
in action. (In most cases, names and personal information have been changed to
preserve anonymity; in some cases, several people have been condensed into one
to make a clearer point. A number of the exchanges are re-created from memory,
and I have rendered them to the best of my ability.) At the end of each chapter
and throughout the last chapter, I show you ways to apply the lessons—ways to
recognize the mindset that is guiding your life, to understand how it works, and

to change it if you wish.
A little note about grammar. I know it and I love it, but I haven’t always

followed it in this book. I start sentences with ands and buts. I end sentences
with prepositions. I use the plural they in contexts that require the singular he or
she. I’ve done this for informality and immediacy, and I hope that the sticklers
will forgive me.
A little note on this updated edition. I felt it was important to add new

information to some of the chapters. I added our new study on organizational
mindsets to chapter 5 (Business). Yes, a whole organization can have a mindset!
I added a new section on “false growth mindset” to chapter 7 (Parents, Teachers,
and Coaches) after I learned about the many creative ways people were
interpreting and implementing the growth mindset, not always accurately. And I
added “The Journey to a (True) Growth Mindset” to chapter 8 (Changing
Mindsets) because many people have asked for more information on how to take
that journey. I hope these updates are helpful.
I’d like to take this chance to thank all of the people who made my research

and this book possible. My students have made my research career a complete
joy. I hope they’ve learned as much from me as I’ve learned from them. I’d also
like to thank the organizations that supported our research: the William T. Grant
Foundation, the National Science Foundation, the Department of Education, the
National Institute of Mental Health, the National Institute of Child Health and
Human Development, the Spencer Foundation, and the Raikes Foundation.
The people at Random House have been the most encouraging team I could

wish for: Webster Younce, Daniel Menaker, Tom Perry, and, most of all,
Caroline Sutton and Jennifer Hershey, my editors. Your excitement about my
book and your great suggestions have made all the difference. I thank my superb
agent, Giles Anderson, as well as Heidi Grant for putting me in touch with him.
Thanks to all the people who gave me input and feedback, but special thanks

to Polly Shulman, Richard Dweck, and Maryann Peshkin for their extensive and
insightful comments. Finally, I thank my husband, David, for the love and
enthusiasm that give my life an extra dimension. His support throughout this
project was extraordinary.
My work has been about growth, and it has helped foster my own growth. It is

my wish that it will do the same for you.

Chapter 1

THE MINDSETS

When I was a young researcher, just starting out, something happened that
changed my life. I was obsessed with understanding how people cope with
failures, and I decided to study it by watching how students grapple with hard
problems. So I brought children one at a time to a room in their school, made
them comfortable, and then gave them a series of puzzles to solve. The first ones
were fairly easy, but the next ones were hard. As the students grunted, perspired,
and toiled, I watched their strategies and probed what they were thinking and
feeling. I expected differences among children in how they coped with the
difficulty, but I saw something I never expected.
Confronted with the hard puzzles, one ten-year-old boy pulled up his chair,

rubbed his hands together, smacked his lips, and cried out, “I love a challenge!”
Another, sweating away on these puzzles, looked up with a pleased expression
and said with authority, “You know, I was hoping this would be informative!”
What’s wrong with them? I wondered. I always thought you coped with

failure or you didn’t cope with failure. I never thought anyone loved failure.
Were these alien children or were they on to something?
Everyone has a role model, someone who pointed the way at a critical

moment in their lives. These children were my role models. They obviously
knew something I didn’t and I was determined to figure it out—to understand
the kind of mindset that could turn a failure into a gift.
What did they know? They knew that human qualities, such as intellectual

skills, could be cultivated. And that’s what they were doing—getting smarter.
Not only weren’t they discouraged by failure, they didn’t even think they were
failing. They thought they were learning.
I, on the other hand, thought human qualities were carved in stone. You were

smart or you weren’t, and failure meant you weren’t. It was that simple. If you
could arrange successes and avoid failures (at all costs), you could stay smart.

