Mindset: Fixed vs. Growth


“The view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life.”  Carol Dweck

Yet another brainstorming book I’ve read in March by Carol S. Dweck – Mindset that I advise everyone to read. We judge ourselves and others based on appearances, attributes, traits and more. What are the consequences and effects of having fixed mindset or growth mindset? Do you have both of them in you or sometimes act with fixed and sometimes with growth mindset? Carol S. Dweck takes you to an interesting journey discovering the realms of the two mindsets. Here are my takes from the book;

As a starter, below illustration will outline approaches both mindsets take against different phenomena.


As clearly described the 2 mindsets take things differently. For a fixed mindset, success of others is a validation of your failure, however the growth mindset takes it as a source of learning and appreciation.

I, too am observing this approach by people in everyday life. Some people are inertly negative (fixed mindset trait) taking every happening around them in negative ways and deploying all judgments they have in mind or simply labelling other side’s intelligence , personality , character and more.


Growth vs. Fixed Mindset

There are bold lines between growth and fixed mindset settings. View of challenge, resilience to obstacles and love of effort. Both mindsets take a unique stand against them.

“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.”

“The other thing exceptional people seem to have is a special talent for converting life’s setbacks into future successes.”


Entering a Mindset

“When you enter a mindset, you enter a new world. In one world—the world of fixed traits—success is about proving you’re smart or talented. Validating yourself. In the other—the world of changing qualities—it’s about stretching yourself to learn something new. Developing yourself”

“In one world, failure is about having a setback. Getting a bad grade. Losing a tournament. Getting fired. Getting rejected. It means you’re not smart or talented. In the other world, failure is about not growing. Not reaching for the things you value. It means you’re not fulfilling your potential. In one world, effort is a bad thing. It, like failure, means you’re not smart or talented. If you were, you wouldn’t need effort. In the other world, effort is what makes you smart or talented.

You have a choice. Mindsets are just beliefs. They’re powerful beliefs, but they’re just something in your mind, and you can change your mind.


If You Have Ability, Why Should You Need Learning?

“Actually, people with the fixed mindset expect ability to show up on its own, before any learning takes place. After all, if you have it you have it, and if you don’t you don’t.”

“Becoming is better than being.” The fixed mindset does not allow people the luxury of becoming. They have to already be.”


Another Look at Potential

“This leads us back to the idea of “potential” and to the question of whether tests or experts can tell us what our potential is, what we’re capable of, what our future will be. The fixed mindset says yes. You can simply measure the fixed ability right now and project it into the future. Just give the test or ask the expert. No crystal ball needed.”

“People with the growth mindset know that it takes time for potential to flower.”


Proving You Are Special

Another fixed mindset trap; constant validation of self, seeing yourself worthier than others.

“When people with the fixed mindset opt for success over growth, what are they really trying to prove? That they’re special. Even superior.”

“Until I discovered the mindsets and how they work, I, too, thought of myself as more talented than others, maybe even more worthy than others because of my endowments. The scariest thought, which I rarely entertained, was the possibility of being ordinary. This kind of thinking led me to need constant validation. Every comment, every look was meaningful—it registered on my intelligence scorecard, my attractiveness scorecard, my likability scorecard. If a day went well, I could bask in my high numbers.”

“If you’re successful, you’re better than other people. You get to abuse them and have them grovel. In the fixed mindset, this is what can pass for self-esteem.”



“When people believe in fixed traits (fixed mindset), they are always in danger of being measured by a failure. It can define them in a permanent way. Smart or talented as they may be, this mindset seems to rob them of their coping resources.

When people believe their basic qualities can be developed (growth mindset), failures may still hurt, but failures don’t define them. And if abilities can be expanded—if change and growth are possible—then there are still many paths to success.”


Meaning of Effort

“Americans aren’t the only people who disdain effort. French executive Pierre Chevalier says, “We are not a nation of effort. After all, if you have savoir-faire [a mixture of know-how and cool], you do things effortlessly.”

People with the growth mindset, however, believe something very different. For them, even geniuses have to work hard for their achievements. And what’s so heroic, they would say, about having a gift? They may appreciate endowment, but they admire effort, for no matter what your ability is, effort is what ignites that ability and turns it into accomplishment.

“The idea of trying and still failing—of leaving yourself without excuses—is the worst fear within the fixed mindset.”


Why is Effort So Terrifying?

“There are two reasons. One is that in the fixed mindset, great geniuses are not supposed to need it. So just needing it casts a shadow on your ability. The second is that, as Nadja suggests, it robs you of all your excuses. Without effort, you can always say, “I could have been                                                                          [fill in the blank].” But once you try, you can’t say that anymore.”

That’s why people with fixed mindset prefer to stay idle in situations actually requiring action, rather than making an effort at all.


High Effort: The Big Risk

“From the point of view of the fixed mindset, effort is only for people with deficiencies. And when people already know they’re deficient, they have nothing to lose by trying. But if your claim to fame is not having any deficiencies—if you’re considered a genius, a talent, or a natural—then you have a lot to lose. Effort can reduce you.”


