Have you ever convinced yourself of certain limitations? Maybe you found that you’re not good at Math, or you don’t excel at sports, or you feel too shy to speak in front of a crowd. Such situations sometimes bring us to our knees and force us to accept that we just can’t. Such is the curse of a fixed mindset. A growth mindset, on the other hand, dares to challenge this.

What is a growth mindset?

Stanford University researcher, psychologist, and psychology professor Carol Dweck came up with the concept of the growth mindset. She further popularized it through her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

She states that in a fixed mindset, students believe that their knowledge, skills, and characteristics are predetermined, and there is nothing you can do to change or improve it. The growth mindset, on the other hand, is the total opposite. It is acknowledging that you can enhance your knowledge and skills through constant learning and practice.

What are the key differences between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset?

At first glance, you can easily understand that the two mindsets are openly in opposition. There is a clear boundary between the two. However, in practice, you might not be able to quickly spot behaviors that signify which kind of mindset a person is portraying in certain situations. Here are some examples of specific differences between the two.

Embracing versus avoiding challenges

People with a fixed mindset usually avoid anything that stretches them. They avoid challenges because they are convinced of their limitations and feel an imminent failure. On the other hand, a growth mindset embraces challenges as opportunities to achieve things that they have not met before. 

Being cautious and smart about the risks of taking a challenge is not a bad thing to do. This is especially true for decisions or problems that have significant risks and can potentially put a person and those around in jeopardy. However, if you are not stepping up to a challenge purely because you think you just can’t without having even tried, then you are definitely adopting a fixed mindset.

Trying again versus giving up in the face of failure

Failing can be tough on your self-esteem. It is but natural for a person who has encountered failure to feel down. It is also understandable that the experience of failure can affect one’s confidence. In a fixed mindset, failure is like a glaring sign that says, “give up.”

On the other hand, the opposing concept sees failure as part of the learning process. You’ll realize this whenever you see someone try and try again despite failure. That is because they believe that they are getting better with each attempt.

Learning from versus ignoring or becoming demotivated by criticism

Just like a failure, criticism can be harsh for a fix-minded person. Some people shut down entirely in the face of criticism or just blatantly ignore it despite others calling for their improvement. Since they believe that their capabilities are fixed, inherent, and part of their persona, any critique on it is like an attack on their own being.

That kind of mindset against criticism can be harmful and may cause one to become stagnant. While there are criticisms that are purely personal attacks and must be ignored, criticisms that aim to evaluate performance and skills should become pointers for improvement. It should not hinder one, but rather motivate you to do better and be better ultimately in the process. 

Feeling inspired versus feeling threatened by others’ success

People who adopt a fixed mindset are more concerned with maintaining a reputation than actually growing and learning. That is why when someone else does things better than them, they instantly feel threatened. They feel as though their status is at stake and that they will appear inferior.

This behavior and mentality do not have a place in a growth mindset. People who earnestly want to learn, grow, and improve themselves do not feel threatened when someone with better skills comes along. Instead, they get inspired and try to learn the better way so that their abilities become at par with their counterparts. They take pride in learning on top of achievement and consider their improvement a part of their success.

Early plateau versus limitless potential

Because fixed mindsets convince themselves of their limitations, they often peak and plateau in their skills prematurely. They get to a level of expertise and knowledge that they feel is their ultimate limit and get stuck there simply because they believe that it is where they culminate. They miss out on reaching their true highest potential simply because they are afraid to challenge themselves to learn more.

On the other hand, growth-minded people believe that they can become smarter or more skilled at what they do. Always learning brings about unlimited growth and potential. In this manner, a growth-minded person gets to experience their true potential and may even uncover skills that are far beyond what they initially started with.


Adopting a growth mindset may seem as easy as flipping a switch and instantly become ravenous for continuous growth and improvement. However, for some people who have a strong fixed mindset, or who have had a fixed mindset for a very long time that it has affected their confidence and self-esteem in learning, some help might be needed. 


Learn to Be Successful With the Growth Mindset teaches you the basics of becoming successful, daring to set bigger goals, and being consistent with acquiring new knowledge and skills. 

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