Fixed Versus Growth Mindset
The importance and role of your mindset, which is a combination of your values, beliefs, and attitude, has been examined by many over the years. In 2006, a Stanford university professor named Carol Dweck published a groundbreaking book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, which explained how your outlook plays a significant role in your success and happiness. She determined through her research that we all have a mindset that lies somewhere between two attitudes on the learning continuum.
What is a Growth Mindset?
As Dweck defined it, the growth mindset is one that believes that the talents and strengths you have can be developed continually throughout your lifetime. Learning happens as a result of practice, explicit effort, vicarious learning, and hard work. When Dweck proposed this mindset, it was in contrast with long-held notions that talents and traits, including intelligence, were innate and remained mostly fixed from birth.
A growth-oriented outlook helps you identify your personal strengths as well as identify room for growth and the ways you need to improve yourself in order to achieve your goals. After 30 years in the learning community, froth mindset has become firmly embraced by not only schools but also companies, organizations, life coaches, and those focused on personal fulfillment. Having a growth mindset empowers you to take control of your own life, realize your dreams, and improve yourself in ways that are personally meaningful to you.
The Difference Between Fixed and Growth Attitudes
This positive, growth-oriented attitude is contrasted with a more fixed view of learning. The fixed mindset believes that you are born with all the talents, gifts, traits, and capabilities you will ever have, which means that attempting to grow and change is fruitless. Those with this way of thinking about themselves and the world often find that they must prove themselves to others or compete because they value only showing their capabilities, not improving them. When you do not believe you can grow your character, intelligence, or talents, you tend to focus on ways to demonstrate what you already know.
There are many ways to see the differences between these ways of looking at yourself and the world. To summarize, here are some examples of how the two mindsets approach life or consider problems.
• The growth mindset finds lessons and inspiration in the successes of other people, while the fixed mindset feels threatened by others’ success.
• The growth mindset learns from criticism while the fixed mindset ignores this feedback because they do not believe they have anything to learn from it.
• The growth mindset desires to learn while the fixed mindset just wants to look smart to others.
• The growth mindset is able to see the bigger picture when seeking solutions to problems while the fixed mindset blames others, feels sorry for themselves, or only focuses on the negative in a situation.
• The growth mindset persists in the face of setbacks while the fixed mindset gives up easily.
• The growth mindset takes responsibility for their own learning while the fixed mindset ignores opportunities and seeks out distractions.
The differences between these two ways of thinking are best seen in how you deal with setbacks, your level of effort to reach a goal, and your views on challenges. But your way of thinking about yourself and learning can influence everything from the goals you set to the people you spend time with to your overall happiness and success in life. Learning to adopt a more growth-oriented way of thinking can help you embrace the power of learning and achieve your dreams in life.
6 Key Benefits of Adopting the Growth Mindset
Your mindset controls how you view yourself, others, and the world. It manages your ability to grow and change, whether you realize your dreams, and how you control your life and destiny. Your mindset determines whether you develop throughout your life or if you remain fixed in your development and traits. Adopting a growth mindset is one of the most positive things you can do for yourself, but what exactly are the benefits of taking this outlook? Here are just a few.
Growth Thinking Boosts Your Confidence
Setbacks and challenges are much more likely to undermine your confidence and set you on a path to struggle with a fixed mindset. Those who embrace learning can look at adversity as an opportunity to improve themselves, which boosts their confidence by enhancing their competence. Because growth thinking helps you see the value in opportunities, you are more likely to learn from all experiences, even those that others might view as unfavorable.
Growth Strengthens Your Relationships
Those with a fixed way of viewing themselves and the world often struggle with long-term or intimate relationships because they often expect perfection from others or value how others make them feel. With a growth outlook, you recognize that you are not perfect, nor should you expect your partner to be. You strive to be a better person for yourself as well as those you love, and over time, this can help you change in ways that benefit your relationship. You are also willing to allow your partner to strive to improve themselves.
You Will Gain Better Insight into Yourself Through Growth Thinking
Being able to focus on growth means that you can evaluate your strengths and struggles well, identify ways to improve yourself, and set goals for yourself that are aligned to your values. Through growth thinking, you learn to evaluate your capabilities and clarify your dreams, which enables you to set a course for your life that is more likely to result in joy and success.
