Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset

The mind is a powerful thing. Sometimes the biggest obstacle to our success is our own thinking. Our mindset can limit us or set us free. No one understands this quite like Carol Dweck, a Stanford University researcher best known for her work on fixed and growth mindsets and her groundbreaking book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. At Mind Strength, we work a lot with our clients to help them develop a growth mindset.


The Difference Between a Growth Mindset and a Fixed Mindset

Dweck describes the difference between a fixed mindset vs. growth mind as the following:

‘In a fixed mindset (individuals) believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that's that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset (individuals) understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don't necessarily think everyone's the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.’

A growth mindset is advantageous when making your way through life. Someone with a growth mindset will not hesitate to try again where they once failed. Failures are perceived as temporary setbacks rather than permanent limits. Rather than striving for approval from others those with a growth mindset develop a passion for lifelong learning. As a result, those with a growth mindset are more likely to maximise their potential.

Transitioning to a Growth Mindset

One of the hardest parts of changing your mindset is identifying what your current mindset is. Sometimes we sabotage our own potential without even realising it. Some of our longstanding beliefs about ourselves, such as ‘I am not athletic’ or ‘I am not good with technology’, may have their roots in our childhood and be holding us back as adults. Not only does this prevent us from learning new skills in the short-term, but in the long-term.

Here are seven tips for approaching life with a growth mindset:

1. Focus on the process rather than the result

When embarking on learning anything new it can seem like we have so much ground to cover that it is intimidating. Rather than focusing on the end result break it up into a series of smaller goals to achieve along the way. Focus on learning new things well rather than quickly.

2. View challenges as opportunities

Whenever we begin to learn anything new there are bound to be challenges. Facing these challenges and framing them as opportunities is vital when taking on a growth mindset. Our fear of facing new challenges is most often rooted in our fear of failure. As much as we may want to change it feels safer to continue down our usual path, make excuses and remain in our comfort zones. Overcoming this internal resistance is essential to personal growth and success.

3. Stop seeking approval from others

Your goal when learning new things should be to better yourself for your own benefit without worrying what other people may think.

4. Acknowledge your weaknesses

Even the most successful people on the planet have weaknesses. By acknowledging and embracing our weaknesses we give ourselves the opportunity to improve on them and set more realistic goals.

5. Take criticism constructively

While criticism is often viewed negatively it is often one of our best sources of feedback. Being made aware of our faults allows us to take note and improve. When you take on a growth mindset you will not take criticism as personally.

6. Take time to reflect

Don’t forget to look back on what you have learned and acknowledge your own progress. A journal is a great way to record your thoughts and reflect on what you have accomplished.

7. View learning as a lifelong journey

You will always be learning no matter how old or successful you become. Once you have accomplished one goal you should be prepared to start on another.


Developing a growth mindset requires a commitment to changing your beliefs about your own talents and abilities and making room for continuous growth. A growth mindset will enable you to stay motivated by looking at the big picture behind your choices and be less easily discouraged.