top of page

Fixed Versus Growth Mindset

This year I’ve written over 30 blog posts, recorded 13 episodes on my podcast and posted over 16 videos. If you really look at it, they are such small numbers, but for me this is huge. Doing each and one of these tasks this year has pushed me completely out of my comfort zone.

I’ve always been a people person, an avid advocate for mental health and wellbeing and it was such a natural transition for me when I moved from being a social entrepreneur to a mentor at the Cherie Blair Foundation and a life coach. I believe I’m a great coach and can transform lives. But a writer, I’m not. I never was. There are many days I cringe at my writing style, grammar and punctuation. And don’t even get me started on my podcast or videos.

The point is if I adopted a fixed mindset, one that said I could never write then I would not have even written one post this year. My growth mindset tells me that although I’m not the perfect writer, I can get better by writing. My growth mindset asks me to learn from mistakes, not wait for validation or perfect pieces, but to write and write bravely.

I’ll give you another example from my life. When I was young and in school, I absolutely hated sports. I dreaded all forms of it and found any excuse to get out of my P.E. classes. My worst nightmare was tracks – I always came last. I believed that I could never be an athlete. That was my fixed mindset. Fast-forward a good 15 years and my mindset shifted from - I’ve never been a good athlete but let me challenge myself and try.

Today I’m not a super fast athlete or anything like that but I’ve trained myself physically and mentally to run and with this training I’ve built great endurance for long distance running.

I can go on and on and site many examples from my life but instead I’ll say this with absolute confidence – every single shift I made was only through a change in mindset. Shifting from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.

A lot of us function with our fixed mindsets and most of the time we are not even aware of it. My first introduction to fixed and growth mindset came during a CBT class I attended. I was introduced to this concept when I started learning about healthy and unhealthy thinking styles. Around the same time I was also introduced to Carol Dweck’s book – Mindset. It’s a fascinating read and over the years I’ve taken away so much from it.

Carol Dweck talks about success in school, work, sports, the arts, and almost every area of human endeavour that can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities. People with a fixed mindset—those who believe that abilities are fixed—are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset—those who believe that abilities can be developed. The book reveals how great parents, teachers, managers, and athletes can put this idea to use to foster outstanding accomplishment.

I want to share 5 mindset examples from her book and show you the difference between a growth mindset and a fixed one. Spend a few minutes, go through each of them and use this exercise to see where you fit.

Growth Mindset: I can learn anything I want to.

Fixed Mindset: I am either good at it or I’m not.

Growth Mindset: When I’m frustrated, I persevere.

Fixed Mindset: When I’m frustrated, I give up.

Growth Mindset: When I fail, I learn.

Fixed Mindset: When I fail, I’m no good.

Growth Mindset: I like to challenge myself.

Fixed Mindset: I don’t like to be challenged.

Growth Mindset: I like being told I try hard.

Fixed Mindset: I like being told that I’m smart.

In Mindset, Dweck writes – Changing our beliefs can have a powerful impact. The growth mindset creates a powerful passion for learning. “Why waste time proving over and over how great you are,” Dweck writes, “when you could be getting better?” Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? And why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”

If this post today has aroused your curiosity around this topic and you want to learn more on how to adopt a growth mindset then I highly recommend you put Carol Dweck’s book on your reading list. Her work is simply outstanding. A life coach or a change work professional can also work with you deeply in this area and offer you tools and frameworks to help shift your mindset.

I'm Poornima Nair, Certified Life Coach, NLP Practitioner, Founder of Live Authentic Coaching and a Mentor with The Cherie Blair Foundation. If you are curious about coaching, interested in being nurtured, inspired and pushed to your edge, to discover and create the relationships, career, lifestyle, finances you are longing for, please reach out to me for a taster of what great coaching does to foster the clarity, mindset, qualities and skills that will allow you to breakthrough.

bottom of page