Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset


image“All the world is a laboratory to the inquiring mind.” — Martin H. Fischer

Do you have a Growth Mindset or a Fixed Mindset?

A Fixed Mindset is where you believe you are either good or you are not.  It’s a static view.

With a Fixed Mindset, you depend on innate ability, and you don’t think that your ability will change.

A Growth Mindset is a learning mindset.  It’s a dynamic view.  With a Growth Mindset, you believe you can change, and that things can change.

A Growth Mindset is a Learning Mindset

One of the things that can hold you back is a fixed mindset.

If you have a fixed mindset, you attribute results to innate ability and you discount learning.  You think people are naturally good at what they do, and either they have it or they don’t.

A growth mindset is a learning mindset.  It’s the belief that you can improve at whatever you do through the right training. 

And yes, you can teach an old dog, new tricks.

17 Ways to Build a Growth Mindset

Here’s a set of practices and mindsets that I’ve found to be effective for getting in the game, or getting back in the game, or learning a new game versus just watching from the side-lines.

    1. Swap out a fixed mindset with a growth mindset.

    To do this, focus on learning and improving, not innate ability.  (See The Effort Effect.)

    2. Call it an "Experiment." 

    This sounds like a trivial frame game, but I see it work for myself and others.

    3. Treat perfection as a path, not a destination. 

    If you’re a "perfectionist," (like I "was", er "am, er … still fighting it), you know what I mean.

    4. Use little improvements over time. 

    Focus on little improvements and distinctions over time, versus instant success.  It’s consistent action over time that produces the greatest results. 

    You’re probably a master of your craft, whatever it is you do each day, every day.  John Wooden focused his team on continuous, individual improvement and created the winningest team in history.

    5. Remind Yourself That You Are Growing or Dying. 

    You’re either climbing or sliding, there’s no in-between (and the slide down is faster than the climb up!)

    6. Try Again. 

    If at first you don’t succeed, don’t just give up.  Remember folks like Thomas Edison, who "failed" many, many times before finding "success" (it’s a part of innovation)

    7. Focus on Lessons Over Failures.

    Remind yourself there are no failures; only lessons (one more way how "not" to do something)

    8. Fail Fast, Fail Early, Fail Often.

    The faster you "fail", the faster you learn.

    Just don’t keep making the same mistakes.  If it’s not working, change your approach.

    9. Don’t Take Yourself or Life Too Seriously. 

    If you take yourself too seriously, you’ll never get out alive!

    10. Learn to Bounce Back.

    It’s not that you don’t get knocked down, it’s that you get back up.  (Just like the song, "I get knocked down, but I get up again")

    12. Give yourself time. 

    A lot of times the difference between results is time.  If you only chase instant successes, you miss out on opportunities. Walk, crawl, run. 

    Or, if you’re like me, sprint and sprint again 😉

    13. Start with Something Small. 

    Build momentum.  Jumping an incremental set of hurdles is easier than scaling a giant wall.   See Start with Something Simple.

    14. Build on What You Know. 

    Now matter where you are or what you do, you take yourself with you.  Bring your game wherever you go.

    15. Learn to like what growth feels like.  

    I used to hate the pain of my workouts.  Now, I know that’s what growth feels like.  The better I got at some things, the more I hated how awkward I was at some new things.  Now I like awkward and new things.  It’s growth.

    16. Find a Mentor or Coach. 

    It doesn’t have to be official.  Find somebody who’s great at what you want to learn.  Most people like sharing how they got good at what they do.  It’s their pride and joy.  I used to wonder where the "mentors" are. Then I realized, they’re all around me every day.

    17. Have a Learning Approach.

    For me, I use 30 Day Improvement Sprints.  Timeboxes, little improvements at a time, and focus go a long way for results.  I use 30 Day Improvement Sprints to add experiences or skills  I cycle through a new improvement sprint each month, so each year I get 12 new themes of focus for each month.

      There’s a lot more I could say, but I think this is bite-sized working set to chew on for now.

      More Information

      The Effort Effect – This article exposes the truth behind "you can’t teach an old dog new tricks" and whether all-stars are born or made (nature vs. nurture.) 

      If you have kids, this article is particularly important. 

      Adopting a growth mind-set over a fixed mind-set can have enormous impact.

      You Might Also Like

      Fear of Failure, Fear of Weakness, Fear of Who You Are

      Why It’s Great to Be Able to Make Mistakes

      30 Day Improvement Sprints

      Improvement Frame

      How to Overcome Resistance


      1. If I had to be great at everything I tried I’d never get out out bed. WAIT! That didn’t come out right. I mean I’d stick my head in the sand and stay there.

        What an absolutely wonderful and inspirational post. One to print out and keep close at hand, for sure.

        Okay, off now to “fail fast” at my guitar pratice, so I grow instead of die!

      2. I think it would be very boring to be good at everything, you’d have no challenges or things you’d like to improve.

      3. @ Jannie


        What rocks is you’re growing in your passion … and you can’t beat that.

        @ Louisa

        Yeah, being good at everything gets boring. That’s what all the perfect people tell me (when they let me hang out with them.) Luckily, I’m blessed with a bunch of flawes to work on 😉

      4. The trick of things, I think, is to learn to stumble often without falling nearly as often. It’s easy to remain comfortable, but, as you say, we don’t grow when we’re comfortable. Actually, I grow horizontally and gravitationally, but that’s another story entirely.

        Great post!

      5. @ Charlie

        That’s a great way to put it. Additionally, maybe learning some good judo rolls help too, so when you do fall, it’s easier to bounce back up 😉

      Comments are closed.