Growth vs. Fixed Mindset

The two types of mindset that affect how people reason and react to life issues are the fixed mindset and the growth mindset. Dr. Carol Dweck states that a 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, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them” (Dweck, 2006, p.7). Based on Dweck’s statement, having a fixed mind-set may lead an individual to dodge challenges, quit easily, shun effort, shun beneficial undesirable feedback, and feel intimidated by the attainment of others.
Conversely, a growth mind-set is based on the “belief that your basic qualities are things you can activate through your efforts, your strategies, and help from others” (Dweck, 2006, p. 7). The implication is that a growth mind-set stirs a yearning to learn and as a result the inclination to accept challenges, hang on amidst obstructions, value effort, learn from negative feedback, and be motivated by the accomplishment of others. Essentially, the growth mind-set is ideal for growth and goal achievement. Dr. Dweck also asserts that the hallmark of the growth mindset is the “passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even when it’s not going well.” She suggests that a growth mindset allows people to bloom during some of the most demanding periods in their lifetime. In essence, the growth mind-set is what keeps people moving in the midst of challenges and setbacks.
Our mind-set determines how we accurately view our assets and limitations. This is because studies have shown that “people with the growth mind-set are more likely to have inflated views of their abilities and try for things they’re not capable of while people with the fixed mindset misestimate their performance and ability” (Dweck, 2006, p. 11). Therefore, a person’s mind-set can positively or negatively impact their life aspirations. Likewise, research also shows that individuals, who visualize positive results, end up achieving a positive outcome and vice versa (Williams & Menendez, 2015). This implies that mind-set is two-way faceted, it could lead to growth or regression.
Authors William and Menendez assert that for an individual to alter their mindset, an acknowledgement from the individual that change is needed and an ability to observe and detect their negative imaginations is required. The authors state that “our habits of thinking, our habitual moods, our habits of using our energy, the ways we hold our bodies, and the stories we use to explain what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen-all of these habits and actions shape how we see and experience the world. They circumscribe our world and limit our possibilities” (p.345). Indeed, our mind-set confines our world and restrains our opportunities.
There are various reasons that might lead individuals to develop a particular mind-set. For ages, scientists made the belief that the human brain is static and lacks plasticity thereby making the assertion the norm. The assertion left many people hooked in a fixed mind-set. William and Menendez emphasize that an individual’s mindset is sourced when it “becomes so familiar that it is habitual, we may lose sight of it as something we have adopted and mistake it for reality. When this happens, we may focus outside ourselves and say, “that’s just how the world is,” unaware we have choices” (p.346). This type of belief system has the capability to dictate our thoughts, actions, and cap our being. A fixed mindset limits our existence thereby making us susceptible only to what it sanctions.
Individuals tend to be taken aback when the goal that they want to achieve is blocked by a flawed habitual way of thinking. Williams and Menendez affirm that individual struggle with achieving their goals when it is “blocked by a mind-set that is a holdover from an earlier level of consciousness… by specific experiences that were so intense they created brain ruts; that is, the habitual response is so wired into the clients’ neural pathways that when the stimulus occurs, the neurons immediately fire in the habitual sequence” (p. 346). However, the good news is that the human brain is not static but is capable to readjust in ways that foster a growth faceted mind-set as opposed to a fixed mind-set. Nonetheless, it will take several replications and reiterations to establish a fresh brain footpath to supersede the previous one.


Dweck, C. S. (2006). Mindset: The new psychology of success. New York, NY: Random        House.

Society for Neuroscience. (2011, July 1). Neuroplasticity. Retrieved from

Williams, P., & Menendez, D. S. (2015). Becoming a professional life coach: Lessons from the institute for life coach training. New York, NY: W.W. Norton & Company.