Struggles, mistakes, perseverance were just not part of this picture.
Whether human qualities are things that can be cultivated or things that are

carved in stone is an old issue. What these beliefs mean for you is a new one:
What are the consequences of thinking that your intelligence or personality is
something you can develop, as opposed to something that is a fixed, deep-seated
trait? Let’s first look in on the age-old, fiercely waged debate about human
nature and then return to the question of what these beliefs mean for you.

WHY DO PEOPLE DIFFER?

Since the dawn of time, people have thought differently, acted differently, and
fared differently from each other. It was guaranteed that someone would ask the
question of why people differed—why some people are smarter or more moral—
and whether there was something that made them permanently different. Experts
lined up on both sides. Some claimed that there was a strong physical basis for
these differences, making them unavoidable and unalterable. Through the ages,
these alleged physical differences have included bumps on the skull
(phrenology), the size and shape of the skull (craniology), and, today, genes.
Others pointed to the strong differences in people’s backgrounds, experiences,

training, or ways of learning. It may surprise you to know that a big champion of
this view was Alfred Binet, the inventor of the IQ test. Wasn’t the IQ test meant
to summarize children’s unchangeable intelligence? In fact, no. Binet, a
Frenchman working in Paris in the early twentieth century, designed this test to
identify children who were not profiting from the Paris public schools, so that
new educational programs could be designed to get them back on track. Without
denying individual differences in children’s intellects, he believed that education
and practice could bring about fundamental changes in intelligence. Here is a
quote from one of his major books, Modern Ideas About Children, in which he
summarizes his work with hundreds of children with learning difficulties:

A few modern philosophers…assert that an individual’s intelligence
is a fixed quantity, a quantity which cannot be increased. We must
protest and react against this brutal pessimism….With practice,
training, and above all, method, we manage to increase our
attention, our memory, our judgment and literally to become more
intelligent than we were before.

Who’s right? Today most experts agree that it’s not either–or. It’s not nature
or nurture, genes or environment. From conception on, there’s a constant give-
and-take between the two. In fact, as Gilbert Gottlieb, an eminent neuroscientist,
put it, not only do genes and environment cooperate as we develop, but genes
require input from the environment to work properly.
At the same time, scientists are learning that people have more capacity for

lifelong learning and brain development than they ever thought. Of course, each
person has a unique genetic endowment. People may start with different
temperaments and different aptitudes, but it is clear that experience, training, and
personal effort take them the rest of the way. Robert Sternberg, the present-day
guru of intelligence, writes that the major factor in whether people achieve
expertise “is not some fixed prior ability, but purposeful engagement.” Or, as his
forerunner Binet recognized, it’s not always the people who start out the
smartest who end up the smartest.

WHAT DOES ALL THIS MEAN FOR YOU? THE TWO MINDSETS

It’s one thing to have pundits spouting their opinions about scientific issues. It’s
another thing to understand how these views apply to you. For thirty years, my
research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the
way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you
want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value. How does this
happen? How can a simple belief have the power to transform your psychology
and, as a result, your life?
Believing that your qualities are carved in stone—the fixed mindset—creates

an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of
intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character—well, then
you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do
to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.
Some of us are trained in this mindset from an early age. Even as a child, I

was focused on being smart, but the fixed mindset was really stamped in by Mrs.
Wilson, my sixth-grade teacher. Unlike Alfred Binet, she believed that people’s
IQ scores told the whole story of who they were. We were seated around the
room in IQ order, and only the highest-IQ students could be trusted to carry the
flag, clap the erasers, or take a note to the principal. Aside from the daily
stomachaches she provoked with her judgmental stance, she was creating a

mindset in which everyone in the class had one consuming goal—look smart,
don’t look dumb. Who cared about or enjoyed learning when our whole being
was at stake every time she gave us a test or called on us in class?
I’ve seen so many people with this one consuming goal of proving themselves

