Carol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success is based on a deceptively simple—yet powerful—premise. The central distinction she draws here isCarol Dweck’s Mindset: The New Psychology of Success is based on a deceptively simple—yet powerful—premise. The central distinction she draws here is directly relevant to any of us interested in teaching leadership. According to Dr. Dweck (a Stanford psychology professor), each of us adopts one of two mindsets about life: the fixed or growth mindset. People with fixed mindsets tend to see human potential as static and finite; people with growth mindsets see human potential as more dynamic and elastic. Obviously, those who believe that leaders are “born, not made” subscribe to the fixed mindset. Those of us sharing the gcLi’s core philosophy—i.e. that leadership can be taught—fall into the growth mindset camp.
When Dr. Deak compares neurological pathways to rubber bands, she invokes the growth mindset. Similarly, when a leadership scholar like Professor Ron Heifetz of Harvard distinguishes adaptive from technical leadership, his distinction implicitly entails growth vs. fixed mindsets too. Over the long haul, the more successful athletes, teachers, spouses, coaches, professionals and entrepreneurs naturally tend to manifest beliefs and behaviors characteristic of the growth mindset. Few of us are bound to enjoying playing or working for coaches or bosses with fixed mindsets. Dweck’s book is full of cautionary examples of those sorts of leaders (from the likes of the Enron executives to coaches like the mercurial—perhaps infamous—Bobby Knight).
These memorable, illustrative anecdotes are one of the signal strengths of Mindset. Many readers of this sort of literature are already well familiar with the process-oriented, growth-minded approaches of perennial champions like Michael Jordan or long-tenured UCLA basketball coach John Wooden. Both these remarkable competitors managed to achieve outstanding success in the win-loss column over long careers. But both considered winning merely an inevitable byproduct of their zealous pursuit of athletic excellence and their willingness to outwork their opponents. Seeking constant growth and improvement in their own teams’ abilities were Wooden’s and Jordan’s primary focus. By manifesting their growth mindsets this way, they were also able to accomplish unparalleled productivity and victorious results—but almost as an afterthought or matter of course.
Dweck and other similarly minded leadership scholars believe that leaders emerge naturally in organizations that prize learning and manifest pervasive growth mindsets. Her dichotomy also recalls James MacGregor Burns’s seminal distinction between “transactional” and “transforming” leadership. Transactional leaders—according to Burns—simply “exchange valued things” with their followers. They have a sort of quid pro quo arrangement, in which everyone’s needs and wishes get served despite possibly finite resources. Operating out of a growth instead of fixed mindset, by contrast, transforming leaders seek to enlarge the size of the relevant pie. Burns’s transforming leaders use mutual engagement between them and and their followers to enhance their collective potential, thus raising the possibilities for all.
Dweck closes her analysis by pointing out that we each can choose which mindset we embody from moment to moment. Her final chapter, for instance, offers a sort of self-guided workshop or tutorial one might follow to work on changing one’s primary (default) mindset. By showing how many contexts in which mindsets profoundly affect one’s experiences, prospects for success, satisfaction in life, or the quality of one’s relationships, Dr. Dweck offers her readers a simple, broadly significant insight. ...more
I just happened across a cool passage from DKG's book discussing how Abe L once "cleverly mollified both wings of his divided party" (p. 588). This secI just happened across a cool passage from DKG's book discussing how Abe L once "cleverly mollified both wings of his divided party" (p. 588). This section describes AL's writing a letter to a partisan correspondent in which he explains: "I hope to 'stand firm' enough not to go backward, and yet not go forward fast enough to wreck the country's cause." Lincoln's approach here reminds me of how much I value leadership scholar & professor Ron Heifetz's commitment to practicing "adaptive leadership" by "modulating provocations." Apparently, Pres. L was a master at this fine art of "regulating the heat." Rather than getting too personally embroiled in & upset by philosophical conflicts, he seemed able to retain some degree of distance & objectivity. (Heifetz calls this discipline the ability to "observe oneself & others from the balcony." As DKG explains this characteristic of Honest Abe's on p. 609: "Lincoln's ability to retain his emotional balance in such difficult situations was rooted in an acute self-awareness & an enormous capacity to dispel anxiety in constructive ways" (p. 609)....more
Wow! This one's a keeper!! It's been getting some awesome reviews, so I came at it w/ pretty high hopes. Happily, A's & O's lived up to--even exceeWow! This one's a keeper!! It's been getting some awesome reviews, so I came at it w/ pretty high hopes. Happily, A's & O's lived up to--even exceeded--all this hype.
Brenner is a professional journalist. So her prose can be powerfully clear, succinct, concise. But what's especially cool about this memoir is how she appears (more transparently) as a character as well as a participant-observer in this engrossing narrative.
One of the haunting mantras or refrains of Brenner's life (& her relationship w/ her estranged brother) is: "Sometimes you do not get to understand everything." Nevertheless, she comes at least close to understanding a whole lot. And she is willing to draw wisdom & insight from wherever she can possibly glean it.
I appreciate her humility, candor, & authentic vulnerability as much as her insatiably, omnivorously curious mind. She understands--to her core--that we all have "shadow sides."
So--perhaps especially?!--do most of our families.
I was lucky to pick up my copy of Apples and Oranges right before a 3-hour plane trip. So I got to read it in one swell foop--in just a single sitting. For those 3 hours, I was utterly transported into the life of the Brenners--particularly her vexing, complex relationship w/ her older bro (w/ its "mixture of hate and love, rage and need, all scrambled together"). I couldn't put it down.