Growth in the Face of Obstacles

All successful (growth minded) athletes, businessmen and artists have one thing in common: embrace obstacles and turn it into growth opportunity.

“This point is crucial: The growth mindset does allow people to love what they’re doing—and to continue to love it in the face of difficulties. The growth-minded athletes, CEOs, musicians, or scientists all loved what they did, whereas many of the fixed-minded ones did not.”

“Many growth-minded people didn’t even plan to go to the top. They got there as a result of doing what they love. It’s ironic: The top is where the fixed-mindset people hunger to be, but it’s where many growth-minded people arrive as a by-product of their enthusiasm for what they do.”



“The fixed mindset limits achievement. It fills people’s minds with interfering thoughts, it makes effort disagreeable, and it leads to inferior learning strategies. What’s more, it makes other people into judges instead of allies. Whether we’re talking about Darwin or college students, important achievements require a clear focus, all-out effort, and a bottomless trunk full of strategies. Plus allies in learning.”


Fixed Mindset = Finished Product

“ In the fixed mindset, you don’t take control of your abilities and your motivation. You look for your talent to carry you through, and when it doesn’t, well then, what else could you have done? You are not a work in progress, you’re a finished product. And finished products have to protect themselves, lament, and blame. Everything but take charge.”


Leadership in 2 Mindsets

“When bosses become controlling and abusive, they put everyone into a fixed mindset. This means that instead of learning, growing, and moving the company forward, everyone starts worrying about being judged. ”

“As growth-minded leaders, they start with a belief in human potential and development—both their own and other people’s. Instead of using the company as a vehicle for their greatness, they use it as an engine of growth—for themselves, the employees, and the company as a whole.”


Change Management

True self confidence is not defending status quo for its own sake but rather being open for change.

“True self-confidence is “the courage to be open—to welcome change and new ideas regardless of their source.” Real self-confidence is not reflected in a title, an expensive suit, a fancy car, or a series of acquisitions. It is reflected in your mindset: your readiness to grow”

Mindsets in Action


People with the fixed mindset expect everything good to happen automatically. It’s not that the partners will work to help each other solve their problems or gain skills. It’s that this will magically occur through their love, sort of the way it happened to Sleeping Beauty, whose coma was cured by her prince’s kiss, or to Cinderella, whose miserable life was suddenly transformed by her prince.”

“In the growth mindset, there may still be that exciting initial combustion, but people in this mindset don’t expect magic. They believe that a good, lasting relationship comes from effort and from working through inevitable differences.”

“A no-effort relationship is a doomed relationship, not a great relationship. It takes work to communicate accurately and it takes work to expose and resolve conflicting hopes and beliefs. It doesn’t mean there is no “they lived happily ever after,” but it’s more like “they worked happily ever after.”

“When people with a fixed mindset talk about their conflicts, they assign blame. Sometimes they blame themselves, but often they blame their partner. And they assign blame to a trait—a character flaw.”

“So once people with the fixed mindset see flaws in their partners, they become contemptuous of them and dissatisfied with the whole relationship. (People with the growth mindset, on the other hand, can see their partners’ imperfections and still think they have a fine relationship.)”



A true test for real friendship comes from your successes and assets, not failures;

“Your failures and misfortunes don’t threaten other people’s self-esteem. Ego-wise, it’s easy to be sympathetic to someone in need. It’s your assets and your successes that are problems for people who derive their self-esteem from being superior.”

This is a strong statement, take time to reflect on it, I found it really wise and practical.


Parents with Children

“Praising children’s intelligence harms their motivation and it harms their performance.”

“How can that be? Don’t children love to be praised?

Yes, children love praise. And they especially love to be praised for their intelligence and talent. It really does give them a boost, a special glow—but only for the moment. The minute they hit a snag, their confidence goes out the window and their motivation hits rock bottom. If success means they’re smart, then failure means they’re dumb. That’s the fixed mindset.”

So what’s the alternative to praising talent or intelligence?

“We should keep away from a certain kind of praise—praise that judges their intelligence or talent. Or praise that implies that we’re proud of them for their intelligence or talent rather than for the work they put in.”

In short our praise to our children should deal with his efforts and achievements not personal attributes or intelligence.


Way Forward

If you see signs of fixed mindset in yourself and want to evolve to become a growth mindset person, this is the way forward;

– Make a concrete, growth-oriented plan and stick to it

– Clearly visualise how you can carry out your plan

Continuous effort, a little more everyday.


Favourite take from the book:

“Many people with the fixed mindset think the world needs to change, not them. They feel entitled to something better—a better job, house, or spouse. The world should recognise their special qualities and treat them accordingly”

Probably you hear like yourself echoing to the last piece , at least I felt so. Time to embrace growth mindset, it is time to make little change each day, everyday.

Wish you all a great read!

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