—in the classroom, in their careers, and in their relationships. Every situation
calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every
situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I
be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser?
But doesn’t our society value intelligence, personality, and character? Isn’t it

normal to want these traits? Yes, but…
There’s another mindset in which these traits are not simply a hand you’re

dealt and have to live with, always trying to convince yourself and others that
you have a royal flush when you’re secretly worried it’s a pair of tens. In this
mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This
growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can
cultivate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others. Although
people may differ in every which way—in their initial talents and aptitudes,
interests, or temperaments—everyone can change and grow through application
and experience.
Do people with this mindset believe that anyone can be anything, that anyone

with proper motivation or education can become Einstein or Beethoven? No, but
they believe that a person’s true potential is unknown (and unknowable); that it’s
impossible to foresee what can be accomplished with years of passion, toil, and
training.
Did you know that Darwin and Tolstoy were considered ordinary children?

That Ben Hogan, one of the greatest golfers of all time, was completely
uncoordinated and graceless as a child? That the photographer Cindy Sherman,
who has been on virtually every list of the most important artists of the twentieth
century, failed her first photography course? That Geraldine Page, one of our
greatest actresses, was advised to give it up for lack of talent?
You can see how the belief that cherished qualities can be developed creates a

passion for learning. Why waste time proving over and over how great you are,
when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming
them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem
instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried
and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching

yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the
hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive
during some of the most challenging times in their lives.

A VIEW FROM THE TWO MINDSETS

To give you a better sense of how the two mindsets work, imagine—as vividly
as you can—that you are a young adult having a really bad day:

One day, you go to a class that is really important to you and that
you like a lot. The professor returns the midterm papers to the class.
You got a C+. You’re very disappointed. That evening on the way
back to your home, you find that you’ve gotten a parking ticket.
Being really frustrated, you call your best friend to share your
experience but are sort of brushed off.

What would you think? What would you feel? What would you do?
When I asked people with the fixed mindset, this is what they said: “I’d feel

like a reject.” “I’m a total failure.” “I’m an idiot.” “I’m a loser.” “I’d feel
worthless and dumb—everyone’s better than me.” “I’m slime.” In other words,
they’d see what happened as a direct measure of their competence and worth.
This is what they’d think about their lives: “My life is pitiful.” “I have no

life.” “Somebody upstairs doesn’t like me.” “The world is out to get me.”
“Someone is out to destroy me.” “Nobody loves me, everybody hates me.” “Life
is unfair and all efforts are useless.” “Life stinks. I’m stupid. Nothing good ever
happens to me.” “I’m the most unlucky person on this earth.”
Excuse me, was there death and destruction, or just a grade, a ticket, and a bad

phone call?
Are these just people with low self-esteem? Or card-carrying pessimists? No.

When they aren’t coping with failure, they feel just as worthy and optimistic—
and bright and attractive—as people with the growth mindset.
So how would they cope? “I wouldn’t bother to put so much time and effort

into doing well in anything.” (In other words, don’t let anyone measure you
again.) “Do nothing.” “Stay in bed.” “Get drunk.” “Eat.” “Yell at someone if I
get a chance to.” “Eat chocolate.” “Listen to music and pout.” “Go into my

closet and sit there.” “Pick a fight with somebody.” “Cry.” “Break something.”
“What is there to do?”
What is there to do! You know, when I wrote the vignette, I intentionally

made the grade a C+, not an F. It was a midterm rather than a final. It was a
parking ticket, not a car wreck. They were “sort of brushed off,” not rejected
outright. Nothing catastrophic or irreversible happened. Yet from this raw
material the fixed mindset created the feeling of utter failure and paralysis.
When I gave people with the growth mindset the same vignette, here’s what

they said. They’d think:
“I need to try harder in class, be more careful when parking the car, and

wonder if my friend had a bad day.”
“The C+ would tell me that I’d have to work a lot harder in the class, but I

