Growth mindset or fixed mindset—can the way we think about ourselves and our abilities shape our lives? Absolutely. The way we think about our intellect and talents not only affects the way we feel, it can also affect what we achieve, whether we stick to new habits, or if we will go on to develop new skills.
A growth mindset means that you believe your intelligence and talents can be developed over time. A fixed mindset means that you believe intelligence is fixed—so if you’re not good at something, you might believe you’ll never be good at it.
Growth vs. fixed mindsets for life
A fixed mindset: in this mindset, people believe that their intelligence is fixed and static.
A growth mindset: in this mindset, people believe that intelligence and talents can be improved through effort and learning.
People with a fixed mindset typically believe that their level of intelligence and abilities are innate. In Dr. Dweck’s own words, fixed mindset people believe that “they have a certain amount [of intelligence] and that's that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb”.
Science once told us that the human brain stops developing in childhood, however, we now know that the brain is constantly evolving and changing. Many parts of the brain respond to experiences and our ‘software’ can be updated through learning.
For people with a growth mindset, however, they understand that not knowing or not being good at something can be a temporary state—so they don’t have to feel ashamed or try to prove they’re smarter than they currently are. Dweck states that in a growth mindset, “students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching, and persistence.”
Do you have a ‘growth’ or a ‘fixed’ mindset?
What is a growth mindset?
A growth mindset views intelligence and talent as qualities that can be developed over time.
This doesn’t mean that people with a growth mindset assume that they could be the next Einstein—there are still variables in what we can all achieve. A growth mindset simply means that people believe their intelligence and talents can be improved through effort and actions.
A growth mindset also recognizes that setbacks are a necessary part of the learning process and allows people to ‘bounce back’ by increasing motivational effort.
This kind of mindset sees ‘failings’ as temporary and changeable, and as such, a growth mindset is crucial for learning, resilience, motivation, and performance.
Those who adopt a growth mindset are more likely to:
Embrace lifelong learning
Believe intelligence can be improved
Put in more effort to learn
Believe effort leads to mastery
Believe failures are just temporary setbacks
View feedback as a source of information
Willingly embraces challenges
View others’ success as a source of inspiration
View feedback as an opportunity to learn
What is a fixed mindset?
In a fixed mindset, people believe attributes, such as talent and intelligence, are fixed—that's to say, they believe they’re born with the level of intelligence and natural talents they’ll reach in adulthood.
A fixed-minded person usually avoids challenges in life, gives up easily, and becomes intimidated or threatened by the success of other people. This is in part because a fixed mindset doesn't see intelligence and talent as something you develop—it's something you "are".
Fixed mindsets can lead to negative thinking. For instance, a person with a fixed mindset might fail at a task and believe it's because they aren't smart enough to do it. Whereas a growth mindset person might fail at the same task and believe it's because they need to spend more time practicing.
People with a fixed mindset believe individual traits cannot change, no matter how much effort you put in, and are more likely to:
Believe intelligence and talent are static
Avoid challenges to avoid failure
Ignore feedback from others
Feel threatened by the success of others
Hide flaws so as not to be judged by others
Believe putting in effort is worthless
View feedback as personal criticism
Give up easily
Should you wish explore your own or your teams Mindset, then book an call with me to discuss how you can understand better your own Mindset. www.pwcoaching.net or 07488330389