The question of whether you have a growth mindset or a fixed mindset is something that deserves reflection–we should all ponder it. If you’re wondering which one you have, let’s start with what they are.
In short, a growth mindset is a belief that people’s talents, intelligence, and habits can develop over time with practice and experience. Meanwhile, a fixed mindset is the belief that these things can never be developed or changed. When we mirror aspects of growth and fixed mindsets side by side, we get a
Growth Mindset VS Fixed Mindset
GROWTH: Understanding that the things you’re not good at now are things you can get better at with time and practice.
FIXED: Thinking your weak points can never be developed, improved, or changed.
GROWTH: Knowing a person’s success isn’t based on fixed talents and abilities that they’re born with.
FIXED: Thinking success is solely based on fixed talents and abilities and no/little effort.
GROWTH: Knowing that who you are is not determined by your success or failure. Therefore, instead of jumping to negative conclusions about yourself when you fail, you see failure as an opportunity to learn, grow, and improve (“Next time I’ll do a better job preparing, studying, getting enough rest…”).
FIXED: Jumping to negative conclusions about yourself whenever you fail at something (“I’m stupid, I’m not capable, I can’t do it…”).
Note: We can develop either fixed or growth mindset thinking in children when we make value judgments about them.
This can happen even when those value judgments are positive. For example, when they do well at something academic, a statement on their good effort and preparation is more appropriate. In saying things like “You’re so smart,” they develop a belief in fixed traits, and they undervalue their effort. Furthermore, it sets the stage for the exact opposite conclusion (“I guess I’m stupid”) when they do fall short.
Why is having a growth mindset so important?
Whether or not you believe change is possible with time and effort can lead to either bothering or not bothering to take positive action steps toward that change. It can lead to either developing positive or negative habits, reaching or not reaching your full potential, and having or not having the motivation you need to pursue any dreams you might have. Taking things further, it can mean the difference between whether you’re more prone to hopelessness (“It is what it is”) or hopefulness (“It is possible. This can get better”).
So if you find yourself having any of the fixed mindset thinking and beliefs described above, immediately replace them with those characterized by a growth mindset. Making this small change in thinking can have a big impact on how much potential you can envision in yourself as well as in your future.