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Last Updated on April 9, 2020

Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset: 9 Distinct Differences

Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset: 9 Distinct Differences

Whether you are leaping into learning through college, university, or on your own time, there is one thing that is key. That is your mindset.

While these experiences in life will challenge you, it is your mindset that will determine whether you will succeed or fail. But also how much you grow.

In the end, our learning capabilities boil down to two mindsets that we must choose. Either a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. This growth mindset vs fixed mindset relationship is everything and is your key to success.

What we might not be aware of is the fact that we’ve already selected that mindset years ago. So to help out, I’ve put together differences between these two mindsets so that you can identify the problems and begin to grow yourself.

What Is a Fixed Mindset?

Coined by Carol Dweck, a fixed mindset, as she explains, is a mindset where everything is fixed.[1] Whether it is your intelligence or your abilities, everything is the same.

If you’re not good at something, someone who has a fixed mindset will think you’ve never been good at it and will never be good at it. There is no opportunity for you to learn and grow at all.

What Is a Growth Mindset?

Compare this to a growth mindset and it’s the polar opposite. Even when someone isn’t good at something, a growth mindset ensures that the person thinks they’ll get better over time.

While you can already see some differences on the surface between a growth mindset vs fixed mindset, there are more aspects to these than that.

9 Differences Between a Growth Mindset and a Fixed Mindset

Digging deeper, you’ll find these mindsets to be different in all manner of things. This is a persons way of thinking and viewing the world. When we change how we view things, our entire lives change. Consider these differences.

1. Differences in Challenges

The first aspect is how they approach challenges.

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People who have a fixed mindset will do everything they can to avoid challenges in their life. If there is an easier solution that their talents can overcome, they’ll take it.

Some examples of this are things like not studying for a test because they’re not good at the subject. That or only doing specific tasks at work that they know they can do with little issues.

On the other hand, those with a growth mindset embrace challenges in their lives. Yes, some of the work or effort may come out short, but they understand failure is part of learning.

What matters to them is that they have tried their best in those moments. After that, they learn and grow from the experience.

2. Differences in Handling Feedback

Second is how each one handles feedback and criticism.

For those with a fixed mindset, they will react in a negative way. Some will hate you and harbor disdain while others will ignore or avoid it as much as possible.

For those with a growth mindset, they view these talks as opportunities to grow. While it’s about their work and efforts, they don’t see it as an attack on their abilities. Provided that the criticism is valid, these individuals will take it to heart and incorporate it into their lives.

3. Difference in Intelligence

In particular, the belief of intelligence.

As I mentioned above, a fixed mindset is fixed. So when it comes to intelligence in a topic or skill, you either have it or not.

On the other hand, someone with a growth mindset believes that intelligence isn’t an inherent skill and can be developed. They believe that if they put in enough effort, things will move along.

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4. Differences in Tolerance

What I mean by tolerance is how long people can tolerate something before giving up or stopping.

For those with a fixed mindset, these are people who give up too easily. This shouldn’t be much of a surprise as I mentioned already they like to avoid problems and challenges. Any sort of roadblock will destroy someone if they think this way.

Those with a growth mindset though, are persistent and try harder. They’re not ones to shy away from challenges. And even if they fail, they try again later.

5. Differences in Viewed Success

It’s also worth looking at how the growth mindset vs fixed mindset view success.

For a fixed mindset individual, they are often jealous of those who succeed in anything. Deep down though, these individuals experience self-doubt which turns in jealousy but also insecurity.

Compared to a growth mindset individual, they get inspired by seeing others succeed. In many cases, they even help others around them succeed. That’s because they believe in themselves and feel they can help others too.

6. Differences in Failure

To no surprise by this point, those with a fixed mindset will shield themselves from failure. If they ever experience it, it’s often a negative experience. In fact, many people get stuck on one failure for their entire life.

It’s as if one failure has barred them from ever putting in effort into that area again.

But those with a growth mindset don’t have the word “failure” in their vocabulary. They see these as setbacks or opportunities to learn. They’re more eager to learn from their failures and are willing to grow as a person.

7. Differences In Learning

Their attitude about learning also is a key difference too.

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For those with a fixed mindset, they stop learning after post-secondary. They think that the learning ends after that point and you have to use that knowledge for the rest of your life.

Those with a growth mindset though know the truth though. They know industries, people, and the world changes around them. We live in an information age where more information is being put out every day. They recognize that learning doesn’t stop after college or university. It’s only starting.

8. Differences In Confirmation

One aspect that Dweck touches on in her book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success is the desire for confirmation between the mindsets.