have the rest of the semester to pull up my grade.”
There were many, many more like this, but I think you get the idea. Now, how

would they cope? Directly.
“I’d start thinking about studying harder (or studying in a different way) for

my next test in that class, I’d pay the ticket, and I’d work things out with my best
friend the next time we speak.”
“I’d look at what was wrong on my exam, resolve to do better, pay my

parking ticket, and call my friend to tell her I was upset the day before.”
“Work hard on my next paper, speak to the teacher, be more careful where I

park or contest the ticket, and find out what’s wrong with my friend.”
You don’t have to have one mindset or the other to be upset. Who wouldn’t

be? Things like a poor grade or a rebuff from a friend or loved one—these are
not fun events. No one was smacking their lips with relish. Yet those people with
the growth mindset were not labeling themselves and throwing up their hands.
Even though they felt distressed, they were ready to take the risks, confront the
challenges, and keep working at them.

SO, WHAT’S NEW?

Is this such a novel idea? We have lots of sayings that stress the importance of
risk and the power of persistence, such as “Nothing ventured, nothing gained”
and “If at first you don’t succeed, try, try again” or “Rome wasn’t built in a
day.” (By the way, I was delighted to learn that the Italians have the same

expression.) What is truly amazing is that people with the fixed mindset would
not agree. For them, it’s “Nothing ventured, nothing lost.” “If at first you don’t
succeed, you probably don’t have the ability.” “If Rome wasn’t built in a day,
maybe it wasn’t meant to be.” In other words, risk and effort are two things that
might reveal your inadequacies and show that you were not up to the task. In
fact, it’s startling to see the degree to which people with the fixed mindset do not
believe in putting in effort or getting help.
What’s also new is that people’s ideas about risk and effort grow out of their

more basic mindset. It’s not just that some people happen to recognize the value
of challenging themselves and the importance of effort. Our research has shown
that this comes directly from the growth mindset. When we teach people the
growth mindset, with its focus on development, these ideas about challenge and
effort follow. Similarly, it’s not just that some people happen to dislike challenge
and effort. When we (temporarily) put people in a fixed mindset, with its focus
on permanent traits, they quickly fear challenge and devalue effort.
We often see books with titles like The Ten Secrets of the World’s Most

Successful People crowding the shelves of bookstores, and these books may give
many useful tips. But they’re usually a list of unconnected pointers, like “Take
more risks!” or “Believe in yourself!” While you’re left admiring people who
can do that, it’s never clear how these things fit together or how you could ever
become that way. So you’re inspired for a few days, but basically the world’s
most successful people still have their secrets.
Instead, as you begin to understand the fixed and growth mindsets, you will

see exactly how one thing leads to another—how a belief that your qualities are
carved in stone leads to a host of thoughts and actions, and how a belief that
your qualities can be cultivated leads to a host of different thoughts and actions,
taking you down an entirely different road. It’s what we psychologists call an
Aha! experience. Not only have I seen this in my research when we teach people
a new mindset, but I get letters all the time from people who have read my work.
They recognize themselves: “As I read your article I literally found myself

saying over and over again, ‘This is me, this is me!’ ” They see the connections:
“Your article completely blew me away. I felt I had discovered the secret of the
universe!” They feel their mindsets reorienting: “I can certainly report a kind of
personal revolution happening in my own thinking, and this is an exciting
feeling.” And they can put this new thinking into practice for themselves and
others: “Your work has allowed me to transform my work with children and see

education through a different lens,” or “I just wanted to let you know what an
impact—on a personal and practical level—your outstanding research has had
for hundreds of students.” I get lots of these letters from coaches and business
leaders, too.

SELF-INSIGHT: WHO HAS ACCURATE VIEWS OF THEIR ASSETS
AND LIMITATIONS?

