Growth vs. Fixed Mindset (And How to Apply The Former to Your Daily Life)

Wellness Wednesday_ How to apply a growth mindset to your life.


Ok, y’all… can’t lie to you on this one…

I procrastinated the shit outta this post. Mainly because I was waiting to see what you guys would vote for in my Twitter poll, but also because I don’t want to create another fluff post about ‘positive mindset’.

Don’t get me wrong, those posts definitely have their place and I like them myself… but we got enough of that out there.

I want to write something that’s really going to hit home for you. Because your mindset is what’s going to allow you to work smart AND hard.

But what is mindset? What does it even mean?

What is ‘mindset’?

According to the Cambridge Dictionary, a person’s mindset is their “way of thinking and their opinions”. It includes but isn’t limited to your view of the world and how you see yourself in it.

Your mindset is can literally make or break your success… in anything.

I’m not just talking about your business, either. If you aspire to anything at all, it’s really important to get your mind right.

But I think people misunderstand what this really means. Let’s talk about it.

Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

Fixed Mindset

Okey smokey… I found a really nice article on hbr.org (Harvard Business Review) that talks about two types of mindsets: fixed and growth.

People with a fixed mindset tend to think that you’re born with a certain set of talents… and that’s pretty much it. You either have it or you don’t.

This is a slippery, slippery fucking slope. You set yourself up for failure… real failure… because you tell yourself you’re not good at it and you’ll NEVER be good at it. OR you think you’re great at it and you never try to improve. Either way, you’re on a plateau.

Companies that operate under this fixed mindset tend to breed animosity amongst their employees, usually as a result of competition.

Growth Mindset

In contrast, the growth mindset focuses on developing talents through “hard work and good strategies”. You may not be great at it, but if you can learn, you can improve. So the possibilities are almost endless.

Companies that embrace this mindset have employees that feel more “empowered and committed”.

Basically, the difference between the two seems to be the potential for growth. If you think you have an opportunity to progress- get a raise, a promotion, or some kind of recognition for your hard work– you’re more likely to put in the work.

Now here’s the thing… people tend to think,

 

  1. You either have a fixed OR a growth mindset… nothing in between, AND

  2. Simply having a growth mindset is enough to get you where you want to go.

 

I can totally see why people make these assumptions, but needless to say, they’re problematic. For one thing, most people have a fixed mindset about some things and a growth mindset about others. This is because few people naturally have a growth mindset, especially in business… it takes conscious effort.

Weird, huh? You’d think these people who’ve created so much would have inherently open minds… but once they’ve achieved, their minds can become fixed, too.

There are ways to create and maintain a growth mindset… more on that later. First, let’s talk about why it’s important to have a growth mindset, but also when it’s important to stay fixed.

How A Growth Mindset Can Benefit Your Life

Keep your mind focused on growth

1: You’ll Be More Willing To Try New Things

When you’re open to the concept of Y.E.T.- You’re Elligible To- you’re more open to trying new things, therefore finding new opportunities.

Someone I like to think about is Richard Branson, who started so many companies under the Virgin umbrella because he was willing to try things he’d never tried before. He knew that he could supply the passion, drive, and adaptability. And sometimes, a combination of those things and hard work is all it takes.

2: You Might Cut Yourself Some Slack Sometimes

Chances are you’ll stop beating yourself up so fucking much. Why? Because ‘pass or fail’ won’t be the ultimate test of value to you.

If something doesn’t work out, you’ll say to yourself, “Meh, that didn’t really go according to planned. So what do I have now?”, than, “That didn’t work out because I suck. I should never try anything like that again”.

3: The Potential to Broaden Your Worldview

I’m not saying I’ve mastered the growth mindset in any sense- I’m still young and have a LOT of work to do. But something great I’ve noticed by making an effort to stay more open: I care a lot less about what separates me from other people and more about what unites me with them.

I have more empathy, more understanding, and more tolerance for people that I initially may have thought were abhorrent.

Conversing with different people and agreeing with them are two different things. It’s a challenge to have a meaningful conversation with someone you may disagree with deeply. And shit, isn’t life more interesting when you challenge yourself?

4: Success in Business and/or Career

Haha… now for the MAIN reason why some of you are reading this article. Yes, having a growth mindset clears a bigger path for you to be successful in your business endeavors.

This is mainly because you’ll be more open to receive (and apply) actionable advice that maybe you didn’t consider before. In my humble opinion, this is crucial to becoming and remaining a successful person.

5: Change Your Perspective on Success

When you hear or see the word ‘success’, what image pops into your head? For me, it’s an established business woman (like Oprah or Arianna Huffington) wearing a 3-piece suit and diamond jewelry, sipping a coffee and saying, “Don’t give up”.

Whatever yours is, that’s all well and good, but having a growth mindset means opening yourself up to different visions of success.

I think I said it in Sunday’s post, but if you’re happy running a side hustle and waiting tables, that’s an acceptable vision of success. You should enjoy the process of improving on the things that make you happy.

When It’s Important to Stay Fixed

Now look… I totally get that most business articles will define the “fixed” mindset as something bad or to be feared. But I don’t think it’s all bad. I think staying true to certain fundamental things can help you in the long run.

