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February 25, 2021

Finding Freedom: Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset

Written by Dr. Gia Marson

Having a growth mindset can give you freedom in many areas of your life. Learn how to put less energy into looking perfect and direct your efforts into learning.

You’ve probably heard the famous saying “mind over matter.” Well, your mindset is more powerful than you think. Your mind holds many powers, including the ability to enhance intelligence and prosperity. This is also known as a growth mindset.

What is growth mindset?

The belief that skills and abilities are developed through practice and hard work.

A growth mindset has more proof behind it. Studies have shown that developing a growth mindset improves the performance of students. It can also help athletes,  corporate leaders, and you!

This differs from a fixed mindset, which is the belief that you’re born with certain qualities — whether they be talent, intelligence, personality, etc. Here are some inspiring growth mindset quotes and a more in-depth look at a fixed vs growth mindset.

“I knew I was on the right path when I started feeling peaceful in situations where I would normally feel tension.” – yung pueblo

“I am not afraid of storms for I am learning how to sail my ship.” —Little Women

Why Mindset Matters

Let’s look into the differences between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.

Those with a fixed mindset don’t think it is possible to make changes to intelligence and skills, regardless of the persistence, time, and effort it takes to develop certain skills. If you become defensive or give up easily and stay in your comfort zone, you may have a fixed mindset.

If you have this mindset, you may limit your specific thoughts and beliefs, and push away the notion of expanding your mindset. You may believe failure is the result of lacking abilities and limited intelligence. You may avoid situations that challenge you out of fear of getting it wrong.

Another self-limiting aspect of the fixed mindset is perfectionism. When you can’t accept mistakes, you’ll have to work diligently to ensure everything in your life is perfect. This is a toxic quality because you’re not embracing mistakes and the chance to grow from them – and you’re disregarding the reality that our universal human condition makes us all imperfect.

While a fixed mindset has some negative qualities, many people have a fixed mindset. It’s normal to feel nervous or discouraged about challenges and trying something new. Unfortunately, you have to face the process of learning whether you are truly open to it or not, such as receiving career performance feedback from your employers or developing new skills in school.

This doesn’t mean that you need to be stuck with a fixed mindset forever. You can change this by implementing a growth mindset.

Those with a growth mindset have more freedom. You can develop the ability to be passionate about learning new problem-solving strategies and new information. People with a growth mindset tend to advance farther than those with a fixed mindset. That’s because they embrace challenges, understanding they’re essential to growing as a person.

Which Mindset Do You Have?

There are common traits of a fixed and growth mindset. See which one you have. This will help you identify any strengths and weaknesses in your train of thought.

Traits of a Fixed Mindset

As stated previously, those with a fixed mindset believe people are “carved in stone.” While this has some truth, it is a very limiting perspective.

Review common traits of people with a fixed mindset:

  • Runs from errors or problems
  • Gives up easily
  • Circumvents challenges
  • Gets defensive in the face of negative feedback
  • Envies others successes
  • Tries to reinforce their self-esteem
  • Avoids new experiences
  • Considers results a “fixed” part of their identity

A fixed mindset isn’t all negative. Our ingrained traits are unique and make us who we are. This is integral because they help us fit into society and find friends with common traits. For example, some people have natural talents and interests. These can be anything, such as musicianship and entrepreneurship. While it takes time to develop skills in any area of life, these natural abilities give us drive and also helps us build a community.

Traits of a Growth Mindset

No matter what has been true in their past, anyone can implement a growth mindset. You cultivate unique qualities by moving away from a focus on success versus failure and toward the process of learning and improving.

Take a look at the qualities of those who have a growth mindset:

  • Processes errors with a desire to correct them
  • Develops talents and abilities through practice and effort
  • Perseveres in the face of failures
  • Embraces challenges
  • Accepts constructive criticism
  • Finds inspiration in others, especially those who are more successful
  • Surrounds themselves with others who inspire them to grow
  • Looks for opportunities to learn new skills
  • Enjoys collaboration
  • Focuses on learning and processing information without thinking about outcomes

A growth mindset, the new psychology of success,  offers many benefits to your mind. You’ll focus more on improving, not the perfection of your skills. Those with a growth mindset take different opportunities to learn and work harder.

They also have a healthier outlook on failure. They see rejection and failure as an opportunity to grow. This is why those with a growth mindset tend to be innovative and imaginative.

Strategies to Develop a Growth Mindset

As you can see from the growth mindset definition, traits, and benefits, a growth mindset is more flexible and open-minded than a fixed mindset.

Implementing growth-oriented activities can help you change to this perspective:

  • Set new learning goals
  • Catch yourself in the moment such as telling yourself “I’m not good at this.”
  • Start with tasks that are challenging but not too difficult. For example, if you’re trying to get more movement, focus on walking rather than intense weightlifting.
  • Review your failures
  • Staying flexible enough to learn from your mistakes

Keep in mind, developing a growth mindset won’t happen overnight. Stay consistent and understand that occasional feelings of insecurity are normal. However, you can understand what triggers your fixed mindset and work harder toward developing a growth mindset.

If you are ready to start where you are, learn from mistakes, build new skills, and keep yourself challenged – the growth mindset is for you!

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