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Mindset: Fixed or Growth?

February 4, 2012

Are you more fixed or growth oriented?

I am reading a fascinating book called MINDSET by Carol Dweck.  Dweck is a hot-shot psychology professor at Stanford who is world renowned for her research on achievement and success.  She posits that there is two basic  types of mindsets in the world:  fixed and growth.  A fixed mindset believes that the talent one brings to an endeavor whether intelligence, athletic skill, beauty, musical proficiency or language fluency is largely a fixed capacity that can be altered on slightly through increased effort or practice.  In other words, our natural giftings are critical in determining our success or failure in life.  The growth mindset believes that effort is the critical variable to success in life.  Dweck would acknowledge that most of us have some fixed and some growth mindset in our lives depending on the area or topic.

Now, when I read this, I thought of course, the growth mindset makes more sense.  We are always telling kids that if “you work hard enough you can accomplish your dreams”.  The fixed mindset feels a little Darwinian and limiting.  But, as I continued to read,  I discovered that I have a little more fixed mindset than I would like to acknowledge.

Here’s a little quiz.  Take two jigsaw puzzles or two sudoku or two crosswords or two of anything you like to do.  One of the puzzles should be fairly straightforward and familiar.  The other one should be quite difficult and unfamiliar.  Here’s the question:  If you could only do one puzzle, which one would you choose to do?

Take a moment to think about it and why you would choose that puzzle.  What does it say about your mindset?  You’ll have to read my next post to get the answer!!!  Now how is that for a tease?!!

Patrick Donohue is a Life Coach IN Oak Park, IL.  Contact him at

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