Have you heard of growth vs. fixed mindset? It’s really pretty much just what it sounds like … your mindset is either fixed (meaning you’re stuck in an “it is what it is” mentality) or your mindset is trained on growth (meaning you’re always learning, improving … growing).

Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck, wrote about these concepts in her book “Mindset: The New Psychology of Success.” She says:

“A ‘fixed mindset’ assumes that our character, intelligence, and creative ability are static givens which we can’t change in any meaningful way, and success is the affirmation of that inherent intelligence …”

She goes on to say:

“A ‘growth mindset,’ on the other hand, thrives on challenge and sees failure not as evidence of unintelligence but as a heartening springboard for growth and for stretching our existing abilities.

People with a growth mindset tend to embrace challenges, keep moving forward even in the face of those challenges, understand that effort and repetition is required for mastery. They take criticism in stride and try to learn from it, and instead of feelings of jealousy toward those who succeed, they look for clues and learn from others’ successes. People with a fixed mindset function basically the opposite of this way.”

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How It Affects Your Business

My take on her research is that when you have a fixed mindset, you’re constantly struggling with the question, “Will I win or lose, succeed or fail?” Whereas, when you have a growth mindset, you have a much better question, “What will I learn from this, how will I grow?”

Mindset is a learned pattern that likely started when you were very young. And, I believe, you can have a different mindset for different aspects of your life. So, for instance, as a designer, you may believe you can stretch your creativity and learn new skills that will allow you to be better at your craft. But when it comes to the business aspect of your business, you may have thoughts like: I’m not good at my business finances. I don’t know anything about marketing, so I’m just not going to do it. I don’t want to train someone to help me and then have them leave, so I’m just going to keep doing everything on my own. I’m not a salesperson, so I don’t have much control over whether or not I get a new client.

How to Change a Fixed Mindset

It’s clear that you can change your mindset from fixed to growth in areas where you struggle. To do this, you must first begin by recognizing the fixed-mindset thoughts you have. The ones that sound like, “I can’t ..” or “I don’t …” When you have a negative thought, write it down and look at it for a minute. Think about how can you reframe the thought. For instance: I don’t know anything about marketing, so I’m just not going to do it. Rewritten it becomes: I will learn what I need to know to be successful at marketing my business.

In addition to becoming a positive statement and growth mindset, it becomes actionable. Now, you set out to learn some marketing strategies you can use. Here’s your assignment: Over the next couple of weeks, pay attention to your thoughts and the words that come out of your mouth, and notice if they are fixed or growth statements. When they are fixed, turn them around and practice, practice, practice. You need to have a growth mindset to accomplish your goals and achieve your dreams for your business and your life. I recently wrote about “lack mindset,” which goes hand-in-hand with fixed mindset. Read more about that here.

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