Found in 18 comments on Hacker News
j45 · 2019-01-20 · Original thread
The key is to be open to understanding yourself. Have people praised your intelligence in the past? That can be paralyzing over time. Or did they praise your effort?

I recommend giving a book called Mindset a read. It helped clarify behaviors of a fixed vs growth mindset, and how having talent still means working hard and putting themselves out there.

This book appears well researched and is the first audio book in a whole that has been able to hold my attention.

kaycebasques · 2018-07-13 · Original thread
> Now you're doing something boring, but in service of a cause that is meaningful to you.

I think this is a good balance.

Another way to look at it is from a "theory of change" [1] mindset. I discovered this idea a few weeks ago, from a HN comment, I believe. You envision some type of change that you want to bring about in the world, and then you work backwards in concrete steps in order to figure out how to make it happen. What's cool about this is that it gives you a clear purpose for going outside of your comfort zone and learning new skills. E.g. maybe you're a programmer, and you want to get the US on renewable energy. You're good at programming, but through your analysis you realize that persuading people (politics) is the most likely path to your goal. So you start improving your interpersonal skills.


As far as growth mindset, it's strange that the article said "Beyond that, there's not a clear way to develop a growth mindset about interests." The canonical book on the topic [2] offers many more ideas on how to cultivate growth mindset.


ashleypt · 2016-12-02 · Original thread
Yeah the fixed mindset has really crippled me in my life. I was one of those "gifted" kids (to be fair, I do have a pretty high IQ, but fixed mindset is bad for high-IQ individuals too) and I couldn't even stick with video games after awhile, always playing on the easiest difficulties. It's really taking a long time to re-build my attention span and work ethic (ie. from just fiddling around with a million little linux distros and languages, to really investing in learning Android/Java like I am right now - one thing at a time)

For anyone who hasn't read it yet, or isn't familiar with these ideas of praising effort and relative improvement over ability and talent, checkout Mindset - it's a great book which I'm about half-way through right now:

tokenadult · 2015-01-13 · Original thread
Another top-level comment asks,

Is anyone willing to contribute insight or actionable information in the interest of a better discussion? The article is steadily climbing the front page, so this is clearly a popular topic.

I'll put in an edit to my first comment here to answer that question. This is advice based on the research I did as I brought up four children, beginning in 1992:

1) The book The First Three Years of Life[A] by the late Burton White is a good book about child development. His perspective on how (to use the title of another of his books[B]) to raise a happy, unspoiled child is helpful for parents.

2) Be open to shopping for educational choices. Don't assume the school down the street will do a good job, no matter where you live. We have mostly been homeschoolers as our children have grown up, and our firstborn sent me a very kind email on Father's Day two years ago telling me he is glad I did that. He still thinks so two years later.

3) The book The Optimistic Child[C] by Martin E. P. Seligman is good for teaching children how to deal with inevitable problems and setbacks of human life.

4) The book Mindset[D] by Carol Dweck is a very good book on helping young people and people of all ages to maximize their abilities. We have seen wonderful results from "growth mindset" with our two younger children, who are young enough not to have known any other mindset in our household.

5) Develop a network of parents who are your close friends--close enough friends to be real with and to vent with when parenting becomes challenging. It's too easy for parents to isolate themselves by wanting to keep up a show of not having challenges in their parenting.





Having written that, I'm open for more discussion. What's below is my original comment on the submitted article.

Here is the gist of the article, in the author's own words: "I think a lot about parenting. Last year, I moved to the D.C. area after 16 years in Oregon. Although I grew up on the East Coast, I hadn’t been immersed in the competitive parenting scene since I left home for college. But since my husband and I returned, I’ve caught myself fretting over whether enrolling my daughter in the “right” activities — sports or academic enrichment? Karate or Odyssey of the Mind? Or both? — will guarantee her entrance into a good college and success in life.

"I don’t have time to talk about parenting with the moms of my daughter’s friends, and, besides, they’re all going through the same thing I am. I started thinking about the people who have raised successful children, and I wanted to explore how they did it."

She then relates anecdotes about various families she has encountered, who have had children who appear to be successful by differing definitions of success. Good for them. As a parent myself (four children, one grown up and launched into adult life, and three still in my care in my household), I thought I might see some actionable information here, but I really didn't. The experiences of the families described in the article differ enough from mine that even after reading the whole article, I will seek other sources of advice on how to continually refine my parenting.

Collections of anecdotes like this suffer from problems that everyone who reads Hacker News knows about, and anecdotes about effective parenting suffer from one more problem that a lot of people miss. Any collection of anecdotes suffers from sample bias: how do we know that these families are representative of the many millions of other families who have either unsuccessful or successful children? A collection of anecdotes about people who reach some defined endpoint suffers from "survivorship bias,"[1] the tendency to look only at what the people who reach the endpoint have in common, without looking at how they differ from people who drop out of the competition to reach that endpoint. Maybe we have no idea, after looking at the successful, if any of their characteristics really make them different from the unsuccessful.

