Carol Dweck is the Lewis and Virginia Eaton professor of psychology at Stanford University and the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success (2007, Ballantine Books). Over 30 years ago, Dr. Dweck and her colleagues became interested in students’ attitudes about failure. They noticed that some students rebounded while other students seemed devastated by even the smallest setbacks. Dr. Dweck’s growth mindset explained here is the result of studying the behavior of thousands of children.

Dr. Dweck coined the terms fixed mindset and growth mindset to describe the underlying beliefs people have about learning and intelligence. When students believe they can get smarter, they understand that effort makes them stronger. Therefore they put in extra time and effort, and that leads to higher achievement.

In an Harvard Business Review piece  Carol Dweck explains that “Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts). This is because they worry less about looking smart and they put more energy into learning. When entire companies embrace a growth mindset, their employees report feeling far more empowered and committed; they also receive far greater organizational support for collaboration and innovation. In contrast, people at primarily fixed-mindset companies report more of only one thing: cheating and deception among employees, presumably to gain an advantage in the talent race.”

This basically means that in life, every individual who believes that their intelligence or abilities could be developed (a growth mindset) will outperform those who believed that their abilities or their intelligence is fixed (a fixed mindset). This theory is developed in Dweck’s book: Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. In the book, Dweck shows many exemples of people or companies having a growth or fixed mindset. She also that having a growth mindset is not only a question of making efforts but also of try new strategies and seeking input from others when one is stuck or unsuccessful. Everyone needs a repertoire of approaches—not just sheer effort—to learn and improve. According to Dweck, it is not about “Great effort! You tried your best!” but rather about “Let’s talk about what you’ve tried, and what you can try next.” (Carol Dweck, Carol Dweck Revisits the ‘Growth Mindset’, Education Week, September 22, 2015).

For Dweck, it is hard work but a useful exercise. Indeed, “individuals and organizations can gain a lot by deepening their understanding of growth-mindset concepts and the processes for putting them into practice. It gives them a richer sense of who they are, what they stand for, and how they want to move forward.”