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Mindset #6: Fixed or Growth Mindset

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Mindset #6: Fixed or Growth Mindset?

Good morning, Team Room – as usual, I’m way behind on postings for the Mindset Series. Better late than never. Keeping it going with Mindset #6: Fixed or Growth?

Enjoy! As always, send feedback, criticism, discussion, and/or disagreement. I’d love to hear from you!

Mindset #6: Fixed or Growth Mindset?

Mindset #6: Fixed vs. Growth

For Philadelphia 76ers, and NBA All-Star, Joel Embiid a growth mindset is what he calls The Process (TTP: Trust the Process). Gary Keller, of Keller Williams Real Estate, and author of The One Thing, encourages us to ask ourselves his Focusing Question: “What’s the ONE THING I can do, such that by doing it, everything else will be easier or unnecessary?” He’s asking better questions, not jumping to better answers! Both examples point directly back to Dr. Carol Dweck’s decades of research into two broad types of mindsets: Fixed and Growth. I’ve found the philosophy and practice of her research to useful in what language I use, my thinking, and in actual practice.

A Fixed mindset is simply one in which we believe our qualities are carved in stone. They are immovable. This fixed state induces upon us an “urgency to prove yourself over and over.” Under a Fixed mindset, we feel we either succeed or fail, look smart or dumb, are accepted or rejected. Outcomes are binary. When Fixed we’re either good or bad at a thing. It’s strictly a win or lose thing. This binary mindset leaves very little room for intent, development, character, and growth. Conversely, a Growth mindset is open-ended. It’s a win or learn mindset, “based on the belief that your basic qualities” are simply a starting point. Our so-called talent is simply one piece of raw material to be shaped and molded. The hallmark of the Growth mindset is “sticking to it even (or especially) when it’s not going well.” It’s not about a grade in a Growth mindset, it’s about the preparation, attitude, and effort we apply. It’s about what we learn, and how we adjust and then implement new practices.

“For me the joy of athletics has never resided in winning,” says multiple Olympic gold medalist Jackie Joyner-Kersee, “I derive just as much happiness from the process as from the results.”

A Fixed mindset locks us into being a finished product. Everything that happens after we decide we’re a “finished product” is an endless game of validating and protecting that “version” we fixed in place. As soon as you waver or fail at something you begin to question everything about that version of yourself. A Growth mindset seeks new and novel experiences that continue to shape who we are while we build new capabilities. Growth mindset people are typically self-effacing, are constantly asking questions, and have the ability to confront the most brutal answers.

Listen to your language today! Is it fixed? Or are you leaving room for winning and learning? Are you assigning “good and/or bad” to an outcome? Or are you looking for the seams in an outcome where you can apply learning, adjusting, and applying new practices? Each day we get a chance to stay fixed in-place, or growing towards a higher plane!


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