Growth Mindset - A pair of hand holding soil in the palm of his with a plant growing out of the soil.

Explore Fixed and Growth Mindsets

Lately, I have heard a lot of talk of having a growth mindset versus having a fixed mindset. However, for those of you who have not heard anything regarding the growth mindset, in an article I read on, Dr. Carol Dweck describes two main ways people think about intelligence. The article states that most people believe that their intelligence is fixed and static and therefore believe that we have a fixed mindset. In contrast, other people believe that human intelligence and talent can be improved through effort and learning, showing the validity of a growth mindset.

According to Dr. Dweck, having a growth mindset leads to embracing flaws and mistakes as opportunities for growth, accepting setbacks as part of the learning process, and feeling empowered to reach goals. While having a fixed mindset leads to hiding flaws and mistakes, feeling ashamed about failures, giving up quickly, and being unmotivated to strive or achieve goals.

Which mindset do you believe you have? Are you more likely to embrace change? Or are you more likely to avoid challenges that may lead to failure? What happens if you are a little of both? Another question is, what happens if you believe in one way and eventually realize you need to change your mindset? Will you be able to change? 

These are just a few questions I had to ask myself during our recent zoom call. In my mind, it was an obvious choice. I wanted to have a “growth mindset.” After all, I believe in lifelong learning. I think that failure is just a temporary setback or an opportunity to learn something new. Yes, it sounds awesome. A growth mindset is what I have, and that seems to be the better of the two. Well, little did I know that when I started thinking deeply about it, I realized that I had been living with a fixed mindset. 

A perfect example was when I bought my child a workbook on the “Growth Mindset” during the lockdowns brought on by the Pandemic. Was I in that growth mindset frame of thought? Well, not exactly. Handing my son a workbook and telling him to go ahead and work on this is not exactly how a person with a growth mindset operates. Yes, I took the initiative but did I follow through with the process and believe what I was telling him? Did I put myself in a position for me to grow? All I did was pass a good intention while still holding on to the fear of failure or setback. I knew it was vital for him to embrace the growth mindset philosophy, but why was I unwilling to do that myself? I feared failure.  

The more I thought about it, the more I realized that it’s just not that you get to decide which one you are, and then you move on. You have to start thinking about how a growth mindset or a fixed mindset affects the decisions you make in your day-to-day life or daily activities.


5 thoughts on “Explore Fixed and Growth Mindsets”

  1. User Avatar
    Wendy Kithinji

    Awesome article Gaby.
    Growing up, I realize that I never fully embraced the growth mindset. I was of both the fixed and growth mindset. I never allowed myself to fail, not knowing that the beauty of failure is learning from it.
    At this point in my life, I am of the growth mindset where I am fully embracing my failures and learning from them. Not being afraid of taking risks in my journey as I transition into a different career path.

  2. User Avatar

    Great article! Another enhancement in Agile is by creating an Agile community of practice. It is very important to have a coalition of people, that is people who have the same mindset as you and put in practice agile values of commitment, focus, respect, openness, and being courageous to do the right thing and work on tough problems. As well as accept changes within the sprint. With such a mindset we can deliver value and quality frequently within a possible short time frame. Such a mindset helps to create a cohesive unit of professionals.

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    Great article! I can easily say that the fixed mindset has been a trap that I have fallen into in the past. Which has caused me to give up on certain things when learning from mistakes could have yielded a better outcome. Another facet that can contribute to a fixed mindset are the environments that one is in. When you are in an environment that does not allow failure without punishment (direct or indirect), I believe it can lead to a fixed mindset (there is one way to do things), and can also lead to people hiding their mistakes.

  4. User Avatar

    A very interesting article Gaby!

    While growing up, I have to admit I had a more fixed mindset but always strived (or at least wanted) to have a growth mindset. Seeing mistakes as stepping stone for growth – this thought (though always there at the back of my mind) was not easily applied in real life. Even though I never avoided challenges, there were times when I felt more dejected from failure than learning from it.

    But as I grew older, I slowly started realizing that fear of failure prevented me from learning and accepting new challenges. And like you, I very strongly believe lifelong learning. That’s when I decided that I wanted to change my attitude and mindset – in a way that I did not just think of growth mindset, but applied it in my everyday life. And I’m slowly getting there!

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    Thank you for your courage to share! I really recognized myself in the past reading through. I can say fixed mindset led me to the failure because I gave up without even trying something new (nope, I just can’t succeed it). Growth mindset made me more courageous and open-minded (Hmm, what if I’ll try this? I’ll take some time to learn, ask someone to help and then will do it! Why not?) – so I dared to try again and again. I learned a lot through my mistakes, but kept moving. Of course I developed new skills, embraced different ideas and won my fear finally!
    One of mentors says “Fast is slow, but every day”. That’s what I do now.

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