What Is Growth Vs. Fixed Mindset?
How do you get unstuck? Easy! Throw that fixed mindset in the garbage!
The concepts of fixed vs. growth mindset were developed by Carol S. Dweck in her book Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success.
What Is A Fixed Mindset? – Definition
A fixed mindset is when people believe that personal traits, skills, abilities and qualities are innate and cannot change. In other words, they believe that one’s abilities are genetically determined. Examples include our creativity, intelligence, and physical abilities.
People who hold a fixed mindset also believe that most things in the world stay as they are. For example, a bad economy will be bad forever because that is just the way it is.
A fixed mindset falsely says that talent equals success, rather than developing one’s skills.
What Is A Growth Mindset? – Definition
People with a growth mindset know that they can always change and improve their personal traits, skills, abilities and qualities. For example, someone who is having trouble cooking knows that they can improve.
How A Fixed Mindset Hurts You
Tommy always got high grades when he was in elementary school. He felt so good about himself with high self-confidence because he got praised for his exceptional marks. Tommy thought that he will always be good at school because he was innately smart.
Years later he stopped putting in the effort and eventually became an average student. Since he believed that he could not do anything to improve his grades, he felt down, stuck and with low confidence.
How A Growth Mindset Helps You
There once was a high school student who loved playing basketball. He decided to try-out for the varsity basketball team, only to get cut. This young man spent every day of the next year improving his game. As a reward he made the team next year and became the star of his team.
This same young man made it to the NBA, won six NBA Championships and became the greatest ever basketball player. Michael Jordan succeeded time and time again thanks to his growth mindset.
Fixed Mindset Examples
A fixed mindset:
- avoids challenges
- gives up easily
- sees effort as a waste
- hates negative feedback
- gets jealous by other people’s success.
This deterministic view of themselves and the world contributes to their failure and lack of self-confidence.
Growth Mindset Examples
A growth mindset:
- likes challenge
- is persistent even through setbacks
- loves putting in the effort to succeed
- learns from constructive criticism
- is a life long learner
This empowered view of themselves and the world is a major factor in their personal and professional success.
Growth Mindset Scientific Studies
In a study conducted by Carol Dweck and Lisa Blackwell, researchers tracked the grades of 700 seventh graders for two years. The students with a growth mindset got higher grades over time versus students with a fixed mindset. After only two years there was already a difference in grades. We can see that year after year the gap in results will get bigger.
This notable difference in results was based largely on something simple: their perspective on their intelligence and abilities. The students who performed better knew that they had the power to increase their capabilities and exceed their potential.
The Physiological Difference Of Fixed Vs. Growth Mindset
Our brains actually operate differently based on which mindset we adapt. For people who hold a fixed mindset, scientific scans show that their brains light up most when they receive information about how they performed. They ask themselves “how do I look to other people?”
On the other hand, for people with a growth mindset, their brains are most active when they learn what they can do better next time. They ask themselves “how can I keep growing as a person?”
Basically, people with a growth mindset have physically trained themselves to highly value learning and improving.
How People With Different Mentalities See Hard Work & Effort
The fixed mindset people sees effort as a bad thing. As soon as they fail at something, they protect their ego and sense of certainty by concluding that they are incapable or that it is just not possible. They lose motivation and drive, eventually settling for a life of mediocrity. They give up on having a vision, and live their lives in reaction to everything outside of themselves.
The growth mindset views setbacks as part of the journey and an experience which helps them grow and do better next time. For example, successful people never say that they failed. They say “I learned x, y, and z”. World record holder for stilt walking Doug Hunt also tells kids “if you fall off the stilts, you’re actually falling forward”.
Growth Mindset Education
In another study by Doctor Dweck and Doctor Claudia Mueller called Praise for Intelligence Can Undermine Children’s Motivation and Performance, a series of kids did a set of puzzles. They told some of the kids “wow, you must be really smart”, and told the other kids “wow, you must have tried really hard”. (left sided bar chart)
The doctors then offered the kids to do another puzzle: an easy one or a hard one. Most of the kids who got the fixed praise chose to do the easy puzzle, while most of the kids who got the growth praise were excited about the challenge of the hard puzzle.
Then the researchers gave a hard puzzle to all of the kids. After trying the hard puzzles, the kids went back to the easy puzzles. The ones with the fixed mentality scored significantly less than the kids with the growth mentality. (middle bar chart)
When asked about their scores, the fixed mindset kids lied a lot more about their scores (right sides bar chart). They were desperate to maintain the praise of achieving something.
Growth Mindset In Your Life
A growth mindset gives real confidence and success in their whole lives. These successful people are better at problem solving, playing sports, managing people and even dancing! We know that the brain is malleable and flexible. The right mentality positively trains efforts, focus and resilience, all traits needed to succeed at the highest level.
How To Help Your Children Develop A Growth Mindset
Praise your children for their effort, and reward them for learning. Let them know that they can do and become so many different careers. Celebrate mistakes as they mean that the child learned something.
Also let them know and show by example that there are always options and solutions in life. Lack mentality breads scared and unconfident children. The abundance mentality is actually the partner in crime to a growth mindset.
To learn how to keep growing, Get Your Free Copy of 5 Best Ways To Achieve Your Goals.