SEAP Book Club Event Report: MindSet presented by Gireendra Kasmalkar

(This is a live-blog of the SEAP Book Club meeting that happened on 4th Feb at Sungard Aundh. Gireendra Kasmalkar, MD & CEO of SQS India, talked about a book called “Mindset – The Psychology of Success.” The contents of this post are not directly related to technology, however, it is published on PuneTech since this was a SEAP meeting, and most of the people attending were senior members from Pune’s IT industry. Hence, we felt that it would be of interest to PuneTech readers to get an idea of what senior member of SEAP are talking about. Please note: this is a partial and incomplete account of what Gireendra talked about, and possibly has my biases. Also, since it is a live-blog, it will ramble a little and might contain errors.)

There are two different mindsets for humans: Fixed Mindset and Growth Mindset. People with a fixed mindset use events as opportunities for assessment and validation of what they’re already doing. Those with a growth mindset use events as an opportunity to learn. Thus, the potential of a person with a fixed mindset is known, whereas the potential of a person with growth mindset is not only unknown, but also unknowable.

The key difference between the fixed mindset and growth mindset is how they think about natural talent vs effort. In general, as a society, we tend to value natural talent, and effortless accomplishment. But what’s so heroic about having a gift? Effort ignites ability and turns it into accomplishment. Note: just because someone is talented and can accomplish things effortlessly, it does not mean that we should think less of them. But we shouldn’t give them more credit just because they did it effortlessly.

A person with a fixed mindset thinks that if you need to put in effort then you’re not talented. And they are terrified of putting in an effort, because what if you fail even after put in effort? Thus, failure is a setback, and they tend to blame it on someone else. On the other hand success is about being gifted and is validation of being smart. They have a sense of entitlement. They get a thrill from doing things that are easy for them, and their self-esteem comes from being better than others.

By contrast, a person with a growth mindset thinks of effort as the main driver of success. They are terrified by the idea of not capitalizing on opportunities. Failure does hurt them, but it does not define them. It is taken as an opportunity to learn and improve. So success is about putting effort and stretching yourself, thrills come from doing hard things, and self-esteem come from being better than yesterday.

So, in the long term, growth mindset brings more success, and also helps you stay at the top.

Benjamin Bloom studied 120 outstanding achievers over 40 years. After 40 years of research, they concluded that it is not possible to predict future achievement of a person from current abilities. Basically, that their research showed is that if one person can learn something then any other person can learn the same thing given appropriate prior and current conditions of learning (except for 2% of extremely gifted or extremely impaired people.)

Not performing up to standards should be seen as an indicator for further learning.

Psychological research shows that people who are told they were brilliant become more conservative (because they want to conserve their “brilliant” image) whereas people who are praised for their effort put in more effort the next time.

Bottomline: negotiators, managers, leaders are made not born. Any ability, including artistic ability can be learnt. And does not really take very long to learn.

Failure is the key to learning, and achievement, and ultimate success. J.K. Rowling, author of the Harry Potter books, gave a great commencement speech at Harvard talking about The Fringe Benefits of Failure, and the Importance of Imagination. The basic claim is that success in school/college, resulting in a well paying job, is actually a deterrent to success – because you will no longer be willing to leave your comfort zone and take risks. Nitin Deshpande of Allscripts talks about an incident from the early part of his career: a person who was considering offering a partnership to Nitin asked Nitin whether he had ever failed at anything in life, and when Nitin said that he hadn’t really failed at anything, he was told that he was not qualified to be a partner.

Final thoughts:

  • If you think: “This is hard. This is fun,” then you have a growth mindset, and you’ll do well
  • Categorize people as learners and non-learners (instead of successes and failures.)
  • A fixed mindset will limit what you can achieve with your ability, whereas a growth mindset will help you realize the full potential.
  • You can and should train yourself to get into a growth mindset

3 thoughts on “SEAP Book Club Event Report: MindSet presented by Gireendra Kasmalkar

  1. Very nicely written. Thanks Navin. I also had a theory similar to the on you mention, “The basic claim is that success in school/college, resulting in a well paying job, is actually a deterrent to success – because you will no longer be willing to leave your comfort zone and take risks”. Feels good to see J. K. Rowling saying the same thing.

  2. Brilliant write up Navin, it was very inspiring and eye opener to our attitudes and beliefs. I will certainly try and catch a copy of the book. Thank you !!

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