Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset

By Bethea Garcia

Do you tend to feel lost or get stuck when confronted with a setback or challenge?

Do you feel a pressure to live up to standards set by your parents, friends, or partner?

Do you sometimes feel humiliated after you make a mistake?

Do you feel an overwhelming need to be different?

Do you feel a need to be the first one to answer a question, finish a test, or complete a task?

Do you feel an overwhelming need to be the best out of everyone?

Do you feel an immense need to fit in, even if it means you don’t act like yourself?

Do you get overwhelmed and stuck in your familiar point of view?


If you can relate or answered yes to any of those questions, your mindset may be what is getting in your way of feeling more productive, successful, and happy! A mindset is the way you see yourself and the world. One research study explains that humans usually have one of two mindsets: fixed or growth. But what are the differences between these mindsets and how can you alter your thoughts? A fixed mindset means that you believe intelligence cannot change—so if you’re not good at an activity, you might believe you’ll never be good at it. A growth mindset means that you believe intelligence and talents can be developed with time and effort. A fixed mindset sees feedback as criticism. A growth mindset appreciates the input and reflects on how improvements or changes could begin. A fixed mindset sees mistakes or setbacks as failure and gives up easily. A growth mindset sees the same mistakes or setbacks as opportunities and persists. A fixed mindset feels either jealous or threatened when other people succeed, whereas a growth mindset actively seeks out those people as a source of inspiration.

Those with fixed mindsets often spend most of their time showing off their talents instead of putting in the effort of developing their current strengths, creating new ones, or further improving their weaknesses. Those who have growth mindsets appreciate the worth of natural skills, but also believe that success comes from dedication and hard work. Eventually, this type of view can create a love of learning and fostering the necessary flexibility for successes.

Author Dr. Carol Dweck of Stanford University has done research for over 30 years with children and young adults; she demonstrates that self-talk and thoughts that drive your approach to challenges have a profound effect on motivation and resilience. Making strides to move away from a fixed mindset and foster a growth mindset can have people shape, change, and improve their outlook on learning and life. In other words, our mindset, despite whether we have a growth one, fixed one, or one in between, directly affects how we learn, cope with stressors, and face challenges. Furthermore, science proves that even in adults, your brain continues to develop and change over time. ‘Neuroplasticity’ demonstrates that your amazing brain can grow new connections and strengthen existing ones. A person who largely has a fixed mindset can therefore slowly develop a new way of thinking.

Whether people are aware of it or not, everyone’s minds are constantly interpreting what is happening to them. Mindsets guide the way the interpretation process works. One with a fixed mindset absorbs the information and judges him or herself and others based on the negativity or positivity of the information. One with a growth mindset also absorbs the information, but their processes of thinking go more along the lines of striving to improve or helping others improve. If you are ready for a positive change in your life, there are four general steps to changing your mindset.

First, learn to hear the fixed mindset voice;

Second, recognize that you have a choice of selecting a different narrative;

Third, cultivate and feed the fixed mindset with the voice of growth mindset ideas; and

Fourth, decide to take the growth mindset action.

So how do you identify? What changes might you be willing to make to improve your outlook, resilience, and contentment?

For more information…buy the book:

Dweck, C., 2012. Mindset. London: Robinson.