Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset
A fixed mindset is when you believe your skills and success are predetermined or cast in stone. Whereas a growth mindset is when you believe you can cultivate your skills to become successful.
For example, imagine playing the game of poker for the first time. After a few hands you’ve had only bad cards and you still don’t fully understand the rules. How would you respond in this situation?
Would you react like someone with a fixed mindset and think, “Poker is too hard… I’m not good at it so I might as well quit.” The fixed mindset person believes their bad luck is proof that they’re not good enough to win. And they might feel judged based on their lack of ability at the start.
In addition, if something doesn’t come easy right away, then it’s not meant to be. And it’s hard for them to see that they can learn how to win. For someone with a fixed mindset, success means not failing.
Or would you react like someone with a growth mindset and think, “Poker is challenging… I can’t wait to play more and get better!” The growth mindset person knows their bad luck isn’t tied to their skill or chances of winning. And they believe, with practice, they can learn how to win. For them, success means learning.
If you found yourself relating to the fixed mindset person, don’t feel bad. Admittedly that’s pretty much me every time I try to play poker. Indeed none of us has a growth mindset in every situation.
But it’s important to realize that your mindset is flexible. Therefore, you can change your mindset and change your results.
How the Growth Mindset Changes Your Results
From a young age, we’re led to believe that some abilities you either have or you don’t. We get judged based on metrics and scores which measure a fixed point in time. Then those judgments could determine our success in life.
However, your abilities are not fixed. And you don’t have to let past judgments define where you go in the future. When you believe you can improve, you are more likely to succeed.
It turns out that you can increase your intelligence1 just like you can improve your physical abilities. In one study, researchers held mindset workshops in a school with declining grades. A group of 7th-graders was taught that their brain is like a muscle. And that they can make it grow through training and learning new things.
As a result of their mindset training, this group of students improved their math grades. At the same time, the control students’ grades continued to decline2.