You Can Have More Fun in Life with a Growth Mindset
When you do not think that you have anything to learn in life, why would you bother to try new things, do something just for fun, or experiment with your choices? When you stop fearing “looking dumb” or worrying that you will not be good at something, you can start doing things just because they sound exciting or because they are fun to try. It does not matter if you are not “good” at something with a growth mindset, because if it is something you find you like doing, you can always get better at it later.
Growth Thinking Helps You Let Go of Perfectionism
Those who are fixed in their thinking worry a lot about perfection. Because life is just a series of tests of your current capacity, you need to be “on” always, to be at your best consistently. A growth mindset allows you to see that no one is perfect, that we all have room for improvement. But, fixed ways of thinking focus on how the world is measuring or judging your innate gits, which can block your willingness to experiment, show vulnerability, or take risks.
You Can Reframe Setbacks and Challenges
When you are stuck in fixed ways of viewing yourself, you are likely very frustrated by setbacks or avoid challenges that might point out your lack of skills or weaknesses. However, a growth-oriented attitude helps you see these types of adversity of useful and full of information that can inform your development. For those with a fixed mindset, challenges can deter motivation, but when you focus on growth, they can actually improve your willingness to work hard.
5 Ways to Implement the Growth Mindset Today
Researchers and psychologists have been studying the influence of mindset on learning and personal fulfillment for decades. Based on over 30 years of research, Carol Dweck formulated a theory of mindset that states that we all lean toward one of two primary mindsets.
• The fixed mindset us one that believes our talents and traits are innate, they are determined at birth, and they do not develop much over our lifetimes.
• In contrast, a growth mindset believes that all our abilities, skills, and traits can be developed throughout our lives, which means learning occurs at all stages of living.
Those who embrace a growth outlook have the capacity to positively change their lives at any age. They recognize that learning opportunities exist in all that we do, and they learn to set higher goals for themselves, which allows them to live their dreams and come closer to self-actualization.
To implement a growth mindset, you need regular practice of attitude and behavior that, over time, can change how you see the world. Here are five ways you can start cultivating your growth mindset today.
#1. Adopt a Positive Outlook
Those with a growth-oriented attitude consider opportunities instead of challenges, learning experiences instead of failure. A positive outlook on life helps you see possibilities where others see obstacles and value the struggles in life, which have a great deal to teach you. A positive attitude enables you to look past the negative outcomes in situations and embrace the possibilities that exist.
#2. Stop Avoiding Challenge
To embrace the growth mindset, you have to be open to challenges, setbacks, and adversity. That means saying “yes” to challenging tasks, new experiences, and activities outside of your comfort zone.
Those who avoid challenge lose the ability to persist, to exercise self-discipline, and to strengthen the skills necessary for problem-solving. Instead of avoiding challenge, walk toward it. The more you embrace these opportunities, the more you will reap the benefits they have to offer your life.
#3. Celebrate Your Hard Work and Successes
To start embracing new opportunities and trying new things, you have to believe in your own capabilities and talents. To boost your confidence, you need to recognize the challenging work you put into your goals, celebrate the milestones and intermediate successes you have along the way, and honor your strengths and talents. Remembering past achievements and accomplishments enhances your ability to learn and keeps you focused on the positive benefits of your hard work.
#4. Practice Self-Awareness
To improve your growth and personal development, it is helpful to know how your thoughts, actions, and beliefs are affecting your success and happiness. Self-awareness helps you identify areas for growth, realize which strengths you have to build on, and what your important goals and values are. Pay attention to how you talk to yourself and others, how you describe learning, the biases or preconceived notions you may have, and how your mindset and habits affect your ability to accomplish your goals.
#5. Reconsider Your Position on Failure
Most people have an extremely negative attitude about failure. They assume it says something significant about them, that it is something that will “mark” them forever, and that it is something to fear or avoid at all costs.
You must see failure as a stepping stone, a learning opportunity and welcome failures for all you can learn from them and therefore grow.
In reality, failure is simply information about what did not work, which is why you need to adopt a more positive outlook about it. Author and fitness expert Fred DeVito summed this thought up nicely when he said, “If it doesn’t challenge you, it doesn’t change you.”
