The difference between a Fixed & Growth Mindset

If we ask parents what they want for their children, the majority will say, “I want my child to be successful, be a good person, be caring, etc. etc.” Dr. Carol Dweck, a Stanford University Psychologist, through decades of research, found that people’s beliefs about their intelligence, personality and abilities differ.

A fixed mindset, is when people believe that our core personality, character, talent, abilities and intelligence are unchangeable. We are either talented at something: art, music, sports, math, logic, etc., or we aren’t. In the fixed mindset world, we say things like, “My child has a talent for math, that’s why she got a good grade” or “my child isn’t good at sports because he has two left feet” and so on. They believe that success has a lot to do with talent or an innate gift. The sense of success/failure are tied to their identity. They tend to develop fear of failure and avoid risks, and show an indifferent attitude toward effort. When they face a setback, they make excuses or try to find someone/something to blame it on.

A growth mindset, is when people believe that everything about a person is modifiable, that it is possible to change through practice and perseverance. There are no talented geniuses or dumb people, only hard-working ones. In the growth mindset world, we say things like, “What can I do encourage my child to try harder in class?” or “I can learn from my mistakes and try to do better next time”. They believe that they can develop their abilities, that effort and practice make a difference in their success, and setbacks are seen as opportunities for further improvement to pursue their goals. They love learning and challenges. Success and failure are not directly tied to their identities.

Holding a fixed or a growth mindset shapes the lens through which we view our world and impacts every single thought and action we take.

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