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Fixed vs. Growth Mindset


Dr. Carol Dweck has studied the role that mindsets play in life for a majority of her career. Through her studies, she has come up with two basic mindsets that people fall into: a growth mindset or a fixed mindset.


A growth mindset is a mindset that allows information to flow through. People who have a growth mindset tend to be more positive. They understand that intelligence can be developed and added to if needed. They embrace challenges and view them as opportunities for growth.


Individuals who have a growth mindset tend to put in effort that will lead to lifelong learning. They also tend to accept and digest criticism from peers. Often, they find stories of others’ success as inspirational, and will push their own limits to succeed. You can observe a growth mindset in many workplace examples such as the manager who collaborates with industrial-organizational psychologists to ensure a positive work environment for employees. Or the food server who continues to search for ways to overcome workplace obstacles instead of allowing such obstacles to limit her ability to move into a lead server position. These types of people not only acknowledge their shortcomings, but understand that there may be areas that need improvement.


A fixed mindset lies on the opposite side of the spectrum. Whereas growth mindsets allow information to flow through, fixed mindsets have a hard time learning from experiences. They tend to engage in black and white thinking, perhaps believing that people are either intelligent or unintelligent, with no real ability to change. They may use excuses such as, “I am not smart enough” or “I lack the ability.” The fixed-mindset individual will often avoid challenges or they may give up easily once they have faced resistance. They also tend to have a difficult time with constructive-criticism.


Those with a fixed-mindset may feel threatened by the success of others, and not take part in celebrations for their peers. They almost never achieve their full potential, as fear, insecurity, uncertainty, arrogance, or discouragement prevents them from doing so. Workplace examples of a fixed mindset person include the waitress who refuses to attend any additional trainings and believes that they are good as they can ever be, or the manager who is dismissive of employee needs, demands things to be done a certain way, and refuses to listen to feedback. These people view their current situation as out of their control and that there is nothing they can do to promote change.


It may be clear to you by now that having a growth mindset is the preferred mindset, but how do you change your mindset, especially when you have spent your entire life operating from a fixed mindset? Well the first step is awareness and owning up to the possibility that change is needed. Don’t be afraid to acknowledge your imperfections, they are there to help us grow! Take charge of your mind and change your inner dialogue. Next time you encounter a defeating thought, ask yourself “How can I reframe this into something more positive?”


Here are a list of character defects. Go through this list and ask yourself if any of these defects have caused you to stay stuck in a fixed mindset. If so, what are some changes you can make today that will shift your mindset? -Resentment, Anger -Fear, Cowardice -Self-pity -Self-importance, Egotism -Guilt -Lying, Dishonesty -Impatience -Hate -Denial -Jealousy -Laziness -Procrastination -Negative Thinking -Perfectionism, Intolerance -Criticizing, Gossip -Greed


If you are struggling with a fixed mindset, wanting to move towards growth, or find yourself building up resentments, it may be time to schedule an appointment so that you can talk to a therapist about ways you can make positive changes. Call 253 Therapy and Consult today for a free 15-minute consult and start your journey towards growth today!


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