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Published on January 29, 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 on Thinking Smarter

Featured photo credit: Adolfo Félix via unsplash.com

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Leon Ho

Founder & CEO of Lifehack

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Last Updated on March 25, 2020

How Systems Thinking Makes You a Smarter Person

How Systems Thinking Makes You a Smarter Person

There are several perspectives on the term systems thinking. The discipline goes beyond a collection of tools and techniques. A lot of individuals are fascinated by tools like brainstorming tools, structural thinking tools, dynamic thinking tools, as well as computer-based tools. They believe the system thinking tools can make them smarter and productive. However, it goes beyond that as systems thinking is more strategic and sensitive to the environment we find ourselves.

So what is systems thinking and why is it good for you?

What Is Systems Thinking?

Systems thinking is a diagnostic tool that can help you to assess problems before taking action. It helps you to ask questions before arriving at conclusions. It prevents you from making an assumption, which is the lowest level of knowledge.

A systems thinker is curious, compassionate, and courageous. The systems thinking approach incorporates the act of seeing the big picture instead of seeing in parts. It recognizes that we are connected, and there are diverse ways to solve a problem.

Characteristics of Systems Thinking

Systems thinking can help you in analyzing the connections between subsystems and understanding their potentials to make smarter decisions.

In a soccer team, the elements are the coach, players, the field, and a ball. The interrelationships are strategies, communications among players, and game rules. The goal is to win, have fun and exercise. We all belong to several systems and subsystems.

Some characteristics of systems thinking include:

  • Issue is important
  • The issue is familiar with well-known patterns
  • Attempts have been made to resolve the issue.

Given these characteristics, systems thinking goes beyond an operational tool; it is a strategic approach and a philosophy.

How to Use Systems Thinking

Here’re 3 ways you can use systems thinking:

1. Understand How the System Works and Use Feedback Points

The first task is to know what system is all about and identify the leverage points or feedbacks that influence its functioning. This is what will help in adjusting the system.

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If you want the system to be productive, enhance the feedback points. If you want it to be less productive, exhaust the same points.

A good example is that of a bathtub. The leverage points are the faucet and the drain. If you forget to close the drain, having turned on the water, the water will never stop flowing, and the tub will never overflow.

If you want more water, close the drain while you turn the water. If otherwise, turn the faucet off and open the drain. You can apply this to your personal development.

Once you discover the feedback points in your life, find your leverage or feedback points, then enhance those points. If you want to be fit, get a trainer, find a mentor, or eat healthy foods.

2. Discover the Patterns, Structure, and Events

Trends and patterns could be compared to clues for a crossword puzzle. As you aspire to enhance the system, trends and patterns offer you hints and cause to shift your paradigm. Usually, they can direct you to unusual and unexpected aspects, to ideas, people, or places you have never thought about.

Smart people watch out for trends and patterns so they can be conversant with changes.

You can view the world from 3 different perspectives:

i. The Event Perspective

If you consider the world from an event perspective, the best you can do is to be smarter is ‘react’. You tend to be smarter by reacting quickly, becoming more lighter on your feet, and flexible as you advance through life.

So how do you view the world from an event perspective? You ask a question like, ‘What happened?’.

There is the possibility of becoming more aware and seeing more at this level. An excellent technique to achieve this is by telling a story to a group. If you can see beyond each event, see beyond patterns and trends, you will be empowered to anticipate, predict, and plan.

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ii. Pattern Perspective

To view the world from a pattern perspective, you need to ask, ‘What has been happening?’

It is most times difficult to see the actual size of an iceberg (underlying structures that are the causes of events). The waterline dissects what’s visible from what’s not visible.

A systems thinker does not assume from what’s visible only; he or she seeks to know what has been happening.

Take a look at this video to understand more about the Iceberg Theory:

 

iii. The Structure Perspective

To view the world from a structure perspective, you need to ask, ‘what is causing issues?’ The answers will be the factors and forces responsible.

If you find yourself in a traffic jam, you don’t blame the next driver as a smart person; you could ask, ‘what’s been causing the traffic jam?

The usual answers could be a decaying road surface, careless driver, or high speed, but that would be the same things identified as trends. What makes the structure perspective different from others.

The structure is what propels your energy. It is what affects happenings. A systems thinkers make deductions based on internal structures to arrive at a conclusion

3. People Problems vs System Problems

Several issues ranging from security breaches, product flaws, poverty, to transportation inefficiencies are systemic.

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Even when you misbehave, there is usually an internal system to blame.

If you are not productive in your business, it may not be caused by you. There may be a system that you need to enhance.

Do you remember our feedback points? As soon as you assess the system, you can focus on people. Is a new hire causing lag in the packaging process? Is poor communication affecting the team’s performance? Reallocating job roles may be a perfect leverage point.

In the traffic jam example, there could be a system-based solution such as installing traffic lights and subsequently enforcing traffic laws in the area to penalize reckless drivers.

How to Foster Learning with Systems Thinking

Systems thinking helps you to appreciate the interrelationships of people, organizations, policies, decisions, ideas, and relationships.

Peter M Senge propounded five disciplines that foster learning in your DNA- whether you are leading an organization, starting a venture, or working as a freelancer.[1]

1. Gain Mastery

You can take online courses, attend conferences, read blog articles and books, listen to podcasts, converse with leaders within and beyond your industry, watch documentaries, learn from your team, and stretch yourself by improving your skills.

2. Discover Your Assumptions and Biases

There was this parable of four blind men who made different assumptions about an elephant. Their assumptions and biases hinder them from understanding how the animal looks like.

Biases can rob you of innovation and prevent you from experiencing personal growth. To become aware of your biases, you have to take an internal trip and engage breakthrough thinking.

3. Establish Your Vision

Systems grind to a halt when the goal or mission is not defined. You will not have the motivation to complete the online course if you don’t know why you subscribe in the first place.

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Is it for career advancement? To up your game or to gain general knowledge? Vision inspires you.

4. Learn in Groups

There is power in shared learning. There is a solidification of understanding when you learn in a group. You can have the lessons etched in your long term memory.

For instance, you can join learning groups where information is shared weekly.

5. Think in Systems

Systems thinking is about lifelong learning and improvement. It has also been linked to the Iceberg principle, which affirms that visible events are insignificant compared to what’s visible. There’s more ice below the waterline than what you can see with your physical eyes.

Anytime you are battling with a challenge, think in systems. Understand the details of the issue. Discover your leverage points. Assess, adapt, and keep improving your models.

After all. If you meet a lion in the wild, you need to understand what you are facing.

Final Thoughts

You can foster systems thinking by modeling your own environment. Participate in training, watch TED Talks, and create time to connect with others.

Also, practice critical thinking instead of making assumptions before you make a decision. The more you think systems, the more you will become smarter and productive in every aspect of your life.

More to Help You Think Smarter

Featured photo credit: Olav Ahrens Røtne via unsplash.com

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