What Is a Growth Mindset?

A Growth Mindset

You’ve probably heard this popular buzzword or seen it on a social media post. So what is it? Without going into too much detail, a Growth Mindset is an approach, a perspective, and it can be developed over time! This now-popular term was first brought to light in 2006 by Carol Dweck, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University and the author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.  

Here’s how Carol explains the difference between a fixed vs. the Growth Mindset:

In a fixed mindset students believe their basic abilities, their intelligence, their talents, are just fixed traits. They have a certain amount and that's that, and then their goal becomes to look smart all the time and never look dumb. In a growth mindset students understand that their talents and abilities can be developed through effort, good teaching and persistence. They don't necessarily think everyone's the same or anyone can be Einstein, but they believe everyone can get smarter if they work at it.

This blog post is not meant to teach Growth Mindset skills, but I will briefly discuss some research confirmed, remarkable benefits, and what a Growth Mindset is not.

Benefits first!

  • Feeling more comfortable taking personal risks and striving for more stretching goals
  • Higher levels of personal motivation
  • Enhanced brain development across wider ranges of tasks
  • Lower levels of stress, anxiety, and depression
  • Improved work/school relationships
  • Higher levels of performance

Really? how? Well here’s where it gets a bit technical but I’ll make it quick: essentially the brain has the capacity to grow and strengthen its self by the way we think! 

What a Growth Mindset is not! Often, a growth mindset is confused with…

  • Having a positive outlook or being open-minded.   
  • Lip service; the best affirmation in the world won’t replace the implementation of risk-taking, collaboration, or commitment to developing, learning, and real growth.  
  • Another misconception is that a Growth mindset is achieved by praising effort alone. The effort is not the aim, learning is.  

If you a familiar with the Growth Mindset theory, you might notice that it’s becoming more mainstream with teachers & taught to younger children. However, don’t leave out the adults! The tenacity and grit required for a growth mindset doesn’t come naturally- it’s not easy and can be frustrating for adults who have operated in a Fixed Mindset for most of their years. Often in my experience, the only way I know to change the type of person that you believe that you are — to build a better identity for yourself — is to do so with small, repeated actions. That’s the advice, with individualized detail of course, that I give my coaching clients. A Growth Mindset is an ongoing pursuit, has to be nurtured, and requires care. It is not something that can be encouraged and then abandoned. It’s about how we see ourselves, how we can improve, & employ different strategies to improve and learn. 


Until Next time!