She writes:

I’ve seen so many people with this one consuming goal of proving themselves — in the classroom, in their careers, and in their relationships. Every situation calls for a confirmation of their intelligence, personality, or character. Every situation is evaluated: Will I succeed or fail? Will I look smart or dumb? Will I be accepted or rejected? Will I feel like a winner or a loser? . . .

For those with a fixed mindset, this is a constant element for them. They need to prove to themselves and to others that they are valuable. It’s akin to our kids posting on social media for validation. Their attitude about themselves is judged by how many likes or comments they get.

It all boils down to numbers.

For those with a growth mindset, this aspect doesn’t exist. Sure there is some confirmation, but it stems from inside rather than from outside sources.

As Dweck explains in her book:

Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.

9. Differences in Effort

While this is an obvious one on the surface, there is more to it than that. After all, a mindset is developed through events and how we interpret those events in our lives.

For the fixed mindset, while they will do anything to avoid any negative events, that desire stems from deeper beliefs. Yes, they think everything is a fixed level, but that belief stemmed from how they were raised.

In the end, those with a fixed mindset believe that effort stems from their own abilities they had already.

Compare that to a growth mindset, their belief system is that effort stems from their current effort in developing something. They believe that effort stems from the action of doing something and learning from those experiences.

Final Thoughts

Being able to recognize the differences between growth mindset vs fixed mindset is key because it shapes our reality.

Even if you have a few of these aspects in the fixed mindset category, they can cause some problems.

People have given up doing something all because they experienced one failure or major setback in life.

If you think you need the approval of your talents, it suggests a lack of confidence in your skills. This can translate to how much you want to challenge yourself and develop yourself in that area.

A mindset shapes our view of the world and the people that are in it. When we change our mindset to that of growth, we clearly see the world in a different light. By developing yourself in this area and adopting this mindset, you too can change your life and grow more than ever.

More Tips About Growing Your Mindset

Featured photo credit: Adolfo Félix via unsplash.com

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Reference

More by this author

Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Published on October 22, 2020

What Is Analysis Paralysis (And How to Overcome It)

What Is Analysis Paralysis (And How to Overcome It)

Have you ever taken so long trying to solve a problem that you just ended up going around in circles? How about trying to make a major decision and just freezing up when the time to decide came?

You might have found yourself gathering too much information, hoping it will help you make the best decision—even if it takes you too long to do so. This probably led to many missed opportunities, especially in situations where you needed to act on time.

Nobody wants to make the wrong decision. However, delayed decision making can have a hugely negative impact on all aspects of your life—from your personal relationships to your career. Delaying important decisions can be the worst decision of all.

At one point or another, people get stuck at a decision impasse they can’t seem to overcome. This is due to a mental blindspot called information bias, informally known as analysis paralysis.

Analysis Paralysis and Stalled Decisions

Information bias, or analysis paralysis, is our tendency to seek more information than is needed to make decisions and take action.[1] It is one of many cognitive biases that cause us to make mistakes during the decision-making process.

A related cognitive bias is the status quo bias, which is our tendency to prefer that things stay the same and fear any changes.[2] Together with analysis paralysis, these two dangerous judgment errors pose a threat to our successful navigation through our rapidly-shifting world.

Consider what happened to Lily, a consulting client of mine who’s a mid-level manager in the UX department of a large tech company. Lily had been there for 5 years and was thinking about switching to a startup after a couple tried to recruit her.

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However, she had been taking a lot of time making a decision. In fact, before she contacted me, she had already gathered information and talked to a lot of people for 7 months. Realistically, more information won’t sway her decision, but she kept trying to gather more information.

And then, there was the technology company that came to me after their growth started to decline. The company had initially experienced rapid growth with a couple of innovative products. However, its growth started to decrease—unfortunate, but not unexpected.

Essentially, the company’s growth followed the typical S-curve growth model, which starts as a slow and effortful start-up stage. This is followed by a rapid growth stage, then a slowdown in growth, often following market saturation or competitive pressure or other factors. This is the point where the company’s existing products reach maturity.

However, even before a slowdown hits, forward-thinking companies would innovate and change things up proactively. This is so they could have new products ready to go that would maintain rapid growth.

Unfortunately, this wasn’t the case with this particular tech company. Not only did they not address the potential decline but once the company’s growth stalled, the leaders dug their heels in and stayed the course. They kept on analyzing the market to find the cause of the problem.

Worse, a couple of executives in the company proposed launching new products, but most of the leadership was cautious. They kept on asking for guarantees that the products would be a success, demanding more information even when additional information wasn’t relevant.

Both Lily and the tech company remained paralyzed by too much information when they should already have taken action. While this situation isn’t unexpected, it is totally avoidable.

