Archive for June, 2007


Mindset and metaphors

I usually wait until I’m done with a book to share my thoughts but this time I may have extracted my biggest insight within the first ten pages.

Mindset: The New Psychology of SuccessThe book: Mindset by Carol Dweck. The epiphany: it isn’t about nature versus nurture — it is about what metaphor you choose for your life.

I had seen a few interviews with Dweck, noted the idea of her two mindsets (fixed versus growth), nodded my agreement and went on with life. I figured I was in good shape since I have a stereotypical growth mindset (said in fixed language!).

Within the introduction of her book Dweck (unintentionally) opened up a whole new way for me to make use of her mindsets theory. She was talking about how nature and nurture are intertwined — that genetics need behaviors to manifest, etc. — and something she said triggered a realization. It doesn’t seem to matter whether we are driven by genes or environment — what matters is whether we act as if we are driven by the “hand we’ve been dealt” (fixed) or we act as if we are driven to the places we wish to be (growth).

The part of this epiphany that really struck home for me was that this is one more metaphor within which we can live our lives (and I’m a big fan of metaphors). One of the wonderful things about metaphors is that we can leave the discussion of truth to the philosophers and just look at how our beliefs influence our lives.

So, how have you chosen to grow today?

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Reading, Writing, and … Freakonomics?

I have only read one book completely over the last week. I’ve been busy re-reading, reviewing notes, and writing. You’ll get a chance to see what I’ve been working on very soon. Until then here is another review.

Freakonomics [Revised and Expanded]: A Rogue Economist Explores the Hidden Side of EverythingFreakonomics by Levitt and Dubner brings together a rouge economist and a journalist to present some random observations on life — with a look at how to answer semi-random questions using economic methodologies. As
(un)exciting as that sounds the authors do a spectacular job of making it interesting, enlightening, and intriguing.

Steven and Stephen explore a number of odd questions such as if drug dealers make so much money why do they still live with their mothers? The power of this book is less in the specific answers to questions than in the act of answering them.

Several “tricks” of Levitt’s methodology in answering these questions involve forming answerable questions and “teasing” answers out of the available data. The former involves causality versus correlation, the latter involves flexibility of thinking. If nothing else this book drives home the fact that truth is stranger than fiction and that you really can do fun things if you’re a mathemagician (sic).

As an arbitrary bonus: this was the second book in the span of a week that used the word gubernatorial — which I though was (intentional) gibberish the first time I saw it.

Stay tuned for the next round of books up for review.

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