Fixed Vs Growth Mindset

A fixed mindset is limiting, it avoids challenges and is threatened when others are successful. Those with a fixed mindset don’t see the point in putting forth effort because they view themselves as either naturally gifted at something or incapable of doing it.

A growth mindset, on the other hand, actively seeks out ways they can grow and improve themselves. They are always up for a challenge, especially if it means that will learn something along the way. They see themselves as ever growing and progressing. If they don’t know how to do something its only a matter of time for them to learn it.

The concept of growth mindset was first introduced by Dr. Carol Dweck, a professor at Stanford University. Her research looked into why some people fail while other people have a tendency for success. In a study of high school students, she found that when faced with a difficult challenge or a failure some of the students treated it as a learning experience. This attitude was further developed into the term known as growth mindset.

Dr. Dweck also looked into how to improve or encourage her newly discovered growth mindset. She found that it is better to praise the process, the work, persistence, and strategies that go into accomplishing something. It does not help to praise natural talent or abilities if they aren’t cultivated. To really develop a growth mindset one needs to constantly be looking for ways to improve.

When you look at your life you are likely to see that in some areas you express a growth mindset, but in others you have a more fixed mindset. This is completely normal, you’ll have areas where you are further along or have a better understanding. Your life not likely to be all fixed or all growth. You will have areas where more growth and other areas where more fixed. The goal is to recognize the areas where you have a growth mindset, determine how that mindset is different than the other areas, and then apply that to the areas where you have a fixed mindset. The tips provided here are to help you when you do recognize an area of your life where you’ve had a fixed mindset. Use them to not only recognize the mindset, but to move toward a growth mindset in all areas of your life.

Episode Breakdown

Differences Between Fixed And Growth Mindset

Attitude toward learning new skills and abilities.

The fixed mindset views abilities as something you are either talented at doing or you are not. They see themselves and others as either innately talented or unable to learn or perform the ability.

The growth mindset views abilities as skills that can be learned and enhanced. They see accomplished individuals as people who have put in the work to master a particular skill. The growth mindset will admit that there are people who are innately more talented than others but this does not mean someone without that innate talent cannot become skilled in that area.

Intelligence is a tricky area when looking at the differences in mindset because from the scientific standpoint it is the measure of a person’s ability to learn new things, however the common view of intelligence is how much a person knows. From the scientific definition of intelligence, it is not something that changes much throughout a person’s lifetime. Though a person can learn better ways of learning their capacity for it will not change. From the common definition though, knowledge and learning can grow and with a growth mindset a person will see their knowledge as something to continue to cultivate.

Where they put their focus.

A person with a fixed mindset will focus on the results and outcome of what they are doing. To them the outcome or result of their endeavors is tied directly to who they are as a person. Their identity is in what they accomplish.

A person with a growth mindset focuses on the process and on how much they can learn from what they are doing. They are not overly concerned about the outcome. They still like winning and will work hard, but they know that win or lose they will have learned and become better because of whatever it is they are doing.

Because the fixed mindset considers that the ends always justifies the means they are prone to cheating and deceptions. They have to win or be successful at any cost because the results are all that matter to them. Being less focused on the outcome leads those with a growth mindset to more collaboration with others as they are able to learn from each other. This collaborations further leads to greater innovation since they are not competing but growing.

Reception of mistakes and failures.

Fixed mindset will avoid errors or even the appearance of making a mistake. They will deny and even argue that they didn’t make a mistake. They are embarrassed to show any sign that they are not the best.

Growth mindset openly welcomes errors and mistakes. They see them as opportunities to learn and grow from their errors. They are more concerned with growing than appearing to already know it all.

Those with a fixed mindset ignore criticism, even constructive, helpful criticism. They can become defensive when given negative feedback or even blame others for the cause of the criticism.

Those with a growth mindset welcome feedback of any kind. They see criticism as a valuable part of the learning process that will help them to not make the same mistake the next time or to find a better way of doing something.

Responses to challenges.

The fixed mindset will run from and do their best to avoid any thing that challenges them. This can be challenges to their knowledge or authority or even challenges to help them grow.

The growth mindset embraces challenges as a way for them to push themselves harder. They view challenges as fun and exciting ways to learn from the experience.

A person with a fixed mindset will give up easily if something they are doing becomes too difficult. They are afraid of even the possibility of failure so if something becomes too difficult or too risky they will quit, defensively claiming they do not have the talent for that thing.

A person with a growth mindset perseveres when challenged beyond their ability. They enjoy difficulties and taking risks because they know that even if they fail they will be better because they learned from the experience.

Having new experiences.

The fixed mindset does not enjoy new experiences, they will avoid them if possible. New experiences are outside of their comfort zone where they have power.

The growth mindset not only embraces new experiences but they seek them out. They see experiences that push them out of their stagnation as a way to grow and gain power.

New experiences could lead to failure that those with a fixed mindset want to avoid at all cost. They will not do something that seems enjoyable because it is new and they may not be good at it. Those with a growth mindset are always out to grow and improve themselves. For them, new experiences provide a way to find and master new skills that they don’t already know.