Well, maybe the people with the growth mindset don’t think they’re Einstein or
Beethoven, but aren’t they more likely to have inflated views of their abilities
and try for things they’re not capable of? In fact, studies show that people are
terrible at estimating their abilities. Recently, we set out to see who is most
likely to do this. Sure, we found that people greatly misestimated their
performance and their ability. But it was those with the fixed mindset who
accounted for almost all the inaccuracy. The people with the growth mindset
were amazingly accurate.
When you think about it, this makes sense. If, like those with the growth

mindset, you believe you can develop yourself, then you’re open to accurate
information about your current abilities, even if it’s unflattering. What’s more, if
you’re oriented toward learning, as they are, you need accurate information
about your current abilities in order to learn effectively. However, if everything
is either good news or bad news about your precious traits—as it is with fixed-
mindset people—distortion almost inevitably enters the picture. Some outcomes
are magnified, others are explained away, and before you know it you don’t
know yourself at all.
Howard Gardner, in his book Extraordinary Minds, concluded that

exceptional individuals have “a special talent for identifying their own strengths
and weaknesses.” It’s interesting that those with the growth mindset seem to
have that talent.

WHAT’S IN STORE

The other thing exceptional people seem to have is a special talent for converting
life’s setbacks into future successes. Creativity researchers concur. In a poll of
143 creativity researchers, there was wide agreement about the number one

ingredient in creative achievement. And it was exactly the kind of perseverance
and resilience produced by the growth mindset.
You may be asking again, How can one belief lead to all this—the love of

challenge, belief in effort, resilience in the face of setbacks, and greater (more
creative!) success? In the chapters that follow, you’ll see exactly how this
happens: how the mindsets change what people strive for and what they see as
success. How they change the definition, significance, and impact of failure.
And how they change the deepest meaning of effort. You’ll see how these
mindsets play out in school, in sports, in the workplace, and in relationships.
You’ll see where they come from and how they can be changed.

Grow Your Mindset

Which mindset do you have? Answer these questions about
intelligence. Read each statement and decide whether you mostly
agree with it or disagree with it.

1. Your intelligence is something very basic about you that you
can’t change very much.
2. You can learn new things, but you can’t really change how
intelligent you are.
3. No matter how much intelligence you have, you can always
change it quite a bit.
4. You can always substantially change how intelligent you are.

Questions 1 and 2 are the fixed-mindset questions. Questions 3 and
4 reflect the growth mindset. Which mindset did you agree with
more? You can be a mixture, but most people lean toward one or
the other.
You also have beliefs about other abilities. You could substitute

“artistic talent,” “sports ability,” or “business skill” for
“intelligence.” Try it.
It’s not only your abilities; it’s your personal qualities too. Look

at these statements about personality and character and decide

whether you mostly agree or mostly disagree with each one.

1. You are a certain kind of person, and there is not much that can
be done to really change that.
2. No matter what kind of person you are, you can always change
substantially.
3. You can do things differently, but the important parts of who you
are can’t really be changed.
4. You can always change basic things about the kind of person you
are.

Here, questions 1 and 3 are the fixed-mindset questions and
questions 2 and 4 reflect the growth mindset. Which did you agree
with more?
Did it differ from your intelligence mindset? It can. Your

“intelligence mindset” comes into play when situations involve
mental ability.
Your “personality mindset” comes into play in situations that

involve your personal qualities—for example, how dependable,
cooperative, caring, or socially skilled you are. The fixed mindset
makes you concerned with how you’ll be judged; the growth
mindset makes you concerned with improving.
Here are some more ways to think about mindsets:

• Think about someone you know who is steeped in the fixed
mindset. Think about how they’re always trying to prove
themselves and how they’re supersensitive about being wrong
or making mistakes. Did you ever wonder why they were this
way? (Are you this way?) Now you can begin to understand
why.

• Think about someone you know who is skilled in the growth
mindset—someone who understands that important qualities
can be cultivated. Think about the ways they confront
obstacles. Think about the things they do to stretch
themselves. What are some ways you might like to change or

stretch yourself?

