Definition: Growth Mindset VS Fixed Mindset

By Taylor

Have you ever wondered why some people seem to find success so much more easily than others? Or how some people seem to accept the idea of just scraping by? This is the battle between the growth mindset vs the fixed mindset.

Now you might be wondering why I chose the picture above. It is an odd choice isn't it, a child with their father? Well, that's because our mindset is largely determined by our environment and shaped based on our role models and parents. As we grow and see how our parents react to events in life, we too begin to model their behavior.

Also, this concept was created by Carol Dweck. She wrote a book on it that is based ​on decades of her own research working with adults and children. It's called Mindset: The New Psychology of Success and is definitely worth a read for a better, more full understanding on the subject.

As I alluded to already, which mindset you have will determine much of your success as well as your happiness. Let's start off with the main differences between the two!

Growth mindset vs fixed mindset

  • Embraces challenges
  • Fights through setbacks and obstacles
  • Approaches effort as a means to grow and gain mastery
  • Appreciates and learns from criticism
  • Is inspired and learns from others who find or have found success
  • Avoids challenges
  • Is shut down by obstacles easily
  • Thinks that if it requires effort it isn't worth working towards
  • Ignores and dislikes feedback
  • Threatened and even aggressive towards successful individuals

Pretty polar opposites, aren't they? You can see how having a fixed mindset really sets a person back. Those types of people just don't like work and give up easy. Kind of hard to accomplish anything thinking that way!

​How a growth mindset thinks

Going more in depth, a growth mindset​ embraces the world as it is. They are, in general, optimistic about life and see everything difficult as a means to grow. They don't want to do things that are easy, because they don't feel like they are learning anything from it.

Obstacles are just things that need to be worked around to them. It opens up new ways of thinking to these people, which means it's another learning experience to them.

Dweck offers a very simple, but great example of how kids can show their growth mindset in class. Doing puzzles the child will get very bored with doing the same puzzle, especially one they can complete fast. They know that they can do better and like having to try harder.

On the flipside, moving away from intelligence and towards personality, this too is reflected by mindset. When a person is working towards growth and improving themselves they don't see criticism from others as an issue, in fact they embrace it!

They don't compare themselves to others. Rather, they compare themselves... to themselves! They know that they are on a course of constantly improving themselves and that, with the right training and putting in effort, almost anything can be accomplished.

But what about those who have the self-destructive fixed mindset?

How the fixed mindset works

Having a fixed mindset is perhaps the most suffocating trait possible. It is damn near impossible to move past struggle and to take action towards accomplishing anything. When challenges come up, these people completely dodge them. These are the people you see that will boast the most, but when it comes to getting it done, they never show up.

These people believe that intelligence and ability can't be trained. In other words, we are as good as we'll ever be. Hence, "fixed" mindset.​

​They have no backbone when things don't go their way. At the core of this issue is the individual, most likely, is used to receiving praise and having things come easily. So when something blocks them, they don't know how to get around it and/or don't want to.

​This bleeds into their beliefs on effort, as well! They don't like to work. Because they believe that they are at the top of their abilities, if something is too hard they don't think they can do it. That the effort is worthless.

Criticism is their worst enemy. To them it means that they are bad something and shouldn't try it again, rather than see it as a learning tool.

A big issue I used to have growing up was seeing other people starting at my same level and watch them succeed beyond me. Man, that pissed me off! Instead of trying to learn from them and be inspired, I turned it into a self-hatred as well as outward hatred. This is probably the worst part of having a fixed mindset because it prevents you from wanting to surround yourself with successful people.

Finishing up

I'm sure I made it obvious enough, but we should always be trying to move towards that growth mindset. Without it, we cannot hope to truly enjoy challenges and being in the moment. We will suffer from the hard parts of life if we always take offence when we fail. Again, I suggest checking out Carol Dweck's book on the subject.

Expect a follow up blog in a week or two(-ish) ​that will serve as a follow-up to this that will go in detail of how to change your mindset. So check back later to see if it's up yet!

I hope you enjoyed this article, as much as I enjoyed making it! If you have any comments or questions, I would love if you dropped them below! I will get to them as soon as I can!​

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