Your beliefs become your thoughts, your thoughts become your words, your words become your actions, your actions become your habits, your habits become your values, your values become your destiny. – Mahatma Gandhi

Gandhi’s saying illustrates how our mindset can ultimately shape our future and guide our destinies. A “mindset” is a belief that determines how you approach, perceive, act, and cope with a situation.

For decades, the Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck conducted intensive and extensive research to determine the underlying motivations that drive behavior, reactions, and actions.

In her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, she popularized the idea that an individual can have two types of mindsets, impacting their levels of success. She refers to them as “fixed mindset” and “growth mindset.”

According to her, mindset is “a belief that orients the way we handle situations—the way we sort out what we should do. Mindsets are beliefs that make a difference in our lives. They orient our reactions and tendencies. When our mindsets become habitual, they define who we are, and who we can become.”

Dweck’s work shows the power of our most basic beliefs. Whether conscious or subconscious, they strongly “affect what we want and whether we succeed in getting it.”

Which one you fall under affects how well you’re able to adapt to situations and grow. In some ways, they’re similar to the nature vs nurture concept.

Let’s get a better idea of how the two differ.

What Is a Fixed Mindset?

A fixed mindset is a belief system that your abilities, characteristics, traits, skills, and capabilities are inherent, natural, and fixed. Therefore, they cannot be changed.

This belief system is often risk-averse since it’s based on the idea that effort can only go so far. At the end of the day, your skills and talents are innate and born out of luck.

Furthermore, any shortcoming or mistake is perceived as a personal shortcoming and cannot be overcome as it is an inherent flaw. This can make individuals defensive and lead them to measure themselves based on their failures.

When your mindset is fixed, you view your performance as an extension of your persona, and your mistakes as personal failures. Consequently, you strive to constantly prove that the abilities you naturally possess are the best ones in the workplace.  This mindset can prevent you from leaving your comfort zone and remain in a static and stagnant career.

What Is a Growth Mindset?

Contrary to a fixed mindset, a growth mindset is a belief that one’s inherent talent can be developed and polished. One’s abilities, skills, and traits can all be learned, improved, and enhanced through hard work, dedication, and persistence.

With a growth mindset, individuals have a more positive outlook on their failures. Mistakes are opportunities to learn and grow. This, in turn, encourages them to take risks, think innovatively, and express their creativity.

Furthermore, individuals with a growth mindset generally approach situations with an open mind, treating every experience as a lesson be it positive or negative.

This will equip you with a potent arsenal to tackle bigger things, like applying for a promotion, taking on a managerial role, moving abroad, changing jobs more often, etc

Credit: https://www.aot.edu.au/

Why Is It Beneficial To Have a Growth Mindset?

People with fixed mindsets believe that their traits and abilities are unchangeable. This train of thought can negatively impact how they perceive themselves and how they approach personal and professional situations.

Such beliefs limit their careers since a fixed mindset makes it more difficult to accept constructive criticism and respond to it in a healthy manner. The lack of creativity and risk-taking that accompanies a growth mindset can be viewed negatively by employers.

In contrast, individuals with a growth mindset are “lifelong learners” who constantly seek to improve and better themselves. The willingness to face challenges head-on, polish one’s skills, treat difficulties as learning experiences, and embrace setbacks are appealing qualities to companies.

Being able to learn from mistakes is particularly important for leaders, who must drive businesses forwards in ambiguous, uncertain and unpredictable contexts, in which success cannot be guaranteed.  To avoid being paralysed by indecision or inaction, leaders must develop the ability to learn from mistakes: fail safe, learn fast.

These characteristics not only help individuals to find meaning in their work but also help them become good leaders when the time comes. Furthermore, they can be extremely effective in driving positive change as individuals with growth mindsets don’t give up easily and are known for their dedication and persistence.

To paraphrase Dr. Dweck: “The Fixed Mindset is concerned about the NOW, while the Growth Mindset thrives in the NOT YET.”

Growth mindset

How To Build a Growth Mindset

Inculcating a growth mindset requires a fundamental shift in your outlook and beliefs. The adjustment takes some work but it is worth the investment, especially if you wish to achieve success in your career.

Here are some ways you can develop a growth mindset and work towards your goals:

Redefine Challenges as Opportunities

Your limits are only as narrow or wide as you set them. But a Growth Mindset dictates a perpetual forward motion. With this in mind, consider challenges as a two-pronged opening to better job prospects and career growth.

One of these is being offered a bigger role with a wider scope of responsibility. A Fixed Mindset allows the fear of being incompetent to paralyze you into not grabbing the chance. But a Growth Mindset gets you excited at the prospect of your dreams finally coming true.


Hone your skills with intention and regularity. This is the maxim followed by football players, classical pianists, prima ballerinas, and chess masters, especially those who were not “born with it,” as fixed mindsets would say. Practise is critical.

Strive to do more and be more in every aspect of your life, every day. Try cooking a new recipe , listen to a new podcast every week, run an extra mile. Then it will be realistic to believe that, indeed, anything is possible with perseverance and determination.

Develop A Mantra

The next time you find yourself in a downward spiral and questioning whether you’re skilled enough or capable of achieving something, repeat a positive mantra to yourself.

Your mantra can act as a positive reminder that you can accomplish anything you set your mind to. Some examples of positive phrases you can repeat are:

  • I can do this.
  • Trying is the first step to achieving something.
  • If I fail, I will still have learned something from this.
  • What I wasn’t born with, I can learn.

Remind yourself with these statements until they become part of your natural outlook.

Learn From Failures

Take a moment to look back at what went wrong and learn from it. This will help you avoid the same mishap in the future. It can be easy to blame yourself and feel inadequate when you fail at something or don’t live up to your expectations but don’t allow any mistakes or failures define you. This is a step towards your success.

Take Responsibility

Take ownership of your mistakes as well. If you slip up, be accountable and think of ways to remedy the situation. This will help you accept and overcome your shortcomings while increasing respect among your peers.

Other Tips for a Growth Mindset

  • Step out of your comfort zone. Learn, experience, and new things.
  • Don’t compare yourself to others.
  • Avoid focusing purely on the results. The process is just as important.
  • Listen to suggestions from your peers, including those younger than you. Seniority is not a measure of creativity or intelligence.

While your mindset and belief system can help you spot opportunities and maximize them, they can also cause an endless spiral of insecurity and low self-esteem.

A fixed mindset may be the reason you aren’t able to focus on your strengths as you only ruminate on your shortcomings. Try to focus on how you can learn from different situations instead and enhance your skills and talents.

Having a growth mindset can transform your life and set you up for success.

“I think anything is possible if you have the mindset and the will and desire to do it and put the time in.” Roger Clemens

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