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As I told both parties when they consulted me, all they needed to do was to face analysis paralysis head-on and make a decision. But they had to follow the best decision-making process available first, didn’t they?

8-Step Decision-Making Process to Avoid Analysis Paralysis

I told Lily and the leaders at the tech company that we should never go with our gut if we want to avoid disasters in our personal and professional lives.[3] Instead, I advised them, as I advise you now, to follow data-driven, research-based approaches, such as the one I’ll outline below.

From hiring a new employee, launching a new product, selecting a Zoom guest speaker for your annual video conference to deciding whether to apply for a higher-level position within your company, the following steps will help you fight analysis paralysis and make the best decisions possible.

1. Identify the Need to Launch a Decision-Making Process

This is particularly important when there’s no explicit crisis that cries out for a change or decision to be made. Such recognition is also applicable when your natural intuitions are keeping you from acknowledging the need for a tough decision.

Remember that the best decision-makers take the initiative to recognize the need for decisions before they become an emergency. They also don’t let gut reactions cloud their decision-making capacity.

2. Gather Relevant Information From a Wide Variety of Informed Perspectives

Listen especially to opinions you disagree with. Contradicting perspectives empower you to distance yourself from the comfortable reliance on your gut instincts, which can sometimes be harmful to decision-making. Opposing ideas also help you recognize any potential bias blind spots, and this allows you to come up with solutions that you may not have otherwise.

3. Paint a Clear Vision of Your Desired Outcome

Using the data gleaned from step 2, decide which goals you want to reach. Paint a clear vision of the desired outcome of your decision-making process. You should also recognize that what seems to be a one-time decision may turn out to be a symptom of an underlying issue with current processes and practices. Make addressing these root problems part of the outcome you want to achieve.

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4. Make a Decision-Making Process Criteria

Make a decision-making process criteria to weigh the various options of how you’d like to get to your desired outcome. As much as possible, develop these criteria before you start to consider choices. Our intuitions bias our decision-making criteria to encourage certain outcomes that fit our instincts. As a result, you get overall worse decisions if you don’t develop criteria before starting to look at options.

5. Generate Several Viable Options

We tend to fall into the trap of generating insufficient options to make the best decisions, and this can lead to analysis paralysis. To prevent this, you should generate many more options than you usually would. Generate several viable options that can help you achieve your decision-making process goals. Go for 5 attractive options as the minimum.

Keep in mind that this is a brainstorming step, so don’t judge options no matter how far fetched they might seem. In my consulting and coaching experience, the optimal choice often involves elements drawn from out-of-the-box options.

6. Weigh These Options and Pick the Best One

When weighing your options, beware of going with your initial preferences. Try to see your preferred choice in a harsh light. Also, do your best to separate each option from the person who proposed it. This minimizes the impact of personalities, relationships, and internal politics on the decision itself.

7. Implement the Option You Chose

For implementing the decision, you need to minimize risks and maximize rewards, since your goal is to get a decision outcome that’s as good as possible.

First, imagine that the decision completely failed. Then, brainstorm about all the problems that led to this failure. Next, consider how you might solve these problems, and integrate the solutions into your implementation plan.

Next, imagine that the decision absolutely succeeded. Brainstorm all the reasons for success and consider how you can bring these reasons into life. Then, integrate what you learned into implementing the decisions.

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Finally, develop clear metrics of success that you can measure throughout the implementation process. This will enable you to check if you’re meeting the goals you identified in step 3. It will also help guide your goal-setting process—something to keep in mind when you use this decision-making technique again in the future.

8. Set a Reminder to Use the Process for Future Decisions

Regularly check if it’s time to employ the decision-making process once again. As discussed in the first step, there may be times when there’s no explicit crisis that cries out for a change, even though underlying issues might already be signaling that it’s time for a tough decision.

Setting a reminder—perhaps a visual one such as a note on your desk, or even just a scheduled alert on your phone—will ensure that you can catch decision-making cues before they’re due.

While Lily and the tech company initially had to fight off a lot of discomforts when using the process, they were ultimately rewarded with sound decisions they were immensely satisfied with.

This battle-tested method will do the same for you. It will certainly propel your decision-making and, at the same time, help you thwart analysis paralysis and avoid decision disasters.

Conclusion

Nobody wants to make the wrong decision, but you also don’t want to take too long and miss opportunities. By using a data-driven and research-based approach to decision making, you can nip analysis paralysis in the bud and make the best decisions.

More Tips to Overcome Analysis Paralysis

Featured photo credit: Muhmed El-Bank via unsplash.com

Reference

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