5 Ways to Boost Your Personal Growth Efforts
Learning to improve yourself and grow personally is a journey that takes time and effort. Personal growth happens because of continual changes to practice, but sometimes, these efforts can feel like they are not really leading anywhere or that your development has stalled out over time. If your personal growth practices need a jump-start or a boost to get you back on track, we offer these five tips for enhancing your goals toward personal fulfillment.
Tip #1. Get a Mentor
Mentors are great for teaching you things you do not already know, giving you advice on how to get moving, and offering alternative perspectives on your ideas or problems. You can find mentors in lots of places, including among your friends, family, and co-workers. But you may want to look further afield, including at leaders or others in your community who you admire. You can even offer to work or volunteer for someone from whom you would like to learn.
Tip #2. Travel as Much as Possible
Travel has so many benefits to your mental and emotional well-being, and it is an excellent catalyst for personal growth. When you are constantly surrounded by others who have the same beliefs and thoughts as you, you are not challenged to grow or evolve. When you travel, whether internationally or even locally, you are exposed to new ideas and people, and you learn through new experiences. Travel does not have to cost a lot to be meaningful and educational, either.
Tip #3. Make Reflection an Everyday Habit
If you want to jump-start your personal development work, you need to get into the habit of daily reflection, because this is your chance to regularly evaluate what you are learning and what efforts are working. Reflection helps you identify where you need to improve as well as illustrate your strengths, which you can use to help you grow and learn. Without reflection, you will not really know what needs focus and where you are thriving in your life.
Tip #4. Get Creative
Creative pursuits are an excellent way to activate new pathways in your brain, to make learning feel exciting, and to boost your growth. Finding a creative outlet for your thoughts and feelings gives you a productive way to share part of you with the world, and artistic and crafty endeavors use parts of your brain you do not use in daily life. Painting, sculpture, poetry, photography, crafts, woodworking, sewing, and ceramics are all examples of creative activities that can ignite your mind and get you excited about learning.
Tip #5. Measure Your Successes
When you are trying to change yourself and grow, it is crucial to know how well your efforts are working. Finding ways to measure your progress is crucial. Measuring personal growth may sound tricky, but it does not have to be. Think about tallying the new habits you are adopting and how frequently you are doing them. Think about measuring how many times in a day you can get negative thinking back on track. Measure your growth in ways that make sense for you, but be sure you know where you are making progress. When you notice that things are stalling out, that is valuable feedback that should drive your future efforts.
No matter what, remember that personal development takes time and patience, so be gentle and kind to yourself, as well. Remember that no one makes significant, lasting change overnight, and focus on making small, incremental changes every day that lead you a little closer to who you want to become.
5 Ways a Fixed Mindset Limits You In Life
Psychologist Carol Dweck has become widely known as a result of her work in outlining and understanding the growth mindset and the fixed mindset. Additionally, her work has aimed to explain the impact both mindsets can have on the individuals who possess them, as well as the individuals who consistently engage with those who possess either mindset.
Those with a growth mindset tend to take more risks, embrace feedback from others, and value the process over the end result, as they understand that critical learning and development typically takes place during the process. Meanwhile, those with a fixed mindset tend to stray away from risks, perceive feedback from others as negative, and place more significance on the final product as opposed to the process.
Why does any of this matter, you may be asking yourself? It matters because the type of mindset one carries significantly shapes the potential one reaches within their life. While there are various negative impacts a fixed mindset can have, this article outlines five specific limitations of a fixed mindset.
Low Self-Esteem & Depression
The research of Carol Dweck and her colleagues via several studies uncovered a link between fixed mindsets and a person’s likelihood to have low self-esteem or depression. A series of studies uncovered that the more fixed the mindset of a person was, the more likely they were to remember negative events. It was this memory of negative events that led to an increase in helplessness which made way for increased reports of depression (Growth mindset associated with various positive outcomes (competence, relatedness, learning, vitality, adjustment), 2012). Another set of studies examined the link between mindsets and goal setting. Studies showed that those with fixed mindsets established validation goals that focus on being acknowledged by others for being good. Meanwhile, those with a growth mindset tended to establish growth goals, which focus on trying to learn and make progress.
The conclusion drawn was that those with validation goals became more depressed the less they participated in problem-solving in response to negative circumstances as a result of their fixed mindset. The opposite was seen in those with a growth mindset and subsequently growth goals. They leaned towards more problem solving when faced with negative circumstances which reduced instances of depression (Growth mindset associated with various positive outcomes (competence, relatedness, learning, vitality, adjustment), 2012).
