Growth Versus Fixed Mindsets (and how to expand yours!)

Feb 8, 2023

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growth versus fixed mindset


Have you ever wanted to start something new or accomplish a big goal, but you found yourself getting overwhelmed and intimidated at just the thought of it?

It can be so difficult to take on goals without knowing how the outcome will turn out, but (spoiler alert!), growth and development don’t come from avoiding challenging tasks.

With a growth mindset, we are much more likely to challenge ourselves in order to achieve those big goals we have for ourselves.

On the other hand, a fixed mindset is a drain on growth as it holds us back from being open to change. To have a successful life and reach your full potential, it’s a must-do to recognize which mindset you currently are operating from; and to learn ways to cultivate a growth mindset.

This guide explores the differences between the two mindsets, provides insight into how to recognize which one you have and looks at how to cultivate a growth mindset for long-term success.

By embracing growth-oriented thinking, we open ourselves up to more opportunities that is sure to lead us closer toward our goals!

What is a Growth Mindset?

Have you ever found yourself stuck in a difficult situation? Maybe it’s a problem that, no matter how hard you try, you just can’t seem to solve.

When this happens, whether we realize it or not, our mindset is playing a critical part in the outcome. A growth mindset versus a fixed mindset might be the difference that allows us to move forward.

Carol Dweck is the Lewis & Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. She’s also considered one of the leading experts n the topic of growth mindset.

In this article from Harvard Business Review, she states that:

Individuals who believe their talents can be developed (through hard work, good strategies, and input from others) have a growth mindset. They tend to achieve more than those with a more fixed mindset (those who believe their talents are innate gifts). This is because they worry less about looking smart and put more energy into learning. When entire companies embrace a growth mindset, their employees report feeling far more empowered and committed; they also receive greater organizational support for collaboration and innovation.

Growth mindsets seek growth and progress while considering all options and listening to feedback; where fixed mindsets only expect one certain outcome and obsess about ‘being right’ all the time.

I highly recommend checking out Carol’s explanation!

Not Sure If You Have A Growth Or Fixed Mindset?

Ask yourself: Do I believe my potential is unlimited or finite? If the answer is unlimited, congratulations! You most likely have a growth mindset and will actively seek out solutions instead of giving up at the first sign of difficulty.

People with a growth mindset view challenge and failure as an opportunity for growth rather than something to be avoided or seen as a potential sign of personal inadequacy.

They believe that effort and perseverance will pay off and intentionally put themselves into situations where they can learn new things or take on new challenges.

A person with this outlook is much more likely to enjoy their life due to an increased sense of control over their internal environment.

What is a Fixed Mindset?

Those who see the world through a fixed mindset view their talents, skills and intelligence as set in stone, believing that success is limited by talent, luck or intelligence given at birth.

Instead of embracing challenges or setbacks as an opportunity to grow, these individuals focus on upholding what they already know – taking any failure straight to heart without allowing for room for growth.

And it’s a bummer because these limiting beliefs can hold them back from experiencing new opportunities that could significantly improve their lives!

People with a fixed mindset typically don’t push themselves to try new things or grow their skills. They are more likely to give up when faced with adversity due to these beliefs.

You can imagine it would be pretty difficult to move ahead or achieve your goals if you see yourself as unchanging and unable to improve! A growth mindset offers an alternative by allowing us all to believe we can improve our skills no matter who we are.

While growth may still occur for them in some areas, it’s typically far more limited than for those with a growth mindset who are committed to continued learning and growth.

How Do These Mindsets Affect Our Lives And The Way We Learn And Grow

Impactful and memorable, the differences between growth and fixed mindsets are like night and day.

A growth mindset means believing our brains can change and adapt over time, no matter where we start. This mindset has been found to improve our resilience when facing challenges, increase motivation, and help us keep going despite setbacks.

On the other end of the spectrum lies a fixed mindset — this is believing that our intelligence or talents are just what they are, set in stone since birth. Adopting this kind of thinking can lead to procrastination, lower performance, and less self-regulation over time than those with a growth mindset.

According to Mia Primeau at Stanford Report,

Research shows that mindsets play a significant role in determining life’s outcomes. By understanding, adapting and shifting your mindset, you can improve your health, decrease your stress and become more resilient to life’s challenges.

Ultimately, each type of mindset affects how we learn and grow in different ways. Whether you find yourself leaning more towards adopting either one or the other will likely depend on your experiences within life itself!

Benefits Of Having A Growth Mindset

Everyone has their own set of beliefs regarding personal development and success. However, having a growth mindset puts you in a healthier mental state compared to having a fixed one.

A growth mindset opens you up to new opportunities and encourages you to actively seek out ways to overcome challenges and grow. Through it, you can develop an optimistic view of life that sees failure as a learning opportunity and pushes you to be more creative in your solutions.

With this mindset, you can gain the courage to make decisions that align with your goals while also being open minded towards trying new things. You’ll enjoy the increased level of confidence in yourself that this brings, giving you the motivation needed to make progress in whatever it is that you are working on.

A growth mindset allows us to take greater risks and have more control over our lives; and its benefits definitely help make life much more enjoyable!

Developing a Growth Mindset in Yourself

It’s easy for anyone to get discouraged when faced with difficulties. That said, it can be really helpful – both for ourselves and others – to recognize that mistakes, failures or setbacks offer valuable lessons.

To develop and cultivate a growth mindset, it’s important to identify ways to handle challenging situations that don’t require giving up.

Taking the time to proactively think about what we can do when we’re facing challenging situations can be an awesome way to front load the energy and effort required to keep going when the going gets tough.

Finding positive ways to speak about challenges can also provide fuel for motivation by focusing on larger outcomes, instead of running at the first sign of effort or difficulty.

Developing a Growth Mindset in Others

When it comes to helping others develop a growth mindset, the key is to make sure that they are comfortable in taking risks and stepping out of their comfort zone.

Encouraging them with positive reinforcement when they make mistakes will ignite their courage and determination as well as demonstrate that failure can be used for learning.

By understanding that learning opportunities come from mistakes, we can look at them as chances to improve instead of signs of lack of capability. Reinforcing the fact that every experience will help shape their growth and progress; mistakes shouldn’t be perceived as inadequate or detrimental, but instead an opportunity for improvement.

Encouraging curiosity while engaging and supporting the person along their journey helps cultivate these growth opportunities and inspires those around us to reach beyond their original expectations, helping them to trust the process while persevering toward success.

Implementing Strategies for Long Term Changes in Your Mentality

Taking the time to analyze your current mindset and its effects can be a powerful step in improving your outlook.

Pay attention to the types of language you use and what emotions it brings up in yourself and others. Are they optimistic and encouraging? Try to cultivate an attitude of receptivity when dealing with difficult topics, rather than becoming closed-minded or judgemental.

Everyone has an opinion about success; however, it’s crucial to understand that success isn’t something you’re born with, but rather something you work toward and that can be achieved through practice, commitment and dedication.

Having the right mindset is a non-negotiable when going for a goal. People with a growth mindset are intrinsically motivated to pour their time, energy, and resources into mastering new skills while those with fixed mindsets place limits on themselves believing that talents are only acquired through genetics. To make permanent changes in your mentality, it’s important to understand that what matters the most is your approach toward life.

Looking at challenges as opportunities to learn and grow, you’re more likely to be willing to take risks and explore others’ constructive feedback. With a shift away from self-limiting beliefs and the implementation of strategies geared toward long-term growth, you can absolutely experience an incredible life!

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A growth mindset is a powerful tool for living with joy and fulfillment. It allows us to look at failure as an opportunity; and it helps cultivate intelligence, creativity and meaningful connection.

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