There’s no denying that our thoughts play a massive role in the outcome of our lives. Our thoughts become our words and actions, which then become our habits. Our habits are what shape our character and essentially create our destiny.
So, if we have the power to achieve what we want, why are there people who constantly win at life while others encounter failure after failure? The answer is that the latter has a fixed mindset, whereas the former has a growth mindset. Every successful person who has achieved greatness has also had many failures in the past. But the reason they got to where they are today is because of how they viewed and handled those challenges.
Once you learn the difference between growth mindset vs fixed mindset, you’ll soon release how you’re holding yourself back. So let’s explore the differences between these two perspectives.
- What Is a Fixed Mindset?
- What Is a Growth Mindset?
- Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset: Examples
- How to Develop a Growth Mindset
- Final Thoughts
What Is a Fixed Mindset?
A fixed mindset is a limiting way of thinking. People with fixed mindsets believe that if they are not good at something now, they will never be. They believe their skills, intelligence, abilities, and success is static and cannot be changed. Essentially, they think that things are the way they are and believe they have no control over their destiny.
People with fixed mindsets give up at the first hurdle they encounter and let struggles and failures bring them down to the point that they refuse to try again. After one defeat, they will avoid all challenges and stay in their comfort zone where things are safe and predictable. This is how they limit themselves from reaching their potential.
Someone with a fixed mindset will see successful people as a threat or feel jealous of them. Moreover, they view criticism or negative feedback as a personal attack and refuse to acknowledge it.
What Is a Growth Mindset?
A growth mindset leads to improvement, evolution, and freedom. People with growth mindsets believe that they can improve their skills, talents, and abilities, learn new things, and become more successful. They understand that they have control over their destiny and are the ones “steering the wheel.”
Someone with a growth mindset will see challenges from a totally different perspective as someone with a fixed state of mind. They embrace challenges, seeing them as an opportunity to improve and grow. They do not give up when they encounter difficulties or failure; instead, this motivates them to try again. They are not afraid to push themselves outside of their comfort zone as they know this is where real growth lies. By doing things that make them feel uncomfortable, they know they will develop the skills and abilities to reach their goals.
People with growth mindsets don’t see other people as threats, no matter how successful they are. Instead, they feel inspired by others’ successes and are open to receiving negative feedback. They view any criticism as constructive and see it as insight into how they can become better.
Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset: Examples
Here are a few examples of growth mindset vs fixed mindset to help you understand the difference between the two.
Fixed mindset: “I am not good at playing the piano and will never be.”
Growth mindset: “The more I practice this, the more I will improve.”
Fixed mindset: “This isn’t working. No matter how long I spend studying Spanish, I will never be able to speak it.”
Growth mindset: “I am struggling to learn this way. I need to try a more effective method.”
Fixed mindset: “They are criticizing me just to hurt me so I won’t speak to them anymore.”
Growth mindset: “What can I learn from this constructive feedback, and how can I use it to improve myself?”
Fixed mindset: “I already know how to cook. I don’t need to take cooking classes.”
Growth mindset: “There’s always room for improvement, and taking classes will help me become even better.”
Fixed mindset: “They are lucky because they were born smart. That’s how they became so successful.”
Growth mindset: “No one is born smart. They put in a lot of hard work to get to where they are today.”
How to Develop a Growth Mindset
The benefits of having a growth mindset are clear to see. Thinking from this perspective will give you greater motivation, improve your problem solving, feel more confident in yourself, and enjoy the satisfaction of achieving your goals.
If you feel that you are stuck in a fixed mindset, don’t despair. Everyone can change their thinking patterns and rewire their brains for success. Of course, it won’t happen overnight, but by doing the following things, you’ll notice your perspective shifting over time.
1. Study How the Brain Works
If you don’t believe that you can learn new skills and improve your existing ones, study the basics of how the brain works. Familiarise yourself with the term “neuroplasticity.” Neuroscience shows that our brains continue to develop and change throughout our entire lives.
Like plastic, your brain can be remodeled over time as you form new neural pathways by learning new skills and developing new habits. Therefore, science proves that you can grow new connections (by learning new things) and strengthen existing ones (by regularly practicing something).
2. Change Your Self-Talk From Negative to Positive
People with fixed mindsets regularly tell themselves that they are not good enough. But, unfortunately, your negative inner voice is what’s stopping you from developing a growth mindset and moving forward.
Start to listen to your thoughts and notice when you speak poorly to yourself in this way. For example, if you’re trying to learn something new and having difficulty, you may hear your inner voice telling you it’s no good as you are not smart enough. Catch yourself and change that message to something more positive, like “Everything is difficult at first, but the more time I dedicate to this, the easier it will become.”
This process takes time, and you won’t catch and change all the negative thoughts. Still, consistently doing this is the first step to rewiring those old, worn-out neural pathways.
3. Focus On the Process Rather Than the Results
If you have a fixed mindset, chances are you focus on the end goal and see the process of getting there as an inconvenience. Perhaps you start to get impatient if something takes longer than you anticipated. On the other hand, people with growth mindsets have a clear vision of the end goal but focus on the process itself.
So how can you make yourself enjoy the process? By rewarding yourself for completing small actions. When you do something that requires a significant amount of effort or pushes you out of your comfort zone, see this as a small win. For example, if you want to learn how to dance, reward yourself for going to your first class, even if you feel that you did terribly. Rewarding and appreciating these small efforts will give you the motivation you need to keep going.
4. Ask For (And Accept) Constructive Feedback
It’s easier said than done, but to develop a growth mindset, you need to become more receptive to people’s feedback. Of course, I’m not saying to listen to everything everyone says, especially not passing comments that hold no value.
Instead, ask for feedback from people you trust and look up to, who you see have a growth mindset. When someone you value the opinion of gives you advice, it’s easier to take it positively and productively instead of automatically dismissing it. This way, you can understand where you can improve and what you need to do to get better.
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Growth-minded people believe that as human beings, we never stop learning and growing. No matter how old you are or where you come from, personal development is always available. So start implementing these steps today and change your limited way of thinking to a perspective of possibility and freedom.