Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset

Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset

I recently published the articles WHAT IS MINDSET and WHY MINDSET MATTERS.

In this piece I’d like to explore the Fixed and Growth Mindset theory developed by Dr. Carol Dweck, PhD, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University. The initial focus of Dweck’s research was to explore her students’ ability to cope with failure and to develop intelligence and talent. Over the years she expanded the scope of her work, with the latest edition of her book Mindset including an entire chapter dedicated to Organisational Mindset.

fixed mindset person believes that intelligence, talent, personality, moral character or ability are fixed – someone is either smart or they are not – rather than something that can be developed over time. Those with fixed mindsets see challenges as roadblocks and may give up on tasks before they have to face them. They believe people’s qualities are carved in stone. This mindset creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over.

growth mindset is about being dedicated to hard work, effort, persistence and staying curious, while learning and seeking new challenges is cherished. Growth mindset can be learnt and helps people to be motivated and to succeed. People with a growth mindset hold the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts; the hand you’re dealt in life is just a starting point for your development. Those with growth mindsets relish moments of failure, different obstacles and challenges throughout life as opportunities to grow and develop. We can foster a growth mindset in others by the type of feedback we give and by teaching them about the brain’s huge potential. Role models give people evidence of growth mindset in action.

The following table outlines the major differences between Fixed and Growth Mindset:

Matrix with facts about Fixed and Growth Mindset

Below are some facts according to the latest research:


1.    Tend to create learning goals.

2.    Step outside their comfort zone.

3.    Try new ways of doing things.

4.    When faced with a difficult task do not blame their intellect.

5.    Believe that learning goals relate to mastery and competence and lead to increased performance.

6.    Believe that scores measure current performance and not their potential.

7.    Look for alternate pathways.


1.    Tend to create performance goals.

2.    Do not pay attention to learning.

3.    Blame themselves for their failure.

4.    Self-esteem is contingent upon their success – “I am stupid”.

5.    Believe that a person’s potential can be measured.

6.    Look for validation from others.

7.    Continue to use the same incorrect or ineffective strategy when faced with a problem.


  • Tip #1 – Acknowledge and embrace imperfection.
  • Tip #2 – Stop seeking approval from others.
  • Tip #3 – Cultivate a sense of purpose.

For more tips on how to cultivate a Growth Mindset check this article.


As Carol Dweck elaborated in her book Mindset, it is possible and very common that people will have a growth mindset in one area of their lives and a fixed mindset in another.


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To learn more:

  • What is Mindset ?

  • Why Mindset Maters

  • Dr. Carol Dweck at Google

  • HBR | What Having a Growth Mindset Actually means?

  • Brain-pickings | The 2 Mindsets that shapes Your Life

  • Dr. Carol Dweck TED Talk

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