• Okay, now imagine you’ve decided to learn a new language
and you’ve signed up for a class. A few sessions into the
course, the instructor calls you to the front of the room and
starts throwing questions at you one after another.

Put yourself in a fixed mindset. Your ability is on the line.
Can you feel everyone’s eyes on you? Can you see the
instructor’s face evaluating you? Feel the tension, feel your
ego bristle and waver. What else are you thinking and
feeling?
Now put yourself in a growth mindset. You’re a novice—

that’s why you’re here. You’re here to learn. The teacher is a
resource for learning. Feel the tension leave you; feel your
mind open up.
The message is: You can change your mindset.

Chapter 2

INSIDE THE MINDSETS

When I was a young woman, I wanted a prince-like mate. Very handsome, very
successful. A big cheese. I wanted a glamorous career, but nothing too hard or
risky. And I wanted it all to come to me as validation of who I was.
It would be many years before I was satisfied. I got a great guy, but he was a

work in progress. I have a great career, but boy, is it a constant challenge.
Nothing was easy. So why am I satisfied? I changed my mindset.
I changed it because of my work. One day my doctoral student, Mary

Bandura, and I were trying to understand why some students were so caught up
in proving their ability, while others could just let go and learn. Suddenly we
realized that there were two meanings to ability, not one: a fixed ability that
needs to be proven, and a changeable ability that can be developed through
learning.
That’s how the mindsets were born. I knew instantly which one I had. I

realized why I’d always been so concerned about mistakes and failures. And I
recognized for the first time that I had a choice.
When you enter a mindset, you enter a new world. In one world—the world of

fixed traits—success is about proving you’re smart or talented. Validating
yourself. In the other—the world of changing qualities—it’s about stretching
yourself to learn something new. Developing yourself.
In one world, failure is about having a setback. Getting a bad grade. Losing a

tournament. Getting fired. Getting rejected. It means you’re not smart or
talented. In the other world, failure is about not growing. Not reaching for the
things you value. It means you’re not fulfilli

LEADERSHIP QUESTION



QUESTION:

You will apply principles, frameworks, lessons learned, etc. from the course readings to a crisis, disaster, or success that you choose (a self-selected case study). View the final paper as an expanded and more in-depth analysis of the weekly case studies we reviewed. Your self-selected case study cannot be one of the case studies examined during the course.

The paper must include three parts:

1. a relatively short description of the case study

2. an analysis of the leadership efforts (quality, effectiveness, etc.), or lack thereof, using appropriate principles from the readings from the case study!

3. an analysis/comment on the leadership lessons to be learned. The analysis (parts 2 and 3) should constitute the main part of the paper. If you cannot locate enough research material to address parts 2 and 3, choose another topic. It is important to identify and draw upon high-quality academic resources.

Readings are attached!!

Use this link for the case study:


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5086690/



Requirements:

APA FORMAT

9 PAGES

6 to 8 SOURCES plus READINGS ATTACHED!!

LEADERSHIP QUESTION



QUESTION:

You will apply principles, frameworks, lessons learned, etc. from the course readings to a crisis, disaster, or success that you choose (a self-selected case study). View the final paper as an expanded and more in-depth analysis of the weekly case studies we reviewed. Your self-selected case study cannot be one of the case studies examined during the course.

The paper must include three parts:

1. a relatively short description of the case study

2. an analysis of the leadership efforts (quality, effectiveness, etc.), or lack thereof, using appropriate principles from the readings from the case study!

3. an analysis/comment on the leadership lessons to be learned. The analysis (parts 2 and 3) should constitute the main part of the paper. If you cannot locate enough research material to address parts 2 and 3, choose another topic. It is important to identify and draw upon high-quality academic resources.

Readings are attached!!

Use this link for the case study:


https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC5086690/



Requirements:

APA FORMAT

9 PAGES

6 to 8 SOURCES plus READINGS ATTACHED!!