Developing a Growth Mindset

Watch what you say and how you think about life, especially the challenging parts.

A negative inner voice hinders growth and causes you feel trapped or “fixed” in your thinking. Even what you say with your outer voice will start to impact your thoughts and how you view yourself.

Instead of viewing a difficult task as not possible because you don’t have the talent or ability to do it, say to yourself that you are finding difficult because your skills are still growing and you are learning. Employ the power word “yet”. When you want to say that you’re not good at something, don’t stop yourself just add the work “yet” after it. For example, “I’m not good at CSS…yet”.

It takes time and practice to get yourself into this type of thinking if you’ve been stuck in a fixed mindset. You’ll need to practice a lot of self awareness, but don’t beat yourself up if you struggle with it.

Develop a sense of purpose for your life.

If you feel that your life has a purpose then take time to define your purpose. Write it down, create a mission statement for your life where you have your purpose and all it encompasses. If you don’t have a purpose then spend some time reviewing the things that you value in life. List out your accomplishments and the direction your life has been heading to this point. From there you can start to define where you are going and for what reason.

Once you know your purpose and have it defined and documented, pursue it with vigor. Pursuit of your purpose will push you to grow and become better leading to a growth mindset. During your pursuit of your purpose make sure to value the process over the result. It is the journey that leads to growth and learning, not the final destination.

Build up your ability for self-acceptance and self-approval.

Avoid getting validation and approval from those around you. The need for external validation prevents you from fulling attaining a growth mindset. Start trusting in yourself and allowing yourself to provide approval and acceptance for the things you are doing. There is no one other than yourself whom you need to impress.

In doing this you’ll also stop pretending to be someone who you aren’t just to get approval from others. When you do this it doesn’t make them like you more, it actually makes you appear fake. The process to become authentic takes time and self awareness. You will need to do a lot of reflection on your motives and work on yourself, but the reward is that you will be free to pursue your actual goals.

Learn to run toward the challenging or painful tasks.

You may be scared of difficult or challenging situations. When they do come up take a moment and reframe the situation in your mind. Look at it as an opportunity instead of a potential for failure.

By shifting your perspective you will start to see challenges as learning experiences and ways to grow and better yourself. Don’t shy away from them but instead actively seek these challenges. It is one thing to reframe challenges when you are faced with them, but to really get into the growth mindset start looking for ways that you can be challenged. When given an options choose the harder, more difficult path that will teach you something.

Chasing challenges will require you to get out of your comfort zone. Seek out new experiences and things that make you slightly scared. Overcoming fears will amplify your growth and progress into the growth mindset.

Set yourself up for success by being realistic in your pursuit of growth.

It takes time to learn a new skill, don’t expect too much of yourself too quickly. The higher your goals are the longer it will take to get to them. Having big goals is a good thing. Break those bigger goals down to accomplishable tasks to give yourself a reward for your effort. This will help you from getting discouraged as you move toward your bigger goals.

You will struggle with some tasks, remind yourself that it is acceptable to not be good at it yet. You are still learning and growing. When learning something difficult it is rarely the breakthroughs that make the difference, it’s the consistency in regular practice that leads to the breakthroughs.

Get started with a Goldilocks task to motivate you to grow.

Every journey has to start somewhere. You want to start your journey toward a growth mindset at the right place with the right setup for you to push yourself and maintain motivation.

A Goldilocks task is something that you can do that will be challenging and push you but will not be too difficult to overcome. It is something that is just slightly beyond your current abilities. You want to find a task that is just outside of your comfort zone. This will be something that you have to research and maybe use trial and error to achieve.

Don’t choose too difficult a task to start, though. If it’s too easy you haven’t grown, but if it’s too difficult you may fall back into a fixed mindset and give up.

Allow yourself to fail, understanding it is part of the process.

You will fail, but it’s not the end of the world. Remind yourself that failure is part of the learning process, without failure you cannot grow. It’s easy to think that people will look down on your or will think you weak if you admit to failure. However, the opposite tends to be the case as people look up to those who are strong and confident enough to admit they are not perfect.

You are not perfect and hiding imperfections only makes you look conceited. It also prevents you from being able to really improve in your weaker areas. Acknowledge and accept your own imperfections so that you know where to focus your growth. In the same light, understand that others have imperfections too. Be patient with them, especially when they are working on improving themselves.

Seek out those who will give you feedback, positive and negative.

Getting feedback on finished work will help you to do better the next time. However, when you can get feedback during the process you are able to improve as you are working. Look for people in your life whom you trust and will give you constructive feedback. You want both positive and negative feedback from them, having only one or the other will not promote growth.

This can be difficult as criticism is hard to accept, especially when you’ve worked hard on something. Try to find the gift in criticism, that is it is meant to make you better. When criticized, instead of getting defensive thank the person for helping you see where you could improve. If they meant it as a way to help you improve they will be impressed you took it that way. If they meant it as an insult you will have turned it around on them.

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