Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset: Your Success Hinges On It

Has anyone ever told you to open your mind? Or that you’re too closed-minded about something and should learn open up a bit? Most people have. And the truth is that mindset about particular issues and life in general can tends to calcify and stagnate as we get older.

Your mindset is a powerful thing. It can determine what the ideas and experiences you’re open to, your success in business, love, and life, and much more. Having a growth mindset and understanding the ways your mindset might be fixed can help you grow as a person, find success, and live a happier life.

However, many people aren’t clear on what constitutes a growth mindset or how to grow in that particular area. That’s what this article is for. We’ve laid out some of the basic foundations for understanding mindset, what type you might have, how to adjust, and much more.

What Is A Mindset?

First things first: What is mindset and how can you determine the type of mindset you have?

According to Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck, mindset is a simple idea that has a profound effect on a person’s life. Mindset, Dweck says, is the view that you adopt for yourself that determines the way you live your life, see the world, and make decisions.

Another definition of mindset is essentially your particular perspective, or the way you view the world. In short, it’s the way your perceptions or your beliefs about your abilities and qualities shape the way you operate.

Think about some of your talents or qualities. Are you creative? Do you have musical abilities? Are you intelligent? Wise?

The way you answered those questions says a lot about your mindset and how you view yourself and the world around you. Your mindset is not a small thing. It’s largely responsible for what shapes your reality, shaping your entire perception of what’s attainable and what’s out of your reach.

Growth vs. Fixed Mindset

Now that you have a firm grasp on the basics of mindset, we can start to break down the difference between a growth and a fixed mindset.

Fixed Mindset

There’s substantial debate about what exactly constitutes a fixed mindset, but we can at least nail some of the primary factors. A fixed-mindset essentially means that you believe your attributes and abilities are inherently fixed and unchanging. Most of how you think about yourself in regard to personality, drive, setbacks, and goals grows directly out of your mindset.

It’s common for people with a fixed mindset to believe that their general qualities are fixed traits that can’t be changed.

For example, you may believe you’re only as smart as the fixed amount of intelligence you were born with. In other words, you’re as smart as you’ll ever be. This may lead to you not working to improve your intelligence, because you don’t believe this level can grow with time and experience. Instead, you believe they’re fixed exactly where they are.

Because of this you may feel an urgency to prove yourself again and again. Why? Because if you only have a certain amount of intelligence, moral character, talent, or success, you need to demonstrate that you have a large amount of each. There is a sense where you need to prove that you’re good person in every area.

Maria Popova helpfully phrases it this way:

A “fixed mindset” assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence, an assessment of how those givens measure up against an equally fixed standard; striving for success and avoiding failure at all costs become a way of maintaining the sense of being smart or skilled.

If you have a fixed mindset, it’s easy to get caught in a web of proving to yourself and others that whatever fixed level of talent and skill you have, it’s enough. Otherwise, you’re stuck with an inadequate amount of whatever it is that you’re not going to be able to improve.

If a fixed mindset is left unchecked long enough, it can eventually lead to a failure mindset, in which you believe you simply can’t overcome challenges.

Growth Mindset

Now let’s talk about the growth mindset. If you have this perspective you tend to see your levels of intelligence, skill, talent, and success as starting at a basic starting level but with the capacity to grow.

You believe that there are numerous stepping stones toward development and improvement. This mindset is founded on the belief that your basic qualities are cultivable and flexible things that can grow with dedication, time, and a commitment to getting better, smarter, and more talented.

If you have a growth mindset, you believe everyone can grow and change through application, exercise, and a lot of hard work.

Consider the intelligence example. If you have a growth mindset, you believe that you’re gifted with a certain amount of intelligence, but that you can also constantly improve that base level of intelligence. This will lead you to study, learn, and put the work into expanding your minds in order to become more intelligent.

Learning to have a growth mindset help create significant motivation and productivity in business, sports, education, relationships, and beyond.

As Bradley Busch wrote in The Guardian:

...research suggests having a growth mindset has other advantages, including coping better with transition, higher self-regulation, grit and pro-social behaviours. There is also evidence suggesting mental health benefits – those with a growth mindset have been found to be less aggressive, with higher self-esteem and fewer symptoms associated with depression and anxiety.

Your Mindset Determines Your Success

If you have a growth mindset, you’re much more likely to be successful. Why? Because you have the drive, willingness, and overall foundation of belief to aim for bigger, better things. If you have a fixed mindset, you’ll find yourself becoming stagnant, without the motivation to achieve anything greater than what you already have.

To quote Carol Dweck:

For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.

A fixed mindset will lead you to avoid challenges because they can make you feel inferior. On the flip side, if you have a growth mindset you thrive on challenges. You’ll learn to stretch yourself, seek improvement, and grow personally.

If you have a fixed mindset, you’ll also be tempted to let one setback define you forever. A bad grade, a failure at work, a break up – you’ll feel like all these are definitive in your life. However, if you have a growth mindset, you’ll take those setbacks and turn them into successes, learning from failure and bouncing back better than ever.

It’s All About Mindset

Have you ever had someone say to you, “It’s all about perspective,”? That’s what mindset is – the way you look at yourself, the people in your life, and the world around you.

If you have a growth mindset, you understand that the harder you work, the more drive you have, and the more optimism you use when facing the world, the more successful you’ll be.

Take a minute to consider yourself and your perception? Are you a fixed mindset person or do you have more of a growth mindset perspective?

Fortunately, you can change your mindset. Speaking about running transformed her life and mindset, Leah Culver said:

I’ve started to think of myself as a runner.

If you would have told me a year ago that I would be working out almost every day and running 100 miles a month I would never have believed you. Running really snuck up on me. I had modest aspirations and didn’t really care if I was great at running.

I just wanted to stick to my one goal: don’t quit.

Initially, Leah never thought she could run long distances. But as she began pushing her body, she realized just how capable she was. Her mindset changed, which led her to eventually run in marathons and hire a running coach.

The moral? If you change your mindset, you can change your life.