This post is all about fixed mindset vs growth mindset examples.
Have you ever heard the quote, “Hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard?” Essentially this quote is saying that no matter how talented or naturally gifted you are, that you can be surpassed or outworked by someone who is willing to put in the effort even if they might not be as talented as you.
This quote also means that people who have innate abilities or natural talent have a HUGE advantage if they are willing to work hard.
But, what if you don’t believe that hard work can make you better? What if you believe that no matter how hard you work that you are confined to your innate ability with no room for improvement? If you tend to think this way, you may have a fixed mindset.
Fixed Mindset vs Growth Mindset Examples
There are two different mindsets you can have as you go through life: fixed or growth. Many argue that having a growth mindset is more beneficial if you are someone who wants to reach your full potential. And if you’re reading this, I bet you are.
There are some key differences between a fixed mindset and a growth mindset.
According to Harvard Business Review, “someone with a fixed mindset views [intelligence, abilities, and talents] as inherently stable and unchangeable over time.” On the other hand, “someone with a growth mindset views intelligence, abilities, and talents as learnable and capable of improvement through effort.”
What is a fixed mindset?
I always feel a little perplexed whenever people say things like “I’ve always been this way. If I haven’t changed by now, I’m never going to”. Why? Because, and this may sound a little harsh, but I think it’s lazy.
I think it’s lazy because usually when people say something like that, they’re referring to a quality they don’t really like about themselves or a quality that other people really don’t like about them. And it’s a lot easier to tell everyone that you’re “just that way” than putting in the effort to change themselves.
You rarely hear people say “I’ve got no interest in changing” when it comes to a positive quality that they have. I mean, think about it… if it was a positive quality… they wouldn’t want — or need to — change it.
Quick examples of someone with a fixed mindset:
Someone who is inflexible and rejects what isn’t familiar to them without even considering it.
Someone who becomes paralyzed by failure.
Someone who never tries new things or new strategies.
Someone who rejects or avoids feedback because they take it personally instead of using it to get better.
What is a growth mindset?
Do you believe you can change? Do you believe that you can improve? That’s what having a growth mindset is all about: putting in the effort to change or improve because you believe you can. Many successful people have growth mindsets.
Quick examples of someone with a growth mindset:
Someone who values feedback and knows it can make them better.
Someone who gets back up and tries again after they fail.
Someone who does their very best even when they’re confidence is wavering.
Someone who is willing to try new things.
Someone who doesn’t reject new ideas just because they are new and different.
Someone who welcomes continuous improvement.
Fixed vs Growth Mindset Quiz
Which of these mindsets do you believe you have? Not sure? Take this quiz by the University of North Carolina.
This quiz here has been adapted from the very famous book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck. According to Amazon, Dr. Carol Dweck “shows how success in school, work, sports, the arts, and almost every area of human endeavor can be dramatically influenced by how we think about our talents and abilities. People with a fixed mindset—those who believe that abilities are fixed—are less likely to flourish than those with a growth mindset—those who believe that abilities can be developed.”
And if you’re still not convinced, let’s dive into the specifics and see some real life examples.
Fixed vs Growth Mindset Examples
Here are some real life fixed mindset vs growth mindset examples.
1. Accepting negative feedback and/or constructive criticism
Receiving and accepting feedback can be really uncomfortable because it involves opening yourself up to critique.
Fixed Mindset: “I don’t care what anyone has to say.”
If you have a fixed mindset when team members are giving you feedback, for example, you may shut them down or ignore them entirely to protect your ego. You’d rather not listen to them so that you don’t have to face the reality that whatever you’ve created or done has room for improvement.
Growth Mindset: “It may be a little uncomfortable, but I know constructive feedback will make me better – so bring it on.”
If you have a growth mindset, on the other hand, you welcome feedback. You know it might be a little uncomfortable and that it might hurt your ego a little bit, but you also know that constructive criticism is what’s necessary for you to improve! And you would rather take a hit to the ego and improve than ignore helpful feedback and stay the same.
One example of this in my personal life is when I design something for a website, and I ask my coworkers for their opinion on it. I truly “brace” myself before receiving the feedback, because I naturally just get embarrassed when someone is judging something of mine, but I know with the input of others, my design will be even better… so I force myself to be open to the opinions of others.
2. If you have a fear of public speaking
Fixed Mindset: “I’m so scared of public speaking. There’s no way this goes well.”
Public speaking is the #1 fear of people, over anything else in this world, so if you’re scared of it, you’re not alone. However, if you have an opportunity to speak in front of an audience, and you have a fixed mindset, you could seriously exacerbate your fear and make it even harder for you to have a successful speech.
For example, you may be telling yourself things like “this is going to go horribly” or “I have never been a good public speaker, and I never will be… why should this experience be any different?”. You may also decide not to prepare, because you don’t see the point if you believe your speech is going to be bad anyway.
Growth Mindset: “I’m a little scared of public speaking, but so are a lot of people. I’m going to prepare, do my best, and be easy on myself in the process.”
Someone with a growth mindset, though, would tell themselves that having a fear of public speaking is totally normal. They might be very intentional with their self-talk; stopping automatic negative thoughts whenever they pop up, and flipping the script immediately.
In other words, if they do have a thought like “This is going to go horribly” they will stop themselves, and instead think: “I am just going to do the very best that I can.” A growth mindset person recognizes this challenge and how uncomfortable it may be, but they don’t beat themselves up over it. They think thoughts like “I got this” instead of “I am awful at this”.