Inability to Cope with Change
Change often comes with risks that those with a fixed mindset seek to avoid. Individuals possessing a fixed mindset see risks, and by default change, as uncomfortable and an opportunity to expose a potential weakness. Research suggests that college students with a fixed mindset have a tendency to respond to change and challenges with a helpless response which ultimately also leads to decreased self-esteem (Murphy & Thomas, 2008). Additionally, research by Ronnel King, which looked at the impact mindsets had on adaptivity, revealed that those with fixed mindsets had more maladaptive outcomes (King, 2012).
Complacency and Mediocracy
One of the staples of a fixed mindset is the failure to take advantage of new opportunities to learn and grow. Those with a fixed mindset tend to obtain a set amount of knowledge or skills in a particular area, and rather than seek opportunities to continually improve in those areas, they instead embrace the idea that no further improvement is needed or can take place.
Those who possess a fixed mindset do not value feedback from others. Rather than viewing feedback as an asset that can be used for improvement and growth, criticism is taken as a personal attack and disregarded. Without the feedback and observations of others, it becomes increasingly difficult to become aware of areas of weakness or areas of needed improvement.
With a complacent attitude and decreased self- awareness, the natural progression is one of stagnation. Those with a fixed mindset avoid risks as a means of preserving comfort and thus miss critical opportunities to obtain new skills and information. Additionally, a person who lacks the desire to change or grow while also lacking the information needed about areas of improvement that would be offered via feedback from others will simply not grow, and in some cases will decline (Woodlard, 2018).
Research suggests that the implications of a fixed mindset are increasingly negative. The limitations one imposes upon themselves by rejecting the notion that there is an ability to grow and learn are great. Thus, embracing a growth mindset seems to be the best way to ensure continual progression and development in life.
Growth mindset associated with various positive outcomes (competence, relatedness, learning, vitality, adjustment). (2012, November 14). Retrieved from http://www.progressfocusedapproach.com/growth-mindset-associated-with-various-positive-outcomes-such-competence-learning-vitality-adjustment/
King, R. B. (2012). How you think about your intelligence influences how adjusted you are: Implicit theories and adjustment outcomes. Personality and Individual Differences, 53(5), 705-709. doi:10.1016/j.paid.2012.05.031
Murphy, L., & Thomas, L. (2008). Dangers of a fixed mindset. Proceedings of the 13th annual conference on Innovation and technology in computer science education - ITiCSE '08. doi:10.1145/1384271.1384344
What Having a “Growth Mindset” Actually Means. (2016, January 13). Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/01/what-having-a-growth-mindset-actually-means
Woodlard, S. (2018, July 30). The Danger of a Fixed Mindset. Retrieved from https://www.alustforlife.com/mental-health/well-being/the-danger-of-a-fixed-mindset
5 Powerful Lessons Learned from Failures and Mistakes
In life, we learn lessons from many different situations, people, and circumstances. Think back to some of the most lasting or impressionable lessons you have learned. Are any of these lessons from less-than-positive situations? Have you ever learned something valuable from doing something dumb or making the wrong choice? These types of life lessons are often the most helpful and come from what our mistakes and failures can teach us. These are five of the most powerful lessons you can learn from these types of situations.
#1. You Can Learn More About Yourself
Mistakes and failures in life happen because you are not perfect. They happen because you still have things to learn or new perspectives to understand. They happen because you are flawed, just like everyone else. So, when you adopt a learning mindset, you learn to appreciate that your mistakes are really gifts, they are chances to learn more about yourself as well as the world. When you mess up, it tells you valuable information about your traits, capabilities, values, and beliefs. These experiences help you clarify what is important to you, what you want in life, and how hard you are willing to work to achieve those things.
#2. You Can Become Stronger and More Resilient
Challenges, including mistakes and setbacks, can help you to improve your determination and enhance your grit. Mistakes give you opportunities to learn to overcome and try again, and failures teach you the value of sticking with something and trying again when it does not turn out as you planned. While the first mistake can be hard to get passed, the more mistakes you make, the easier it becomes to accept these as valuable learning opportunities that have much to teach you. Resilience is your ability to stand firm in the face of adversity, and it is only by experiencing such obstacles and challenges that you develop this strength.