A powerful mistake in many studies of parenting is not setting up a genetically sensitive design for the study. All human beings everywhere have systematic similarities with all other human beings everywhere. But in the aspects of human life that show individual variation, usually people resemble close relatives more than they resemble random members of all humanity. If some individual differences contribute to success, and some do not, we may have observations of children who become successful not because their parents parented well, but because their parents passed on genes for success to the children. Any correlation between parent behaviors and child outcomes has to be tested for whether or not it arises from genetic similarity. (The study designs that help tease out these issues, but do NOT fully resolve them, involve including observations of identical twins and adopted children--and at best identical twins adopted into different adoptive households, who are rare--to separate upbringing influences from biological inheritance influences.) Children resemble their parents sometimes more than parents wish.


devgutt · 2014-12-08 · Original thread
For me, the most useful book this year was Mindset by Carol Dweck. Simply amazing and mind-blowing.

sgpl · 2014-11-04 · Original thread
The book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success by Carol Dweck (the psychology professor at Stanford mentioned) also offers great insight into this. It is also a very well written book, and if you are into audiobooks, the narrator for this one does a splendid job.


patrickdavey · 2014-10-05 · Original thread
What about thinking of it in terms of risk / reward. Say in the (unlikely case) you completely fail to deliver... does it matter? Are they paying you? Can you structure the project so that you can do lots of small iterations and continually give them something which is useful?

On the plus side if you pull it off, which is probably more likely if you've been coding for a couple of years and have side projects already, then you'll have a public project to your name, and you'll learn heaps just through the process.

As for how I personally deal with self doubt. Badly ;) have heaps of it and find giving advice far easier than taking my own. I mean you'll never know unless you try right, and the only way to get better is to try & fail & get better a bunch of times. One book you may enjoy (short read) is called mindset:

Good luck, and I say give it a go.

tokenadult · 2014-08-23 · Original thread
A readable popular article about this research, "The Effort Effect," was published right after Professor Carol Dweck moved her research base from Columbia University to Stanford University.[1] And Dweck has written a full-length popular book, quite readable and helpful for parents, called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success[2] that I recommend to parents all the time.



michaellosee · 2014-02-14 · Original thread
> So how do we get as comfortable looking at recent mistakes as we are looking at the ones in the distant past? We probably can't - there's too much baggage.

Self Determination Theory (SDT, has a few ideas on how to answer this question. SDT provides some tools to deconstruct the concept of self esteem.

Traditional self perception is mainly concerned with a healthy self esteem. Under this paradigm it is only natural for people to regularly evaluate themselves by looking at past success/failures and by comparing themselves to others.

SDT provides an alternative to the traditional "self as an object" approach with a "self as a process" approach. While someone operating under the "self as an object" approach may ask themselves "Am I a good person? Am I worthy?", under SDT other questions like "Am I making good choices?" are much more important. This allows a person to view their own actions more objectively. Past mistakes are more readily available to be acknowledged and used to inform the future since they do not implicate an individual's self worth.

The book Mindset ( by Carol Dweck draws on a lot of SDT foundational concepts. The premise of the book explores and contrasts two mindsets: the static mindset and the growth mindset. If someone with the static mindset gets easy A's in school they take it to mean that they are smart. If someone with the growth mindsets get's easy A's it feels like a waste of time because it's not challenging. The author also discusses the benefits of praising a child's effort rather than just telling them how smart they are. It's a huge topic and I'm barely scratching the surface, but I think I've shown the top of this particular rabbit hole.

I still struggle with leveraging my failures constructively, but I have found learning about these concepts has enriched my life and helped me discover a hacker's mindset.

chrisgd · 2014-01-02 · Original thread
Here is Dweck's book. Have heard great things about it, but still sitting in my inbox.

clbrook · 2013-08-02 · Original thread
I haven't read through all the other comments and I have offered this advice before, so forgive me if it sounds repetitive.

The book that helped me the most was 'Mindset' by Carol Dweck. It is a quick read and gives multiple settings for describing fixed mindset vs growth mindset. It sounds like you are mainly in the fixed mindset and perhaps reading this book could jump start you into finding ways to incorporate the growth mindset.

ryanmolden · 2013-01-05 · Original thread
This was probably taken from the work of Carol Dweck[0]. I recently read a book she wrote (Mindset[1]) that was recommended on a thread here. The book title sounds like some corny self-help book, and honestly some of the stories in it seemed a bit sappy to me, but I think the underlying idea is solid and I definitely see it myself a lot in my day to day life (full disclosure: recovering fixed mindset person :)).

The basic premise is there are two types of mindsets, a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Those with the fixed mindset are those that believe that intelligence, ability, etc.. is basically fixed. You have some certain amount and that's that. The growth mindset believes the general range of these things may be strongly influenced ('fixed') by things like genetics, life circumstances, etc... but improvement within this range is definitely possible and the key to that is hard work and honest assessment of where you are relative to where you want to be.

