The Differences Between A Growth Mindset And A Fixed Mindset

The Differences Between A Growth Mindset And A Fixed Mindset

Is our potential predetermined at birth or does our effort and attitude determine our abilities?

This is a key question to ask on the subject of ‘mindset’, which has become quite a buzz word!

You hear it all the time, people do talks on it and write blogs on it, like this one here. You even have Mindset Coaches. So, what the f**k is Mindset?!

The concept of mindset was first discovered by world-renowned Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, the definition of mindset is ‘a person’s way of thinking and their opinions’. The way Dweck looks at it is that mindset refers to whether you believe your intelligence is fixed or changeable. 

Fixed Mindset – People with a fixed mindset believe they are born with their abilities which are fixed and unchangeable, creating a glass ceiling for their success.

Growth Mindset – People with a growth mindset believe their abilities can be developed and strengthened over time through hard work and commitment.

Your mindset plays a critical role in your success and how you cope with life’s challenges. Those with a growth mindset show greater resilience. For example, in the work environment, they are better able to handle challenges and take criticism than those with a fixed mindset, who are typically more likely to give up.

Those with a fixed mindset have a need for approval as explained in Dweck’s book Mindset, “Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality or character. Every situation is evaluated; Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected?”

Whereas, those with a growth mindset have a hunger for learning and a desire to work hard to get results. These are common characteristics of business owners. With a growth mindset, people see failure as feedback and challenges as an opportunity to learn and grow.

Let’s explore some of the common traits around these two types of mindset, shall we!


  • Failure is an opportunity to grow
  • Can learn to do anything they want
  • Challenges help them to grow
  • Effort and attitude determine their abilities
  • Intelligence and talent are ever-improving
  • Inspired by the success of others
  • Like to try new things
  • Prioritize learning over seeking approval
  • Persist in the face of setbacks
  • Learn to give and receive constructive criticism


  • Failure is the limit of my abilities
  • I’m either good at it or I’m not
  • My abilities are unchanging
  • I don’t like to be challenged
  • I can either do it or I can’t
  • My potential is predetermined
  • When I’m frustrated I give up
  • Unable to handle criticism or feedback
  • I stick to what I know
  • Threatened by the success of others

Which of these traits do you notice in yourself?

Let’s look at some of these fixed mindset traits in more detail.


This is a common fixed mindset trait and yes you will fail. You’ll fail over and over again! It’s how you view your failures that matter though. Edison failed over and over again in his attempts to create the light bulb. Those failures finally led him to success and now we have light in our homes!

So, every time we fail it’s actually an opportunity to look at the situation in a whole new light (excuse the pun) and to consider how we could do things differently to create the success we want.

When you’re running your own business or just getting started, you’ll naturally come across a lot of failures as you learn new things. So, it’s important you learn from your failures and allow them to help you grow and develop in your business.

Growth mindset alternative: I see failures as an opportunity to learn, to review and do better next time.


This statement views our intelligence as fixed and unchangeable. Research, however, shows the brain is much like a muscle in that it needs exercise to stay functional and performing at its best. The idea that intelligence is fixed has become somewhat of an outdated notion.

If we continue to find ways to improve and enhance what we know and can do, then we are providing ourselves with a better opportunity and can dramatically shift our results. This is a key approach for any business owner if they want to grow and evolve their business.

Growth mindset alternative: My effort and determination measure my outcome and success.


Those with a fixed mindset feel threatened by the success of others and let it limit their potential achievements. It’s important to remember that everyone is at a different stage in their journey. So, comparing yourself to others is futile as they may be at a different stage in their business and will most definitely have had different life experiences.

Instead of feeling threatened, it’s better for you as a business owner to recognize that others that have created success are just like you – average, everyday ordinary people who knew what they wanted and went after it. Everybody has potential, it’s not just reserved for the special few. Remember, if they can do it, so can you!

Growth mindset alternative: When I see others succeed, it makes me think I can too. What did these people do that made them successful, and how can it be modeled?

For those who are considering transitioning from corporate employee to business owner, having a growth mindset, as you’ll see, is hugely important. The entrepreneurial journey comes with its challenges and having the right mindset can help enormously and can, in turn, increase your confidence.


OK, so now we know a bit more about mindset let’s explore how our mindset is formed. It’s actually in our childhood years that our mindset is developed and influenced by our parents, teachers, and friends.

We absorb what we see, hear, and experience in the world and as we have little or no point of reference at this time, we reinforce this knowledge, which becomes deeply embedded in our subconscious mind. With that we then form beliefs about how the world operates and our place in it and that is how our fixed or growth mindset is formed.

So, if your mindset is formed in your childhood years, your preconscious years, can you ever change your mindset and if so, how?


It is possible to change your mindset and get yourself thinking and feeling more positive. Here are 3 quick tips that you can apply in your life to shift or improve your mindset for greater success.

Change your self-talk – Everything starts with your thoughts. If you find yourself saying to yourself over and over again ‘I can’t do this’ then your thoughts create your reality and you won’t be able to achieve the success you desire. Simply by switching your language from ‘I can’t do this’ to ‘I can do this’ can be really powerful. It’s one of the ways I upgraded my mindset, continuously repeating to myself ‘I can do it’ when faced with a particular challenge. I eventually reprogrammed myself for success.

Change your language – Once you’ve changed your internal dialogue it’s time to change your external dialogue. Start conversing with people using more positive language. For example, avoid using phrases such as ‘I’m no good at this’ and instead reframe your external dialogue and use more empowering language to build a growth mindset. Get into the habit of focusing on the good things in your life instead of complaining and talking about your problems. This will encourage a mindset centered around abundance instead of fear and lack.

Image by Gerd Altmann from Pixabay

Learn and apply – One of the best ways to change your mindset is to model others’ thinking by reading books such as Mindset by Carol Dweck, The Seven Habits of Highly Successful People by Stephen Covey or You Are A Badass by Jen Sincero. Read as many books as you can on how the mind and brain work and learn from mindset experts, online courses, events, and coaching. You can also listen to podcasts and watch YouTube videos to up-level your knowledge.


I hope you’ve enjoyed this blog and now have a better idea of what mindset is, where you sit between the two types and how you can change your mindset to create greater success and impact in your business.

Thanks for reading.

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