Do you have a Fixed or Growth Mindset?

12 Jun


Over the last few of weeks, I’ve been reading Carol Dweck’s book Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential. Recently, I’ve been tweeting about the differences between a fixed and growth mindset: see #fixedvsgrowthmindset

Dweck’s research over 20 years has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life:

“In a fixed mindset people 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, people 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”.

Some other points that I took away from the book are that people with a fixed mindset:

  • Are measured by failure
  • Blame others or make excuses if they don’t perform well
  • Believe that effort is for people with deficiencies
  • Need to always prove their ability
  • Don’t want to confront their shortcomings
  • Stick with what they know in order to feel smart
  • Lose interest if things get hard

However, people with a growth mindset:

  • Believe their true potential is unknown – you can’t foresee what you can accomplish
  • Learn from their mistakes
  • Direct effort where they feel deficient
  • Enjoy challenges – they want to be stretched
  • Can develop their abilities through learning
  • Deal with failures and learn from them

Dweck also says that praising intelligence leads to a fixed mindset whereas praising effort leads to a growth mindset. Your background, upbringing and life experiences all help to shape your current mindset.

It’s likely that you’ll have a different mindset in different areas of your life. The good news is that you can change your mindset. It isn’t easy, you need to work at it but it’s worth it. The first step is knowing about the two mindsets and the differences between them. You can see from the above list how limiting a fixed mindset is compared to the growth mindset.

The second is making a conscious decision to think in a growth mindset when faced with challenges or setbacks or new situations. You should also use a growth mindset when giving feedback to or interacting with colleagues or staff in the workplace and family and friends in general. Your actions can help to shape the mindset of others.

Your mindset can have a powerful effect on your life. So, what mindset are you?


Dweck, C. S. (2012). Mindset: How You Can Fulfil Your Potential. Constable & Robinson Limited.


Posted by on June 12, 2013 in Motivation, Theories


Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

5 responses to “Do you have a Fixed or Growth Mindset?

  1. Ian Marrineri

    June 23, 2013 at 11:00 am

    Hi Matt, an interesting topic. I like most of it but “Direct effort where they feel deficient” is in direct contrast to writings of “Strength Based Leadership” , directing effort and passions to your strengths will reap far greater reward. I can recommend you have a read of this, really VG. Ian Marriner

    • learningsnippets

      June 23, 2013 at 10:54 pm

      Thanks Ian, I’ll have a look at strength based leadership – sounds interesting.

  2. Tania K

    August 30, 2013 at 7:27 pm

    I am one of those types that blink and look blank when I go for an interview where I am asked where I will be in five or ten years. Who plans that? Diversity is one of the keys to my success. I evolve as the education industry evolves in Australia. I was a trainer for ten years, then I started to write educational resources,even when I applied for jobs to teach, I was rail roaded into writing. Two years later, I completed a TEFL course and have started to apply for part time jobs in Asia. If Australia is going to be interacting more in Asia, what better way to learn than to immerse myself in their culture. Lets see where this path goes. If I don’t like it, I will find another.

    I have a growth mindset, always have, always will. I have seen this book, never read it, but I do agree with it. Personally, I believe that you are not competitive, if you have fixed traits in a globalised economy

  3. Joanna Copeland

    August 31, 2013 at 5:14 am

    It is a great book. Have been reading it this year – and I think I have fixed & growth mind sets – depending upon context.

    • learningsnippets

      August 31, 2013 at 9:51 am

      Hi Joanna
      Thanks for reading. I agree its a great book and yes context does play a part in mindset. After reading the book, I’ve become more aware of when I’m thinking like a fixed mindset and try to be more growth orientated.


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