Fixed vs Growth: The two basic mindsets that shape our lives

Your mind is a powerful thing.

How you think of yourself can either hinder your growth or empower you to achieve unbelievable things.

Have you ever heard of the “Fixed vs Growth Mindset” and the power of our most basic beliefs?

University of Stanford researcher Carol Dweck is making a groundbreaking argument about how our mindset “affects what we want and whether we succeed in getting it.”

Her research digs deep into how our self-image ultimately shapes our lives.

If you’re someone who actually wants to stick to your goals, create better habits, and increase your chances at success, read ahead.

Fixed vs Growth Mindset

According to Dweck, there are 2 types of mindsets: a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.


Having a fixed mindset is:

“Believing that your qualities are carved in stone —the fixed mindset — creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you only have a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character — well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look deficient in these most basic characteristics.”

While a growth mindset:

“In this mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way — in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments — everyone can change and grow through application and exercise.”

How do you know which of the two mindsets you have?

Which mindset do you have?

Let’s try to dissect the difference between those who have a fixed and growth mindset.

People who have fixed mindset:

  • dislike and avoid challenges in fear of not being smart or talented enough.
  • lose interest when a task becomes harder.
  • need to be rewarded for their efforts, even when they’ve done very little.
  • get discouraged after one setback, rejection, or failure.
  • give up easily.

People with growth mindset:

  • willingly seek challenges and thrive under pressure.
  • are more motivated when things get hard.
  • does not let one mistake or setback define their potential.
  • believe that hard work is essential because natural talent is simply not enough.
  • love what they do and don’t want to stop doing it.

Unfortunately, most of us end up having a fixed mindset. We believe that we are only capable of something at a certain point. And it’s easy to believe you are not good enough when idols and celebrities are portrayed in superhuman light.

We all fall into the trap that we can’t be better at something. For example, simply thinking that “I am not good at math” already stops you from trying to learn math better. Having a fixed mindset inhibits your growth, which in turn, can affect your personal happiness down the line.

The good news is…

You can develop a growth mindset

“I can accept failure, everyone fails at something. But I can’t accept not trying.

– Michael Jordan

You can cultivate a growth mindset. You can choose to think better about yourself, your capabilities, and your potential. Once you start actively implementing this mindset in your head, you’ll see such significant change in you,

Dweck adds:

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“It’s not just that some people happen to recognize the value of challenging themselves and the importance of effort. Our research has shown that this comes directly from the growth mindset. When we teach people the growth mindset, with its focus on development, these ideas about challenge and effort follow. . . .

“As you begin to understand the fixed and growth mindsets, you will see exactly how one thing leads to another—how a belief that your qualities are carved in stone leads to a host of thoughts and actions, and how a belief that your qualities can be cultivated leads to a host of different thoughts and actions, taking you down an entirely different road.”

The bottom line is this: you don’t need to be born with talent or skill – you can cultivate it.

5 Steps to cultivate a growth mindset

So how do you begin?

We’ve come up with 5 simple steps to help you start building a growth mindset:

1. Acknowledge your weaknesses.

You’re not perfect. You have certain things that hold you back. There is nothing wrong with that. But if you want a real change in your life, you have to start, however small.

Start by acknowledging and embracing your weaknesses. Then, create modest, achievable goals for yourself. And give yourself ample time to achieve them.

2. Do what works for you.

What’s the best way to learn things for you? Which exercises do you enjoy most?


You learn better in an environment that suits you. What might work for others may not necessarily work for you.

So find your own approach and don’t mind if it means it will take you slower. The important thing is you learn.

3. Every challenge is an opportunity to grow.

Challenges make us uncomfortable. Discomfort pushes us to grow.

Embrace each challenge as an opportunity to learn something. When tasks get hard, don’t give up so easily. Take a breath and figure your way through it.

Again, it’s not how fast you learn or achieve something – it’s about the journey.

[In Ideapod’s best-selling eBook, Why Taking Responsibility is Key to Being the Best You, we help you develop a new mindset around the challenges you face in life. Check it out here].


4. Stop seeking for approval.

Stop worrying about what other people think of you. Focus on your own progress.

Don’t waste your energy on other people’s approval. They only distract you from your real goals. The only approval you need is yours.

5. Don’t focus on the results, focus on the process.

“Keeping your eye on the price” doesn’t always work for your benefit. Instead, it stops you from learning in the moment. You become so distracted by the end result, that you fail to learn anything from the process.

So take it slow. Celebrate your small wins. In time, you’ll look back and notice you’ve gone farther than you’ve ever imagined.

If you’re looking for more inspiration in developing your mindset, check out these growth mindset quotes.

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Written by Genefe Navilon

Genefe Navilon is a writer, poet, and blogger. She graduated with a degree in Mass Communications at the University of San Jose Recoletos. Her poetry blog, Letters To The Sea, currently has 18,000 followers. Her work has been published in different websites and poetry book anthologies. She divides her time between traveling, writing, and working on her debut poetry book.

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