The Growth Mindset – why you are not a failure.

19 Mar, 2020

The Growth Mindset – why you are not a failure.

The Growth Mindset – why you are not a failure.

When people join my coaching community, one of the first questions I ask them is whether they have a fixed or a growth mindset.

What’s the difference?

Fixed in one way of being

The fixed mindset, as the name suggest is all about staying in the same place. Sometimes it is conscious: ‘I’ve never been good at Maths so I may as well not bother.’ More often, it is unconscious – driven by the example of everyone around us and wanting to fit in, or led by the primal brain trying to keep us from getting outside our comfort zone.

It shows up in our life in a number of patterns of thinking.

  • “I was born this way”
  • “It didn’t work once – not worth trying again”
  • “What will people think of me”
  • “I can’t…”
  • “People like Bob better than me”

Growing into

The growth mindset operates differently. It is just as much a mix of the conscious and unconscious but it shows up in different language and behaviours:

  • “What can I learn from this setback?”
  • “I love a challenge”
  • “I’m not skilled at this – so I’ll seek help or learn more”
  • “I have the power to change”
  • “Try, try, try again…”

Not yet

One of the best ways to describe the difference comes from this Ted Talk from Carol Dweck, Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and one of the leading psychologists in this field.

She describes how children respond to failure and to success and how to reward them in a way which doesn’t feed the fixed mindset.

In particular, she emphasis that ‘not passing’ isn’t a fail. It’s just a ‘not yet.’

The choice

It all comes down to the choices we make when faced with a challenge.

Challenge is, by its very nature, uncomfortable – otherwise we wouldn’t feel a sense of achievement in overcoming them. I am not suggesting otherwise and if, in the middle of a difficult time of your life, you feel tired, emotional or upset there is nothing wrong with you!

But then what?

As you come through the challenging time (which may be anything from a few minutes to a few years) take the time to look back and reflect on where you are now and what that difficult time has done for you.

And ask yourself – how did I grow?

If you want to grow and have set goals to take you forward, check out my new goal-setting assessment to check you have everything you need:



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