Career Guide

Fixed mindset vs growth mindset

Are you limiting yourself from reaching your full potential?

As you grow older, what have you successfully changed about yourself to live a more fulfilling life?

Are there new habits, skills, or even character traits that you hope to make part of your arsenal? Do you think changing certain parts of yourself is even possible?

If you are having a hard time answering the last question – or, your answer is a resounding no – you may be giving power to a “fixed mindset”.

According to professor of psychology at Stanford University Carol Dweck, when we have a “fixed mindset”, we assume our intelligence, creative abilities, and character are static givens; and that we are unable to change ourselves in meaningful ways.

Dweck, also author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, asserts that this mindset can affect much of our professional and personal behaviour, as well as how much or how often we feel happy.

Signs you have a fixed mindset

l When you come across success, you consider it to be an affirmation of intelligence that is inherent.

l You give up easily.

l You avoid failure at all costs, while striving for success.

l You view failure as an indication of how unintelligent you are, not as an opportunity for growth.

l You strongly resist any sort of challenge.

l You often ignore useful negative feedback.

l You view the success of others as a threat instead of as a source of inspiration or lessons to be learnt.

As Dweck says, 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”.

If the view you have for yourself is fixed, you are at risk of achieving less than your full potential.

The solution?

Cultivating a growth mindset

Understand that you can always learn, improve, and get better at anything you set your mind to.

Be open to new ideas and pursue change – don’t stay fixed in the “safety” of the status quo.

Experiment and take chances. Start small and build on your success.

Don’t be discouraged by failure. Pick yourself up and try again.

In fact, when you operate under a growth mindset, you may not actually ever see yourself as failing – you’ll see yourself as learning instead.

Every day is a new day, filled with infinite possibilities.

Let go of your past successes – and failures – to grow and succeed in the future. You can do it.

As my friend and Olympian, Adam Kreek, so wisely says:

“Reflect, learn, grow – let it go.”

Peter Economy has written more than 80 books on a variety of business and leadership topics. You can read more of his leadership articles at To connect with him, email us at

If more of us can be open about our failures and show how they’ve helped lead us to where we are today, perhaps we will come to realise that failure is a stepping stone along the path of self-knowledge and learning. Let’s remember that failure is not the end of the world. Check out this article on at:

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