What is the difference between a fixed mind set and a growth mindset?

What you believe about yourself underpins your Mindset. Believe in your Brilliance and your ability to keep learning.

Have you ever asked yourself  “What is the difference between a fixed mind set and a growth mindset?”

Mindset differences are often the topic of books, articles and talks and yet the definitions sometimes get lost in the detail. So let me clarify.





What is a Fixed Mindset?

A Fixed Mindset is a way of thinking based the belief that your personal qualities are set in stone. For example, the you may have been taught to think about IQ tends to encourage this mndset. Many people talk about IQ as if it is a fixed and quantifiable number by which to judge intelligence.


This was not the original intention of Alfred Binet, he was more interested in shaping the education system to help those who had been left behind. Binet believed that intelligence could be developed however popular reporting distorted the intention.


Returning to the definition of a Fixed Mindset, it can be characterised as a belief that traits, qualities and talents are limited and fixed. It creates tension and striving. There can be a sense of not being good enough and having to constantly prove yourself.

What is a Growth Mindset?

A Growth Mindset, on the other hand is based on the belief that your talents, gifts, qualities, characteristics and traits can be developed through learning, teaching, mentoring and experimentation. A Growth Mindset creates a love of learning and a positive self-image. The focus is on improving rather than trying to prove that you are good enough.


Carol Dweck, a leading researcher in the field talks about the power of a simple word, “yet”.

When you attempt something new and don’t quite reach the standard you were aiming at what do you say to yourself?

What is the difference between a Fixed Mindset response and a Growth Mindset response?

A Fixed Mindset response would be:


“I’m not good enough”


A Growth Mindset response would be:


“I’m not there yet! What do I need to do to improve?”


This promotes continued learning and motivation to preserve. The Growth Mindset is often self-rewarding and can be encouraged by teachers and parents.

How does NLP help develop a Growth Mindset?

The linguistic pattern that introduces the use of the word “yet” is one that has long been taught as part of NLP Training. For this reason when you take an NLP Practitioner training you are likely to notice an increase in your ability to  develop a Growth Mindset. As you start to challenge how you think and what you believe about effort and success you start to notice a natural shift.


I’ll write more about this in future posts. For now here is a treat, click the link to hear Carol Dweck talking about the power of “Yet”.

Melody Cheal MSc MAPP
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