Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset

Updated: Jan 7

“The Fixed mindset makes you concerned with how you’ll be judged; the growth mindset makes you concerned with improving.”

Case study:

■ Say you got a C on your first exam…How do you know which mindset you have?

Growth Mindset response:

■ ”The C would tell me that I would have to work a lot harder in the class, but I have all semester to pull up the grade.”

■ Even though you feel distressed, you are ready to take risks, confront challenges, learn and keep working at them.

Fixed Mindset response:

■ I am a total failure

■ I am an idiot..

■ You see your grade as a direct measure of their competence and worth.

The chart below outlines what a growth mindset professor or boss will have and do.

Mindset in Leadership

Growth mindset leaders:

  • They are not constantly trying to prove they are better than others.

  • They don’t highlight the pecking order with themselves at the top.

  • They don’t take credit for others’ contributions.

  • Instead, they are constantly trying to improve.

  • They surround themselves with the most able people they can find.

  • They acknowledge their mistakes and deficiencies and try and fix them.

  • They ask what skills they, and the company will need in the future.

Fixed mindset leaders:

  • They want to be the only big fish so that when they compare themselves to those around them, they can feel superior.

  • They don’t want great teams.

  • These leaders don’t mentor well or have employee development programs.

  • They refuse to look at their deficiencies.

  • They: blame, make excuses, can’t accept criticism.

We all have of areas in our life where we have a tendency to have a fixed mindset about things. Fortunately for all of us our brains have something called neuroplasticity, which means that you can create new neural pathways and patterns of thought. It will take some work to change how you automatically think and respond to things, but with conscious effort, you can develop a growth mindset which sets you up for better things in your future growth.


Dweck, C. (2015). Carol Dweck revisits the growth mindset. Education Week, 35(5), 20-24.

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