Mindset — Summary

People with a fixed mindset — those who believe that abilities are fixed — are far less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset.


There are some things over which we have little control like the body features we are born with. But there are many more over which we do have control, for example physical and mental abilities.

We call the mindset of people who believe that they are born naturally gifted at some things and incapable of others, a fixed mindset. In contrast, people with a growth mindset believe they can master anything if they put in enough effort.

People with a fixed mindset are victims of their own black and white thinking. While people with a growth mindset see life as a constant state of change and change it the way they want.

Fixed mindset

People with a fixed mindset feel constantly compelled to show how talented and smart they are. Since they think that people fundamentally don’t change, they are quick to judge others as good or bad and therefore think that others will do the same thing to them.

They take critique very personal as they feel like their entire personality is at stake. Fixed mindset people often seek approval from others to protect their egos and reassure their greatness.

Growth mindset

People with a growth mindset constantly work on themselves in order to eradicate their faults and weaknesses. They welcome problems and see them as challenges not obstacles.

When children with a growth mindset are confronted with a difficult problem, they jump to the challenge and want to do more problems like that because they recognize that they can learn and become better at solving them.

People with a growth mindset are difficult to predict because their current potential is constantly expanded. They are more interested in pushing themselves to the limits of their own potential than to get the highest grades.

People with a growth mindset always look forward to learn from the best people in a field instead of feeling envious or threaten.

Approval vs Development

People with a fixed mindset — as they don’t think they can improve — tend to seek approval. People with a growth mindset seek development because they know they can get better at what they do.

Failures vs Opportunities

People with a fixed mindset don’t think they can learn from their mistakes, failure for them means disaster. Failure devalues them as a person and all past success.

In order to deal with their failure they blame, make excuses, cheat, or lose interest. They don’t consider seeking help, analyzing their weaknesses, and certainly not to practice.

They prefer to take themselves out of the equation and instead blame everything on external circumstances.

People with a growth mindset see failures as opportunities to improve. They analyze themselves when something goes wrong, instead of blaming it to something external. Once they analyze and notice some aspect of themselves which they can improve, they take the necessary action to grow and improve, whether that means asking for help, reading books or whatever else is necessary.

Avoiding difficulties vs relishing them

People with a fixed mindset tend to avoid difficulties, they see them as risky, because they imply investing effort and if they fail, they will have fewer excuses. Also, they believe they shouldn’t have to try hard as for them natural talent means that results should come easy.

Parents, society and teachers play a key role in the mindset of children

Babies come to the world with a growth mindset. They have an innate curiosity and passion for learning. But then their parents often set a bad example. When parents judge instead of encouraging them to keep learning, they force their fixed mindset to the child.

The same happens with teachers, there are teachers who believe that good students will always do well and bad weaker students will always be weaker.

Good teachers — those who believe their students are capable of learning anything — show their students different ways of mastering problems. As a result, their weaker students start to embrace a growth mindset and start getting better grades.

Anyone can adopt a growth mindset

The growth mindset is key to self-fulfillment. Luckily everyone can adopt it even if someone who has currently a fixed mindset.

Example: Let’s say you drop a plate on the floor. The first thought might be “I’m so clumsy!”. But then you could become conscious of your fixed mindset and instead think something like, “Ok these things happen, I’ll clean it up and be more careful next time.”

You can start working towards a growth mindset by asking for help, talk about your mistakes and faults, and then take concrete steps to improve yourself. Make a growth strategy. Rewire your brain to build a growth habit.

Get the book

Also published on Medium.