Fixed VS Growth Mindset

Siim Land

This article talks about the difference between fixed vs growth mindset. 

Mindset is Everything

Having your mindset in place is probably one of the most important things you need for maximizing your potential as a human being.

  • If you were to think in certain limited sets of parameters, then you’d never see beyond them.
  • On the other hand, being open to the possibility that almost everything is possible as long as you commit to it will by default reconstruct your belief systems in a profound way.

And I’m saying „almost everything is possible“ just to prevent a heated argument over the nature of science and human biological limitations. What I’m really saying is that everything is possible – we just don’t know it yet or how to make it happen.

It’s not an issue of possibility but much rather of knowledge.

You as a human being possess the incredible ability to learn and evolve. It’s our scientific and artistic way of thinking that allowed our evolution to reach its current stages and it’s the same things that will allow us to go even beyond what we think is currently possible.

Difference Between Fixed VS Growth Mindset

What we need to do is open our minds to the possibility of infinite possibility.

In her groundbreaking bestselling book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, Carol S. Dweck, Ph.D., talks about 2 types of mindsets people tend to have.

  • The FIXED mindset is rooted in the belief that your traits and potential are predetermined, thus limited.
    • People with this one see their abilities as set within a certain range of parameters that have been created there whether by the genome, the environment, or their own personality. „I’ll never be able to do that; I’m just not that kind of a person; I don’t know how could I ever do that? It’s just the way I am.“
    • The fixed mindset also applies to traits you’d consider positive, like being good at sports or showing better results in school. Here the difference is that with a fixed mindset you see your abilities in any vocation as a part of your innate genius, not the hard work you put in. „I’m just born for this; I have those genes of excellence; I’m just better than others because it’s who I am.“
  • The GROWTH mindset is based on the belief that your abilities can be developed and cultivated.
    • People with this one see themselves capable of achieving anything as long as they commit and put in the effort. They respond to setbacks and failures as challenges that will make them grow as individuals. „I’m willing to learn and improve myself; If I dedicate wholeheartedly to this, then I’ll increase my chances of getting the results I desire.“
    • They don’t see their pre-requisite conditions, like upbringing, past history or social role as detrimental. Instead, they’re looked upon as stepping stones that made them the person they are today. „This is difficult, but it will prove to be an invaluable lesson in the future. I’m able to change my bad habits because they’re not bound to me.“

Your Mindset Determines Your Success

The power of mindset and the consequences of believing in the potential of one’s abilities have a profound effect on a person’s success in life. Dweck found in her years of research that people with a growth mindset showed better results in their work, relationships, personal development, and happiness.

Both of these mindsets are learned ways of thinking – you exhibit one or the other based on how you’ve grown up, what your parents taught you about believing in oneself, how your teachers encouraged you to behave and what kind of interpretations you made between your actions in the world and the results you’ve been getting.

If you think that you’re a person with a fixed mindset, then rest assured you are because you’ve already pre-emptively made up your mind about it.

Having a growth mindset will enable you to not only accomplish the things you desire despite your current condition but will also give you much more agency in your life.

You Can Control Your Growth Mindset

The nature of the world is unpredictable – the only constant is change. We’re going to come across negative people, unexpected events, experience difficulties and have to face hardships. With a growth mindset, you can accept them for what they are and actually gain from the chaos.

Like the ancient Stoics of Rome knew – there are things in our life that we can control and the things we cannot.

Epictetus, one of the philosophers, opened his book The Enchiridion with the following paragraph:

Some things are in our control and others not. Things in our control are opinion, pursuit, desire, aversion, and, in a word, whatever are our own actions. Things not in our control are body, property, reputation, command, and, in a word, whatever are not our own actions.

There are also the things we can influence – the things we can’t control entirely but we can influence to a certain degree – like the mental states of others, the outcomes of certain events and how we can feel in the near future.

 

Notice how big the circle of the things you can’t control is – it’s enormous in comparison to the things you can control. However, the core is the strongest and most effective place to focus.

The Foundation to a Growth Mindset

Stoicism, in a way, is founded upon a growth mindset – you base our decisions on the principle that you cannot control the things that happen to you, but you can control (or at least influence) your own reactions to those events.

You can’t control how you feel or how your body responds to certain stimuli i.e. you feel like a pile of cow dung in the morning or what you think about waking up, but you can control how you act in spite of it.

Furthermore, a similar mindset was showcased by Viktor Frankl, a Jewish psychiatrist who spent 3 grueling years in Auschwitz during the Second World War. He said:

Between stimulus and response there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lies our growth and our freedom.

What it means that your willpower is unlimited – you can always make the right decision despite the circumstances you’re in.

The problem is that we’re highly affected by external stimuli, like random events, other people, our mood, how well we slept, does our brain have access to energy and whether or not we’re even aware of the possibility of perceiving there to be another way.

How to Attain a Growth Mindset

After the Buddha learned that suffering is a part of life, he realized that in order to end suffering, he needed to find out what causes it. He came to the conclusion that suffering is caused by desire and ignorance – craving for attachment and being ignorant of the possibility of liberation from it.

Ignorance isn’t about being uneducated but the inability to see the truth of things.

This is accepted in Stoicism as well where it’s thought people suffer from the things they can’t control because of not knowing that they can’t control them in the first place. By focusing on the things one can control, striving to become a virtuous character and living in accordance with this truth will result in peace of mind.

A person with a growth mindset focuses on the things they can control – their perceptions and actions.

Wake Up With a Growth Mindset

Your mindset in one area of your life carries over to the other ones as well. If you think that you’re not a morning type person or that you’ll never be able to wake up early, then you’re already shooting yourself in the foot.

Never be fixed on anything, whether that be your personality, your habits, your vocation, your relationships or goals – always maintain your flexibility and be open to change because change causes growth.

And it’s never about just one thing – not about being disciplined, not about eating healthy, or waking up early. It’s about waking up as a person and becoming the greatest version of yourself.

If you want to completely transform your life for the better and shift your mindset towards growth, then check out my free e-book WAKE UP EMPOWERED. It’s a blueprint to waking up to your greatness.

Wake Up Empowered Book Siim Land
Wake Up Empowered Book Siim Land

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Siim