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Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

fixed vs growth mindsetOur mindset is crucial because it affects our ability to learn new skills and cope with everyday challenges as well as the way we think about everything. With the right mindset, it’ll be easier for us to get out of our comfort zones and achieve the most in life.

There are actually two types of mindsets that shape our growth, the fixed and growth mindset. The kind of mindset we have can either encourage us to grow or prevent us from growing.

What Is a Fixed Mindset?

A fixed mindset is often characterized by a person who believes that their qualities are fixed traits and can’t be changed. Someone who has this kind of mindset will have the notion that they’re either too good or bad at doing something and will not do anything about it because they’re firm that these traits can no longer be changed.

A person who has a fixed mindset can either say, “I’m a natural-born soccer player,” or “I’m just not good at dancing” and believe that their dancing skills can’t be developed over time. Individuals who have a fixed mindset are usually the people who will pick the blue pill in the Matrix movie; they would choose to remain in blissful ignorance rather than learn new skills or knowledge.

Some of the most common signs that we have a fixed mindset are:

  • We believe that our intelligence, capabilities, and traits are pre-determined, and there’s nothing we can do to change them.
  • We believe that success comes from natural talent.
  • We worry too much about not being as intelligent as everybody else and fear that we say the “wrong” thing when placed in new situations and/or with new persons.
  • We feel jealous or threatened whenever we see the success of other people.
  • We choose to avoid difficult situations or challenges because we don’t want to risk failure.
  • We are often discouraged from working on or achieving our goals whenever we meet even the smallest obstacle. We find these obstacles difficult to overcome and use them as reasons or signs for us to stop trying.
  • We don’t want to listen to any negative feedback or constructive criticism.

What Is a Growth Mindset?

A growth mindset is described as a person believing that their success heavily relies on their amount of time and effort given. A person with a growth mindset strongly believes that their intelligence and skills can still be improved as long as they stay persistent and exert effort. Having a growth mindset will encourage a person to embrace challenges, learn from criticism, and use the success of other people as their inspiration to thrive and succeed.

Instead of thinking that failure is the limit of our abilities, a growth mindset will allow us to look at failure as our opportunity to learn. Instead of fearing challenges, a growth mindset will help us utilize challenges as our avenues for personal and professional growth. People with this kind of mindset are those who choose the red pill in the Matrix movie; they would rather reveal an unpleasant or life-changing truth than remain stagnant in their lives.

We can confirm that we have a growth mindset if we possess the following:

  • We strongly believe that we can develop and change our abilities as long as we work hard for it.
  • We believe that our success and intelligence will increase when we put in a lot of effort.
  • We’re open to learning from others and asking questions from them, even if that requires us to admit that we don’t know something.
  • We’re inspired by the success of the people around us, as we believe that we can learn from them.
  • We’re willing to accept challenges and risks.
  • We consider failure as a learning opportunity for us to become better.
  • When we’re faced with obstacles, we remain persistent and use those obstacles as our motivation.
  • We take criticism as a learning opportunity.

How Can We Move From Having a Fixed to a Growth Mindset?

A fixed mindset is limiting, while a growth mindset means freedom, which is why we should aim to have the latter. Achieving this goal can be challenging, but it’s still very doable. There are actually many strategies that can help with this process, and as long as we’re ready to work, it won’t be long before our mindset shifts for the better.

Here’s how we can move from having a fixed to a growth mindset.

1. Tell a Different Story

The voice we use in talking to ourselves can either lift us up or bring us down. Sure, we might have friends and family to help us during difficult situations, but how we manifest our beliefs and react to certain situations will impact our ability to surpass challenges.

For us to have a growth mindset, we should tell ourselves a different story whenever we’re faced with challenges. Instead of saying, “I’m not good at it,” we should tell ourselves that “I can do better.” Instead of “It’s better to stick to what I know,” we should tell ourselves that “I want to explore new ideas.”

Shifting the language we use in our heads is the first step in changing our mindset. Once this practice becomes innate to us, it won’t be long before we’ll be able to have a growth mindset.

2. Set Learning Goals, Not Performance Goals

Setting goals is part of every person’s routine, but setting too many or setting ones that are unreasonable can prevent us from seeing our worth. When we’re too busy chasing goals, we might forget to highlight what we’ve learned during the process.

Another way for us to change our mindset is to set learning goals as opposed to performance goals. Instead of setting a goal to lose 45 pounds, we should commit to eating a healthy and well-balanced diet every day. Instead of working to become a professional runner, we should commit to running every day.

When we focus on the process instead of the outcome, we’ll be able to see improvements from our efforts. When we shift our mindset to wanting to learn every single day, we can consciously take a direction in life where our effort, practice, hard work, and persistence can become our keys to success.

3. Look at Failures Differently

If we want to succeed as a leader and in life in general, we should be able to look at failures differently. According to my book, people with a fixed mindset aren’t permanently trapped and can change their mindset over time.

Looking at failures differently can help us change our mindset from fixed to growth. Instead of running away or fearing failures, we should use these experiences by reviewing them and identifying why our plan didn’t work. This will allow us to create a plan that can help us improve and correct our mistakes.

After we’ve changed how we see failure, we can easily treat these experiences as our avenues to grow and learn instead of considering them as limitations to our abilities and intellect.

Use Other Resources

Transitioning from having a fixed mindset to a growth mindset can’t be done overnight, especially if you spent most of your life with a fixed mindset. This process will require a lot of time and effort, as we’ll likely come across several roadblocks along the way.

Aside from having the eagerness to change our mindset, it’s also important for us to utilize other resources to expedite the process. The Smartest Person in the Room: The Root Cause and New Solution for Cybersecurity can be a great guide for us to change our thinking behaviors and learn more about leadership.