Fixed or growth mindset?

A growth mindset is one of the most important assets for success in life. On contrast, a fixed mindset not only helps but actually restricts our growth.

Two different mentalities, two ways of life

There are two different schools of thought. The first supports that people grow and evolve. The second states that people do not change. It’s funny that both of these ways of thinking are self-confirmed, given enough time.

Let’s see why.

The Growth mindset

Those who believe that people change, see themselves as a product in progress. Therefore, they put the required effort and eventually accomplish the change.

Growth Mindset – Without Gravity (abstract painting)
– Growth Mindset  – Without Gravity (abstract painting)

Gradually, they change their habits or their behavior. Little by little, they acquire new knowledge and new competencies. They understand that the first attempt, most likely, will not be perfect. But they know the second will be much better. And every new attempt will improve their competency.

The Fixed mindset

The other school of thought says that the person is a finished product. Therefore, it doesn’t change. But, if change is not possible, then any attempt to change would be pointless. So they don’t try and of course, they don’t change.

They are also right!

“Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t… you’re right!” Henry Ford 

Usually, these people believe that they either can or cannot. They fail to see the continuum. As a consequence, they consider vain any effort to improve. So, they bail out after the first difficulty. They believe that they are simply not good enough at this and most probably, they will never succeed.

Fixed Mindset – With Gravity – abstract painting
– Fixed Mindset  – With Gravity (abstract painting)

Metaphorically speaking, in the fixed mindset world there is high gravity which pulls us to earth. On the other hand, gravity in the growth mindset world is very weak and allows us to take-off.

Differences between the two mindsets

Those two mindsets present the following characteristic differences:


People do not change

People improve

Show a tendency to look more clever than they actually are.Have a more realistic self-image and adopt a culture of progressive improvement.
Feel ashamed for their weaknesses and hide them as much as they can.Feel comfortable with their imperfections and inadequacies and put considerable effort to improve.
They are attracted to convenience and are afraid of the unknown. They like to spend time in their comfort zone.Seek adversity and feel ok with the unknown. They take long walks out and away of their comfort zone.
Avoid challenges especially whenever they feel there is a chance to fail.Welcome challenges as they see them as opportunities to become better.
Quit easily when facing obstacles.Persist until they overcome the obstacles they meet.
See effort as pointless and vain.Understand that effort is the vehicle to mastery.
Ignore or avoid criticism even when it is benevolent. They often misunderstand, feel hurt, become distant and unapproachable.Are open to criticism, receive it stoically and earn valuable hints for their own further improvement.
They become excellent in finding excuses to avoid their responsibilities.They take responsibility for their actions, decisions and their life in general.
See the success of others as threat. They feel inferior when they compare their selves with others who are more successful.Get inspired from the success of others. They see their case as a prime example, which helps them come closer to their own success.
Driven by their reptilian brain. Live their life mostly in survival mode.Driven by their neocortex. Live their life mostly in thriving mode.

Which of the two mindsets do you belong?

Observe how you tackle your everyday challenges, effort, criticism and the success of others. Do you persist when you come face to face with obstacles or you abandon the ship?

What is your relationship with adversity and problems? Do you stay in your comfort zone for long or do you enjoy going out of it often?

Exercise: Find out which is your present mindset

Grade how much you resonate with every line of the table above.

Give a mark from 1-10 (1-5 for the fixed mindset and 6-10 for the growth mindset). Let’s define 1 as extreme fixed mindset and 10 as extreme growth mindset)

How to adopt a growth mindset

Following are some ideas which might help you to build a growth mindset. Consider whether some of them could be useful to you.

  • Embrace your imperfections. Don’t hide from your weaknesses
  • See the challenges as an opportunity for self-improvement
  • Try new things and new techniques until you find those which have a better match with you
  • Change in your vocabulary the word failure with the word learning
  • Do not seek the acceptance of others, build your own path
  • Re-define the concept of competence as talent + effort, instead of just talent
  • Welcome well-intentioned criticism, even if at times, it’s mean-spirited
  • Change “I’m not good enough at this” to “I’m not good enough at this yet
  • Learn lessons from your mistakes but also from the mistakes of others
  • Exercise as much as you can your creative and innovative thinking
  • Get inspired from your successes, as well as the successes of others
  • Take responsibility for a mistake or a failure, avoid excuses, stop blaming others or the circumstances

Finally, observe consciously your transformation. Feel proud with your gradual transition from fixed to growth mindset.

“Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice. It is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved” William Jennings Bryan 

It will not be very difficult to adopt the growth mindset, as long as you have realized the benefits.

Remember that this is not going to happen from one day to the next. It is a journey which might take months or even years. Therefore, enjoy your trip, not just the destination!

Continue reading our article about the Comfort Zone.

Also, check the talk by Carol Dweck: Developing a Growth Mindset