#3. Mistakes Can Help You Develop Better Habits
If you notice that you are making the same mistakes consistently or that you have encountered failure more than once, then this is an indicator to you that you may be contributing to the problem. Your poor habits or behavior could be causing these regular setbacks, and the closer you look at your role in these, the more you can learn about how your choices and consistent actions are playing a role in these challenges.
#4. Mistakes Can Teach You to Face Your Fears
One of the reasons people are so resistant to change, challenges, and risks is because they fear the unknown consequences, including the possibility that you might fail. Contemplating defeat can be so frightening that some people go to extreme lengths to avoid situations that are risky or different. When you learn to accept that all mistakes have something valuable to offer you, you realize that your fears are unhelpful to your personal growth. Letting go of your fear of failure can free you to take more chances and allow you to embrace more opportunities in your life.
#5. Mistakes Can Help You See What is Important to You
When you experience a mismatch between what you want and what you get, it can feel like a failure or a mistake. When this happens, these experiences can help you clarify what you really want, what you are trying to achieve, or what is important to you. Mistakes and setbacks give you a chance to explore your values and goals in new ways to determine if trying again is important to you or if you are ready to move on.
5 Key Ways to Develop a Growth Mindset
Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck defines a growth mindset as the belief that one has the ability to learn and grow. Dweck writes in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, “This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts… [that] everyone can change and grow through application and experience.” Those who possess a growth mindset essentially believe that through hard work, good strategies, and input from others, their talents can be developed. So how does one practically go about cultivating such a mindset?
Embrace Mistakes as Learning Opportunities
Many people view mistakes as failures, but a key to developing a growth mindset is reframing mistakes as vital opportunities to learn and grow. While making mistakes isn’t necessarily fun, it offers us a chance to assess where we went wrong and how we could have done better. We are provided with valuable knowledge and tools that can later be used and implemented to achieve a more favorable outcome. If we redefine failure as simply an alternate route to success, we remove the fear of failure and embrace the chance to acquire key data that will help us thrive later. Thus, failures stop being things we have to be embarrassed about and instead can be things we accept and even are proud of because they assist us in our growth and development.
Stop Seeking the Approval of Others
When we seek the approval of others it fosters a sense of perfectionism that we feel is needed to obtain acceptance. In striving to be perfect we miss out on crucial chances to acquire new skills. Our focus becomes getting things right versus taking advantage of opportunities to learn and advance. When we strive for self-acceptance, we remove the weight of perfectionism because we recognize that we only need to please ourselves. This then allows us the freedom to transform our idea of success to one that includes room for mistakes because we recognize that making mistakes equals learning opportunities.
Embrace Criticism and Critiques
Constructive criticism and critiques from others are not the enemies, and should not be seen as personal attacks. Rather, they should be viewed as opportunities to learn more about ourselves and our habits and thus, opportunities to improve and develop. Being open to the perspectives and suggestions of others makes us aware of potential pitfalls or flaws that can be improved upon. Thus, to foster a growth mindset, criticism should never be taken personally and instead should be used in one’s process of self-reflection and self-analysis.
Value the Process Over the Outcome
Typically, people prioritize the final outcome over the process taken to get to the end goal. Yet, one major aspect of those with a growth mindset is the value they place on the process more than the end goal. Those with a growth mindset understand that there are valuable lessons to be learned as one takes steps towards the end goal that can lead to the learning of new skills and knowledge.
Be Willing to Take Risks
Generally, people avoid risks because they are fearful of a negative outcome. However, taking risks can present crucial opportunities for learning and growth. Instead of looking at risks as scary unknowns, the aim should be to view them as the potential springs of knowledge. Since risks often include stepping into unknown territory without complete understanding, taking risks create amazing opportunities to develop skills and knowledge you previously did not have.
Ultimately, the keys to developing a growth mindset involve changing our thought process and approach to learning and gaining knowledge. When we shift our thinking to the belief that life is full of opportunities to develop new skills and enhance our own abilities, we will embrace challenges and seek out experiences that allow us to do just that. A mind that believes its learning potential is essentially unlimited is a mind that will never stop learning.
Dweck, C. S. (2008). Mindset: The new psychology of success. House Digital, Inc. Chicago
What Having a “Growth Mindset” Actually Means. (2016, January 13). Retrieved from https://hbr.org/2016/01/what-having-a-growth-mindset-actually-means