They’ll also prepare. They know that things like public speaking require a bit of effort (and even hard work at times) and preparation upfront in order to succeed, and they will do their best to set themselves up for success.
3. Trying new things
Fixed Mindset: “No thanks. I just know I won’t like it, so there’s no point in trying”.
A fixed mindset person, when it comes to new experiences, might opt to stay home instead of trying something new. They’d rather stick to routines and experiences that are familiar to them instead of getting out of their comfort zone.
It can take a bit of effort sometimes to put yourself in new environments, talk to new people, try a new challenge, or do things you’ve never done before, but if you don’t, it is hard to grow.
Growth Mindset: “Why not?”
Someone with a growth mindset knows trying new things can be super uncomfortable, but they do it anyway. They know there’s a change they might not like that “new thing”, but they also know that the new thing could expose them to new feelings, emotions, thoughts, likes, and dislikes.
4. Being presented with new ideas
Most people don’t like change. Does that sound like you?
Fixed Mindset: “Change sounds exhausting. I’d rather not.”
Someone with a fixed mindset doesn’t care if new ideas are great ideas. If those new ideas require change or effort, or have a learning curve, someone with a fixed mindset simply sees this as a hassle. They often think things like “why would we fix what isn’t broken?” or “I don’t want to have to learn an entirely new process” even if the new way could really benefit them down the road.
Growth Mindset: “I know change can be uncomfortable. But if it’s for the best, let’s do it.”
Someone with a growth mindset doesn’t shut down a new idea just because it is new. They are curious. They might realize that change can be a struggle, but if it means better or more efficient processes in the long run, they know it’s worth a little headache upfront.
5. If you have a fear of failure
Fixed Mindset: “I’d rather not try than try and fail.”
Someone with a fixed mindset won’t try to overcome their fear of failure. They recognize that they are fearful, and they let that fear hold them back from taking that first step in the direction of their goals. People with a fixed mindset are often very worried about what others think of them, and they let that worry stop them from chasing their dreams. They’d rather stay in their comfort zone than put themselves out there. Fear paralyzes people with a fixed mindset.
Growth Mindset: “I’m a little scared. But I’m willing to try any way.”
People with a growth mindset understand that fear is a part of the process. They understand that nothing comes easy, and that if you are going to go after the life of your dreams that fear will often be right beside you in the passenger seat.
Fear doesn’t stop people with a growth mindset. It might scare them from time to time, but it doesn’t stop them.
6. Learning new skills
Fixed mindset: “I’m just not cut out for this”.
If you are struggling to learn a new skill with a fixed mindset, you might be on the brink of giving up.
You’re probably frustrated that you haven’t mastered your new skill by now, and you’re probably beating yourself up for all of the reasons why this may be true. You might think things like “I knew I wasn’t going to be able to learn this” or “I’m just not cut out for this”. Inundating yourself with thoughts like these isn’t good for your confidence, and makes it take even longer to finish learning the new skill (if you ever finish learning it).
Growth mindset: “I’m committed to lifelong learning.”
People with a growth mindset recognize that learning new skills is hard, but they don’t let that get to them. If anything, they are proud of themselves for attempting to learn something challenging and new!
Growth-minded people are proud of the intentionality it takes to set aside time in their busy life to learn something new. They are proud of the focus, patience, and consistency that they’ve practiced. They know that learning new things makes them a more interesting and well-rounded person.
When things get tough, and they’re struggling to understand or comprehend something, they take a break and give themselves some grace. They think things like “maybe I’ll be better equipped to learn this tomorrow after a good night’s sleep”. They don’t give up when challenges arise because they know that challenges are just a part of the process, and struggle doesn’t mean they’re not good enough to learn the new skill.
7. Witnessing others’ success
Fixed mindset: “I’ll never be as good as them.”
If you have a fixed mindset, you let comparison run your life. You see someone else have the thing that you want, and you get upset about it instead of using it as motivation to fuel your own journey. Somewhere deep down you don’t believe you are deserving of the success that seems to come so easily to other people – or – you make other people’s success mean that because they have it, you can’t.
Growth mindset: “Good for them. My time’s coming!”
People with a growth mindset are aware that other people will be successful. They understand that competition is everywhere. But they also don’t let the success of others deter them from chasing after their dreams anyway.
It is easy to compare and get discouraged. You may be worried that other people are farther along than you. You may be worried that someone else got there faster. But no matter what, if you have a growth mindset, you understand that competition and comparison is part of the journey, and that other people having success doesn’t mean that it isn’t possible for you. If anything, it shows that success is possible, because it’s proof that the success you desire exists!
8. When you make mistakes
Fixed mindset: “I’ll never learn.”
Fixed mindset people don’t learn from their mistakes. And it’s not because they aren’t able to, but rather, because they don’t believe they can. Instead, they beat themselves up and don’t spend time thinking about how they’ll do things better next time.
Growth mindset: “I’m bummed I made a mistake, but all mistakes are learning experiences. It won’t happen again.”
Growth mindset people are thankful for their bad mistakes. While their mistakes can be really painful, deep down they might think “well, at least now I know not to do that again.” This is not to say that they don’t beat themselves up, but they also know that they are human and that all humans make mistakes from time to time.
Two Different Types of Mindsets: Which Are You?
You can say that people with a growth mindset tend to have a more positive attitude than those with a fixed mindset. It can be hard to be positive if you don’t think you can ever change, but with a growth mindset, anything is possible.
If you are someone who enjoys personal development or personal growth, then I think you probably lean more toward having a growth mindset. What do you think? Let me know in the comments which mindset you think you have.
This post was all about fixed mindset vs growth mindset examples.