Stop Keeping Score, Learn Instead



Stop keeping score. Learn instead.

What if you focused on learning instead of achievement?

You step into the tough stuff.

Instead of keeping track of your score, you focus on what you learn and how to improve.

You embrace challenges, struggles, criticisms and setback as a source of inspiration, learning, and growth.

That’s what happens when you exchange a fixed mindset for a growth mindset.

In the book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol Dweck explains how when you adopt a growth mindset, you focus on learning over achievement, and you set the stage to realize your potential.

Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset

In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits.  In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work.

Beware the Fixed Mindset

The fixed mindset locks you into an ideal self.  This breeds perfectionism and other habits that can work against facing your vulnerabilities, imperfections and growth opportunities in a healthy, open, and honest way.  A fixed mindset can be both limiting and fragile.

Via Mindset: The New Psychology of Success:

“The problem is that this new self — this all-competent, strong, good self that they now try to be — is likely to be a fixed-mindset self.  Over time, the fixed traits may come to be the person’s sense of who they are, and validating these traits may come to be the main source of self-esteem.”

Embrace Challenge, Struggle, Criticism, Setbacks

Adopting a growth mindset frees you up.  It makes you more resilient and free to explore your full potential.  But it’s not easy to let go of a self-image you’ve held on to for years.

Via Mindset: The New Psychology of Success:

“Mindset change asks people to give this up.  As you can imagine, it’s not easy to just let go of something that has felt like your ‘self’ for many years and that has given you your route to self-esteem.  And it’s especially not easy to replace it with a mindset that tells you to embrace all the things that have felt threatening:  challenge, struggle, criticism, setbacks.”

Give Up the Counters

Adopting a fixed mindset can be a painful process.  This is especially true if you’re used to rooting your self-esteem and self-image in a fixed mindset way.  Rather than keeping the score, you focus on learning and growth instead.

Via Mindset: The New Psychology of Success:

“When I was exchanging my fixed mindset for a growth one, I was acutely aware of how unsettled I felt.  For example, I’ve told you how as a fixed mindsetter, I kept track each day of all my successes.  At the end of a good day, I could look at the results (the high numbers on my intelligence ‘counter,’ my personality ‘counter,’ and so on) and feel good about myself. But as I adopted a growth mindset and stopped keeping track, some nights I would still check my mental counters and find them at zero.  It made me insecure not to be able to tote up my victories.”

Growth Makes You More Yourself

When you give up your fixed mindset, and your self-image that goes with it, as painful as it may be, it frees you up to become more of who you are and who you are capable of being.

Via Mindset: The New Psychology of Success:

“Then there’s the concern that you won’t be yourself anymore.  It may feel as though the fixed mindset gave you your ambition, your edge, your individuality.  Maybe you fear you’ll become a bland cog in the wheel just like everyone else.  Ordinary.

But opening yourself up to growth makes you more yourself, not less.  The growth-oriented scientists, artists, athletes, and CEOs we’ve looked at were far from humanoids going through the motions.  They were people in the full flower of their individuality and potency.”

Adopt a growth mindset and free yourself up to realize your potential and all that you’re capable of.

Your growth and greatness will come from what you learn, not the scores you achieve.

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Image by Charlie Cowins.


  1. This is an excellent article and a philosophy that can be applied to all aspects of life. I work with people everyday who are constantly counting calories, steps, reps,carbs, fats, etc. and checking with the scale to see how they’re doing. They become so ‘fixed’ on the results they forget what they’re doing it for. Sometimes I get stuck on how to move them forward. This came at a perfect time. I will be sharing your insights with them. Thank you.

    • Those are some great examples where it’s not the score, it’s the learning.

      Ideally, they keep finding some small way to change what they think, feel, or do, on a daily basis. Success, then is dynamic, and it’s a by-product of learning better moves to make in the moments that count.

  2. Earlier this year, I decided to put more focus on improving my public speaking skill and signed up to speak at 12 group that I have not visited before. I absolutely believe in a saying by Robert Frost, “The best way out is always through.”

    ughhh… The moment of emotional setback of frustration and feeling upset because of what I wish I did/said/etc instead of what I actually did/said. Self-criticism and the emotional setback totally got me. I experienced the taste of limiting and fragile emotional response the fixed mindset can create. One good insight came to me though… It seems like the fixed mindset affects my weakness more.

    I normally embrace the growth mindset. I enjoy seeing how far I’ve come, lesson learned, and what I can improve. I believe in the growth mindset, but I don’t act from it sometimes. Identifying ‘the moment of fixed mindset’ as my friction and finding ways to tackle it should bring me back to the growth mindset. It is actually awesome that I can isolate ‘fixed mindset response’ as a separate challenge from public speaking practice.

    This article came to be at a perfect timing just like Karens28. I am going to read the feedback from the last few speaking engagement to take a look at inspiration, lessons learned and my growth. I still have 9 more visits to go…

    • > It seems like the fixed mindset affects my weakness more.
      Beautiful insight.

      A voice teacher I know says the most important thing about speaking well is breath.

      Breathe deeply so you are strong, calm, and confident.
      It helps your voice be heard.
      Otherwise, you words fall down without the air to lift them.

      Also, imagine yourself centered.
      Whether it’s to make a great point, or simply to say with confidence that you have nothing to say at all.

      I think Tony Robbins had a trick where he would put himself in a great state by squeezing one of his fingers. He created an anchor when he was in the zone, and then used that get himself back there whenever he spoke.

      He really emphasizes physiology, and I think with your new insight, now you see, (I mean *feel*), why.

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