This relates to the achievement vs. hard work thing because she claims children who are praised for 'being smart' or 'being good at X' tend to gravitate towards the fixed mindset (i.e. 'I get praised because I am smart, I am smart because I can do X well/X comes easily to me, if something doesn't come easily to me it must mean I am not smart/talented'). This causes them to not put in effort when the going gets tough and in fact to avoid challenges because if they fail they view it as a judgement on their core self/competency (not simply an indication of an area for growth).

The growth mindset folks (children praised for doing well because they worked hard at it as opposed to some natural talent or 'smarts') tend to seek challenges as they view them as the engine of growth/improvement.

Using these frameworks as a lens on which to view human behavior can be interesting. I have definitely seen both mindsets in action (in myself and others). I definitely , consciously, try to stay in a growth mindset now, but I think our culture heavily pushes a fixed mindset where someone either has 'it' or they don't, they are smart or they are not, they are talented or they are not. We prefer the 'instant success due to massive talent/smarts' story over the 'worked their ass off for years to build amazing talent and then succeeded due to that hard work'.

The book Talent Is Overrated[2] also touches on this and points out most people that we generally consider 'naturals' at things, if you interview them/study them/look at their past, all have something in common, a tremendous amount of effort in learning/training, above and beyond what most people put in. This also veers towards the 10,000 hour theory of Anders Ericsson[3]

EDIT: Fixed a bunch typos/misspelling I saw in re-reading. Originally typed in IE with no spell check. Area for improvement: spelling.





thinkling · 2012-12-02 · Original thread
Interestingly, this is exactly compatible with what Andrea Dwork writes about in "Mindset" [1]: people whose identity evolves around being "smart" or "talented" are often less willing to take on risks or big projects than those who have grown up being praised for their efforts.


bcl · 2011-11-28 · Original thread
VuongN · 2011-10-12 · Original thread
Here is a formula I think might work:

1) Discipline and personal activity: wake up and jog/exercise at the exact same time EVERY DAY. Nothing too exhaustive, just 15 to 20 minutes of consistent exercise. Don't miss a day.

2) Keep a journal of plus/delta: what was good and what needs to change during the day. Nothing extremely elaborate, start with a list of things you did during the day or the day before. Take this seriously. Do it in silence and reflect at a consistent time at night or early morning (after exercise).

3) Communications and group activity: join ONE group of interest (meetup perhaps), church, temple etc.

4) Family relationship building: talk to your mother and help your father. Take initiative, do the dishes, contribute to house chores. Don't be a dead beat... seriously, I've been and seen the type. Don't be lazy, help out around the house. You will see relationship improving. "No man is an island" learn to be a part of the family. Parents just want their kids to be decent, if they SEE improvements and efforts from you, they will respond back positively.

5) Read this book: If you don't have the money to buy it, give me your address and I WILL buy it for you. Learn the change your mindset into a growth mindset.

6) Go back to basic: NO complain, NO excuses, NO negativity and NO bull.

7) Remember. You are still very young, my friend. Life is long and there is a lot waiting for you. There are thousands of people out there who are willing to help you IF you ask for their help (like the HN community). And most importantly, there is no magic formula for a good life--you'll just have to work for it like everyone else.

My apologies if I made any unwarranted assumptions. I hope what I wrote could be something you might consider. Certain things work for me but they might not work for you. Still, if nothing is working, then try something else. Keep trying until something work for you. What I really want to impress upon you is this: CONSISTENCY and DISCIPLINE. Good luck.

(NOTE: please forgive my quick notes which might contain grammatical and spelling errors. I need to start my morning exercise as I am a bit late :P)

tokenadult · 2010-04-19 · Original thread
A lot of students(i perceive - even now) were in rush to prove that they understood - many a times getting to the end of the book before understanding the basics.

There is a whole book--which is very readable but should not be rushed through--about why learners think this way.

Here is a shorter article about the underlying research on this kind of self-defeating thinking, and what to do about it:

mronge · 2009-10-22 · Original thread
If you're interested in this, check out the book Mindset by Carol Dweck. I recommend it, it's amazing how hackable your mind is.

sri · 2007-05-04 · Original thread
Everyone should read Mindset by Carol Dweck

I think that it is a very important book. It is like a self-help book -- without the fluff and with science behind it. It talks about "growth-oriented mindset" (who focus on learning) versus "fixed mindset" (who think that intelligence is a fixed thing). And most people have both mindsets in different areas. And main point is you can change your mindset and what a difference that makes: you aren't afraid of looking bad (for a fixed mindset person, looking bad will amount to "i'm stupid", "i don't have it"). But for a growth minded person, looking bad simply means that they haven't put in the necessary time/effort to get better.

This is why you should never praise a child's intelligence. Eventually the child will think that "I was born with this talent" and will stop putting in the effort, and will become stuck -- that is, they were prodigies while growing up. But now, as an adult, they haven't progressed any further.

A really great book!!

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