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Mindset- Fixed v/s Growth

by Sumbul Syed

“If you imagine less, less will be what you undoubtedly deserve,” Debbie Millman

The word ‘mindset’ cannot be further talked about without naming a renowned psychologist, Carol Dweck. Carol Dweck is one of the well-known psychologists at Stanford University who has made contributions in the study of mindset as a psychological trait. She had written a book of the same title in the year 2006 which gained tremendous success.

Before dwelling into the work of Carol Dweck, it is important to understand what is meant by mindset. Mindset, in simple terms, can be defined as one’s attitude towards the internal and external environment. The kind of mindset we have lets us perceive what is around us. That is why it is so crucial that we invest in our mindsets.

The two mindsets: fixed and growth

Carol Dweck’s book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” is an account of the power of our beliefs; beliefs that we strongly hold on to when changed (even a tiny little bit) can have a huge impact on our lives. In the book, she has argued that there are two kinds of mindsets:

Fixed Mindset

Growth Mindset

People who possess a fixed mindset believe that intelligence, character and the creative abilities are all fixed or static and cannot be changed no matter what. While, on the other hand, people with a growth mindset believe that intelligence, creative abilities, etc. can be stretched. Such people don’t succumb to failures and see them as an opportunity and not a setback.

While working with both children and adults for almost two decades, Carol Dweck writes in her book:

“For twenty years, my research has shown that the view you adopt for yourself profoundly affects the way you lead your life. It can determine whether you become the person you want to be and whether you accomplish the things you value.”

She further writes:

Believing that your qualities are carved in stone — the fixed mindset — creates an urgency to prove yourself over and over. If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character — well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them. It simply wouldn’t do to look or feel deficient in these most basic characteristics.”

“There’s another mindset in which these traits are not simply a hand you’re dealt and have to live with, always trying to convince yourself and others that you have a royal flush when you’re secretly worried it’s a pair of tens. In this mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development. This growth mindset is based on the belief that your basic qualities are things you can cultivate through your efforts. Although people may differ in every which way — in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or temperaments — everyone can change and grow through application and experience.”

From the image above, it is obvious to say that the kind of mindset we have determines our attitudes towards challenges, efforts, success of others and failures. People with a growth mindset see obstacles as an opportunity to be better in the future while people with a fixed mindset try every way possible to avoid them. This is the reason why growth mindset people don’t give up easily when times are hard while fixed mindset people give up very easily. It is not easy to take criticisms for people with a fixed mindset. They believe a negative feedback is degrading them. However, a reality is different and it is all about perception because people with a growth mindset welcome critiques’ views as long as they help them grow and develop both personally and professionally.

Having either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset is like two different worlds. In one world i.e. fixed mindset everything is difficult and not possible. Everything is how it was always supposed to be. In another world i.e. growth mindset every failure and setback is like a new lesson learned. In this world a lot of things are possible. It is highly important that we cultivate the right kind of mindset because a wrong one can cost a lot during the lifetime.


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