Thank you. Your book Mindset has been an inspiration. Its not simply given me the opportunity to learn about myself and my relationship with other people, but its allowed me to view different aspects of my life with a growth mindset. I was actually on a trip to Maine this past week, and every so often, I'd hear a fixed mindset remark made by one of my family member. I often found myself telling them to stop for a moment and rethink the situation with a growth mindset. They didn't really understand what I meant by this, and they kept asking me why I had this whole "growth mindset" concept stuck in my head. My answer was simple, I told them to read your book.
Ever since my parents got divorced, I've had a tough relationship with my father, therefore, I was able to identify very well with the story you told about your mother. For a long time now, I've found myself pushing my dad away because with all honesty, it's been easier to simply show him my bitterness than to try and fix things with someone who I thought was simply incapable of change.
Your book taught me differently.
It has showed me that we all have a potential for change, but this potential only exists if the person is willing to change. Whether my dad is willing to do so is out of my control. I can't change who he is, the way he acts, or the decisions he makes, but I can change who I am and as you did with your mother, I can control my half of the relationship. By doing so, despite what he chooses to do, I've come to realize that at least I can look back, years from today, and say that I tried.
One of the things you mentioned throughout your book was how many people believe that intelligence is static, and as a result, they view effort as something fruitless. I was actually one of these people, I believed that intelligence was fixed, but unlike what you mentioned in your book, that's exactly why I saw so much value in effort.
I've never been very good at math. Throughout middle school and half of high school I didn't even try to improve. When I reached eleventh grade, however, I decided to begin doing my homework and start studying for my tests. My grades improved and I actually began to understand the concepts we were learning, but until about yesterday (when I finished your book), if someone were to ask me how good I was at math, I would have said that I'm no good at all.
Although I knew and recognized that effort was the key to success, and thus have always put forth a lot of effort in almost anything that I do, I never believed that this effort was actually allowing me to form new and quicker connections in my brain and thus, make my intelligence "grow".
Your book changed my mindset.
Reading about students that had failed public school and that were told they were "retarded", to reading about how those same students read twenty three books over the summer and went up three reading levels in less than a year, proved to me that intelligence is not static. I was so amazed, that I actually found myself highlighting all of these sections and writing "WOW" next to each of them!.
Although I'm not a teacher or a parent, one of the parts from your book that I found most interesting was how teachers and parents should move away from praising intelligence and move towards praising ability. Telling kids that the perfect score they received on their test proves how smart they are simply pushes kids into a fixed mindset. It makes them believe that their intelligence is reflected by their grades, and thus, it stops them from taking risks and challenging themselves because they feel that if they fail, they are a failure. If they fail, they are no longer smart. By praising ability, on the other hand, you teach a kid to believe that his success is a result of the effort he puts in. You teach him to build a resilience to failure because he sees failure as part of the process, not as something that defines him. And most importantly, you teach students to believe that "leadership is about growth and passion, not about brilliance."
The reason this concept really stuck to me was because it showed me what type of culture we have in the Innovation Academy, one that as you mentioned, praises the development of ability. In the IA, being a talented writer, a creative media wiz, or a business expert, doesn't necessarily mean you will achieve the highest mark in those classes. Unlike the grades I receive for my IB classes, where achievement and effort are two different grades, but where only the achievement portion has an effect on your overall GPA, in the IA, our grades represent where we stand in each course--our ability--but also how much effort we've put into the development of our skills within each of these courses--the development of our ability. As a result, we don't simply praise ability, but we value effort. We're not afraid of making mistakes because we understand that failure is part of success, and thus, we are always pushing ourselves to learn more.
I'm sorry that this letter has gotten a bit long, but I just wanted to let you know how much of an impact your book has had on me. The amount of research you conducted, the time you must have dedicated, and the honesty you portrayed through the examples you gave made your book extremely credible, and it made me really believe in the benefits of having a growth mindset. More so, however, it's given me the necessary information and tools to know how to work towards viewing certain fixed aspects of my life with a growth mindset. I know this is probably just one more fan mail, but I just wanted to take the time to say thank you.