A's & O's may be mostly about Marie & Carl. Yet it also incisively explores how/why families are (multi-generational) holons--or organic systems w/ parallel processes, permeable boundaries, and all of the things that make human groups as fascinating as they are frustrating.
Our family "wholes" always entail so much more than just the sum of our family "parts." If you happen to have grown up in a family yourself--or are a member of one (or more!) now, you might find some haunting resonance in this remarkably honest account....more
Common Fire is a scintillating work--but I'm not sure it's (ENTIRELY) aptly named. The "Fire" part seems to me entirely appropriate, for this book isCommon Fire is a scintillating work--but I'm not sure it's (ENTIRELY) aptly named. The "Fire" part seems to me entirely appropriate, for this book is positively pyrotechnic in its passion and pizzazz! On the other hand, its approach and content are FAR FROM "Common." This book is a masterful synthesis of wit and wisdom. It combines impeccable intellectual and academic credentials with a profoundly spiritual sense of consciousness. It taps and appeals to both the heart AND the mind. In other words, it plumbs the depth of our souls.
Citing scholars as diverse as Ronald Heifetz (of Leadership W/out Easy Answers), Robert Kegan (of In Over Our Heads), Nel Noddings (of Caring: A Feminine Approach to Ethics & Moral Education), Robert Bellah et al. (of Habits of the Heart), Robert Putnam (of Bowling Alone), Lev Vygotsky (of Thought and Language), Cornel West (of Race Matters, etc.), Erik Erikson, Thich Nhat Hanh, Peter Senge (of The 5th Discipline), and Garrett Hardin (who wrote the seminal essay: "The Tragedy of the Commons")--as well as MANY others, Common Fire touches its readers in remarkably nuanced and incisive ways.
The book chronicles the lives of actual people who are extraordinarily committed to serving the common/public good. These (auto)biographical sources lend the book an air of practical, non-fictional, personal authority. The "subjects" of the authors' study thus come across with all their human subjectivity, diversity, and individuality intact. But the book is also carefully enough researched, and thoroughly enough informed, that it conveys a more sweeping sense of "objective truth," as well. Perhaps that's because its authors understand and appreciate paradox, mystery, etc.
Dialectiticians at heart, they see the world thru' a subtle lens of dialectical sophistication & perspicacity. Moreover, their lyrical, compelling prose makes it a veritable page-turner. This book is engrossing. Once it entranced me within its seductive clutches, I couldn't put it down. When I finally finished it, I felt CHANGED, renewed, inspired in a way books rarely make me feel. Common Fire demonstrates the power of "constructive engagement with otherness," of the transcendent joy and possibilities of "living within and beyond our respective tribes," of "developing critical habits of mind, a responsible imagination," and "struggling with human fallibility."
SOMETHING has made you investigate this book thus far. I recommend your continuing to follow WHATEVER cosmic force is drawing you thither: So now you have only to go get your hands on this book in order to feel its promethean spark!...more
Ron Heifetz is clearly one of the seminal leadership scholars, practitioners, and teachers in the field today. This superb volume, by Sharon Daloz ParRon Heifetz is clearly one of the seminal leadership scholars, practitioners, and teachers in the field today. This superb volume, by Sharon Daloz Parks, takes off from where his two previous books (Leadership Without Easy Answers and Leadership On the Line) leave off. Leadership Can be Taught" takes its readers through Heifetz's Harvard Business School course "PAL 101--Exercising Leadership: Mobilizing Group Resources."
For those of us who have studied Heifetz's two previous books and taken courses modeled off his HBS course (as I did at Columbia Teachers College almost a decade ago), LCBT provides an excellent refresher. My Columbia TC Professor (who must have TA'd for Heifetz when she was teaching at Harvard's Graduate School of Education) ran an outstanding version of his course in her own right.
Using all of Heifetz's key principles and pedagogical techniques (and a very similar curriculum), she put us through our paces in teaching leadership "adaptively." It was a watershed learning experience of invaluable practical value to me. Although my field is leadership development in secondary-school education (for both teachers and students), I borrow heavily from Heifetz's theory and work at the graduate level.
Although I doubt they were intended this way, I see these 3 works as a sort of trilogy on adaptive leadership. Heiftez's "Leadership On the Line" (co-written with Marty Linsky) is probably the most accessible of the three: clearly the place for any reader to start learning about H's powerful approach. "Leadership Without Easy Answers" is the most scholarly and thoroughly developed (with extensive historical examples, etc.).
Daloz Parks's "LCBT" concentrates on Heifetz's leadership course itself. What is the experience of taking it like for his students? How do--or don't--its lessons stick with them as they resume their professional lives?
Daloz Parks's answers to these questions are balanced, fair, accurate, and leavened with plenty of anecdotal evidence. We get glimpses of classroom interactions, and we hear Professor Heifetz speaking quite candidly about the advantages--as well as challenges--of his dynamic educational approach.
Any serious scholar or teacher of leadership MUST peruse this product of the Harvard Business School Press. One of the beauties of Heifetz's approach is that it works in virtually any area: from business, to education, to public service, etc. Its principles apply equally in the commercial and not-for-profit sectors.
In sum, I can't recommend "Leadership Can be Taught" highly enough to leaders and/or faculty in leadership-development programs of all stripes. Sharon Daloz Parks has done us all a great service in recording the impact of Heifetz's work on those fortunate enough to study with the master himself!...more