Fixed vs growth mindset

Your mind is a very powerful thing. The stories you tell yourself and the things you believe about yourself can either prevent change from happening and keep you in your comfort bubble or allow you to reach your full potential.

The way we think about ourselves not only affects the way we feel but it can also affect what we achieve, whether we stick to new habits and if we will go on to develop new skills!

There are two main mindsets we can navigate life with: growth and fixed. Let’s look at the difference between the two…

Fixed mindset

Having a fixed mindset leads to you believing that intelligence and talent are fixed. This can lead to:

  • Negative thinking
  • Hiding flaws/mistakes
  • Avoiding challenges to avoid failure
  • Viewing feedback as personal criticism
  • Feeling ashamed about ‘failures’
  • Feeling threatened by others’ success
  • Giving up easily
  • Being unmotivated to achieve goals

Most of us are guilty of having a fixed mindset in certain situations. This mindset prevents you from failing in the short–run, but in the long–run it hinders your ability to learn, grow, and develop new skills. Essentially, it limits your potential in life.

Growth mindset

Having a growth mindset leads you to believing that intelligence and talent can be improved. This will lead to:

  • Positive thinking
  • Embracing flaws/mistakes as opportunities for growth
  • Being willing to take on challenges
  • Viewing feedback as opportunities to become better
  • Accepting setbacks as part of the learning process
  • See others’ success as inspiration
  • Feeling empowered to reach goals

Those who have a growth mindset are more likely to maximise their potential. This kind of mindset sees ‘failures’ as temporary and possible to overcome, which is crucial for learning, resilience, motivation, and performance.

Examples of fixed vs growth mindset thinking

These fixed mindset vs. growth mindset examples will help you not only understand the difference, but also put this powerful concept into practice.

Fixed Mindset: “I’m either good at something or I’m not.”
Growth Mindset: “I can improve my skills with effort and practice.”

Fixed Mindset: “When people give me feedback, it feels like criticism.”
Growth Mindset: “I appreciate when people give me feedback. It helps me learn and grow.”

Fixed Mindset: “If I don’t try new or hard things, then I won’t fail.”
Growth Mindset: “I have to try new and difficult things in order to grow, even if I fail at first.”

Fixed Mindset: “When I fail, I get frustrated and give up.”
Growth Mindset: “When I fail or get frustrated, I try again using the lessons I’ve learned. I only truly fail when I give up.”

Fixed Mindset: “There is no way I can do that!”
Growth Mindset: “I can’t do that yet but I’m going to learn more about it, try it, ask for help if I need to, and practice it until I can do it.”

Can you shift to a growth mindset?

Good news is that you can absolutely shift your mindset from fixed to growth, however, this will require repeated effort to rewire those neural pathways. You’ll need to:

Identify where you may have fixed mindset tendencies. This is often the hardest part and requires a lot of self-reflection. You can’t change what you’re not aware of.

Remove your ‘fixed mindset’ inner voice. Shift those “I can’t do this” thoughts into “I CAN do this if I keep practising”.

Get out of your comfort zone. Getting out of your comfort zone, trying new experiences and opening yourself up to new challenges will help your mindset grow.

Accept failure as part of the process. You are learning a new skill which takes time, don’t be so hard on yourself during this process.

Get feedback from those closest to you. Feedback is a great way to learn what we’re doing well and where we can improve. However this can be tricky to obtain if you are surrounded by others who have a fixed mindset as they are not in the best position to notice changes and communicate these positively back to you.

Reward yourself. Your mindset journey will take time, be sure you are rewarding yourself during the process.

We all live upon a continuum, and consistent self-assessment will help us become the person we want to be.

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