1: What You Allow From Yourself and From Others

Just because I think you should cut yourself some slack & open your mind to different types of people does not mean that I think you should ever accept just anything from anyone.

In your journey to cut yourself some slack when you fall short, stay fixed in your desire to push your limits. And stay fixed in the standard of effort that you expect from other people in your life, particularly your personal relationships.

People are imperfect… that’s a given. But that doesn’t mean that any kind of bullshit (or toxic behavior) is ok.

2: When It Comes to Your Values

I value people, hard work, passion, and patience. That shit ain’t ever gonna change.

No matter how many people tell me I put too much faith in humanity (although it hasn’t been many yet), no matter how many people think I’m ‘being silly’ or ‘ditzy’. (That last one is my favorite, by the way. Go ahead, underestimate me. I like it.)

Because in my opinion, those are the things that make life worth living. So what do you value that you aren’t ever willing to give up on? It’s ok to have those things. Just make sure they’re coming from the right place.

3: Your Worth as a Human Being

I actually don’t get full credit for this one; I have my therapist to thank for this (lol). But I know that, as a person who always tries my best to inject some good into the world, I am valuable. I have worth, I deserve to find happiness, I deserve to love and be loved.

Knowing this and holding tight to it is what gives me the courage to have an open mind. It ultimately feeds my growth mindset.

How to Create & Maintain a Growth Mindset in Your Daily Life

Now that we’ve talked more thoroughly about the growth mindset and what it means, let’s talk about how you can start to apply it to your own life.

1: Start Training Yourself to See Your “Fixed Persona”

Remember when I said changing your mindset took conscious effort? Like so many things in life, it’s a journey, not a destination. You’re never going to get there– to that magical place where your mindset is entirely ‘growth’ with nothing fixed leftover.

You have to start training your mind to recognize when your fixed persona comes out. This is the part of you that believes your failures are more important than your successes, and that all failures are negative.

Newsflash: they aren’t, and they aren’t.

So 1, start to recognize that part of your brain that tells you not to do something because ‘you might mess it up’. And 2, recognize the thought pattern you get into when something doesn’t go according to plan and you’re telling yourself you suck.

These responses are simply your brain trying to keep you out of danger… a stress response. If you’re in no bodily (or legal) danger, then there’s no real reason besides the fear of failure, embarrassment, ridicule. If you want to be successful in anything, that’s how you have to thinking.

2: Get Out Of Your Comfort Zone

Once you’ve recognized your fixed persona, do exactly what it doesn’t want you to do. The potential to fail is an uncomfortable place to be, and that’s exactly where you want to be. Because the potential for failure also means that there is potential for improvement… and ultimately, success.

3: Be Willing to Try New Things

I have molluscophobia. This means I have a completely irrational fear of invertebrates like slugs and snails. Actually, it’s mainly those two… don’t seem to have a problem with octopi, mussels, clams, or oysters…

… though I’ve tried an oyster and, UGH, how can you eat those things?

Anyway, slugs and snails: I don’t like the way they move, I don’t like the way they look, and I don’t even KNOW how they feel, because I’m sure as fuck not gonna touch one.

And yet, one day before a National Anthem gig, I decided to take a bite of my dad’s escargot. (Obviously before I went vegan). I mean, it smelled good, so who knew… I might like it, right?

Well, I didn’t… in fact, I hated it. But we got a funny video out of it that we still watch today.

My point is that even though it was a fail- no denying that- there was still a reward at the end of it. That’s how you should think of new experiences… you might succeed, and that’s great! But if you don’t, there’s still a gem somewhere waiting for you to find it.

4: Stop Thinking So Damn Much

These days, we think too hard about shit that doesn’t matter. We’re so concerned with making sure that we do it right- do it wellthat we never even take the first fucking step.

In order to fly, you must first jump off the damn cliff.

I think Mel Robbins says it best: you’re never going to feel like it. You have about 5 seconds before your brain convinces you not to do something. Once you let those 5 seconds of overthinking go by, you’re probably not going to do it. And boy, will you regret it if someone else does it and achieves something you could have achieved.

Stop thinking so hard and just fucking do it… I genuinely believe that this will start to change the way you move in the world.

mindset

Final Thoughts: I Aspire To Be Kind, Not “Nice”

I just have a few more things to say that may or may not have anything to do with growth mindset, but they’ve definitely changed my mindset…

It’s not my goal to be ‘nice’ or ‘agreeable’… it’s my goal to be kind and make an impact.

Ultimately, those two things are more important than making keeping someone happy because you didn’t call them out when you wanted to… or maybe should have.

Being nice = pleasant, agreeable, satisfactory.

Being kind = having or showing a friendly, generous, and considerate nature

OR

Affectionate; loving.

Sometimes being generous, affectionate, and loving are not synonymous with being pleasant, agreeable and satisfactory.

So forget being “nice”… that shit is for the birds. How can you exercise your growth mindset and be kind to someone today?

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Thanks for reading!!!! Happy Living!!!

Sources I used:

Harvard Business Review (hbr.org), What Having A “Growth Mindset” Actually Means

Cambridge Dictionary, Definition of “mindset”

Derek Sivers (sivers.org), Fixed Mindset vs. Growth Mindset

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