We often hear that we should let go of our “fixed” mindset and open up to a growth mindset. Mostly, people ignore this advice and take it as useless positive jargon often used in mainstream motivation media. But the truth is that a growth mindset can mean a difference between someone who achieves their goals and one who doesn’t.
So this begs the question, what exactly is a growth mindset? And what are the characteristics of a growth mindset?
Well, this article will explore the definition and characteristics of a growth mindset. We will also compare it to a fixed mindset so you know where you fall short and what you can do to improve. We have a lot to unpack, so let’s get started.
- What’s a Growth Mindset?
- Characteristics of a Growth Mindset
- You Have a Passion for Learning
- You’re Curious and Unafraid to Ask Questions
- You Value Effort and Believe That It Counts
- You Believe Progress Beats Perfection
- You Invite Challenges
- You Learn From Your Mistakes
- You Take Calculated Risks
- You Focus on Performance and Not Results
- You Appreciate Feedback
- You Don’t Dwell On the Past
- You Have Self-Discipline and Intentional Commitment
- You Don’t Give Up
- You Believe in Yourself
- Key Takeaways on Growth Mindset
- Welcome the Mind Shift
What’s a Growth Mindset?
A growth mind is an idea that abilities and skills can be learned and improved over time. These include our intelligence, skill set, and problem-solving, among other aspects of life. In other words, you’re in control of your abilities.
A fixed mindset is the direct opposite of a growth mindset. It is the idea that our abilities are innate, and there’s not much we can do to change or improve them; some people are naturally good at things, and others are not.
A common aspect between these two mindsets is talent. With a growth mindset, you accept that there’s talent, but you also acknowledge that there’s room for learning and improvement if you do the work.
Characteristics of a Growth Mindset
If you have a growth mindset, then you exhibit the following characteristics:
You Have a Passion for Learning
This is among the prominent characteristics of a growth mindset. People with a growth mindset have an immense passion for learning.
They like to read informative books, try out new things, make friends with experts in their fields, learn from different cultures, and generally partake in any activity to expand their knowledge. They understand that learning will help them achieve their goals faster and more efficiently.
On the other hand, closed-minded people loathe trying new things. They are afraid of change because they know it takes effort. They like to stick to old ways of doing things, even if that means getting the same results repeatedly.
You’re Curious and Unafraid to Ask Questions
People with a growth mindset don’t mind looking dumb in front of their colleagues. If they have questions, they ask. Their curiosity doesn’t allow them to remain silent when they don’t know how something works. They even believe that if they are the smartest person in the room, they are in the wrong place.
Also, they are not just looking for surface-level knowledge. They want to understand the inner workings of something and what happens behind the scenes.
People with a fixed mindset are the complete opposite. They are afraid to ask questions because they don’t want others to think they are dumb. They pretend to understand the whole situation, even if that means remaining in the dark.
You Value Effort and Believe That It Counts
People with a fixed mindset believe you shouldn’t put in the effort if you’re genuinely good at something. These people may also think that if something takes too much effort for you to do, you’re not good enough to do it, and you were never meant to do it. But this is not true. Everything in life requires effort. And yes, sharpening inborn talents also involves action.
People with a growth mindset believe you must work to get results. Even at the peak of their success, they still put in extra effort because they believe there is always room for improvement.
You Believe Progress Beats Perfection
People with a growth mindset never get caught up in the perfectionism make-believe. As long as they are doing their best and making progress toward achieving their goals, then they are fine. For all they know, perfectionism is the enemy of action.
People with a fixed mindset are so fixated on perfection that they even shy away from taking action. They are afraid that others will mock and judge them if they are not perfect. But we all know that’s not true. Nobody is perfect, and a moral person would never look down on another for not being so.
You Invite Challenges
Challenges for you are just stepping stones and not signals to stop. Every challenge is an opportunity to learn something new and improve your techniques, processes, and skill set. People without a growth mindset give up in the face of challenges. They were taught to back down and avoid challenging situations because it is a threat to them.
You Learn From Your Mistakes
People with growth mindsets are unafraid to make mistakes because they know it’s an excellent learning opportunity. And when they make a mistake, they don’t get beat up by it. Instead, they learn from it and put mechanisms in place to ensure the mistake never happens again.
This approach is very different for people with a fixed mindset. They don’t want to make mistakes because they fear what others might say about them – they care more about preserving a good image. They get worked up, discouraged, and doubt their abilities whenever they make a mistake.
Letting your mistakes beat you down is useless. Mistakes should only be used as lessons and as a future reference for making informed decisions. They shouldn’t define who you are as a person or limit your abilities.
You Take Calculated Risks
Taking risks is an inevitable part of life, and people with a growth mindset understand this better than anyone else. They are unafraid of taking risks but, of course, in a non-naive way. They know that exploring new territories might open doors to new opportunities and adventures.
Closed-minded people bow out when taking risks because they fear stepping out of their comfort zones. They are so tethered to their routines and old way of doing things that they are threatened by what change might bring – they play it safe.
You Focus on Performance and Not Results
If you have a growth mindset, you don’t want to finish and forget about a project. Instead, you focus on your performance and ensure that you follow the best practices to help you achieve the best possible results. You’re not basic. You always put your best foot forward to deliver outstanding results.
People who don’t have a growth mindset tend to focus on the results rather than the performance. When they have an assignment, they want to do it as quickly as possible and forget about it. They don’t put in any effort to ensure that the best practices are used during a project.
You Appreciate Feedback
People with a growth mindset are receptive to constructive feedback, whether positive or negative.
They use positive feedback to improve what they are already doing right and negative ones to help them correct their past mistakes. Feedback is vital because it allows them to improve, review and refine their processes.
Those who don’t have a growth mindset get defensive when they get constructive criticism. They take it as an attack on a personal level and refuse to see purpose in it.
You Don’t Dwell On the Past
This is among the best characteristics of a growth mindset. People with this mindset don’t dwell on the past. Instead, they focus on the present and look forward to the future.
Dwelling on the past can be crippling, especially if you focus on the mistakes you made. And sometimes, focusing on past achievements can be lethal too.
You can get so fixated on past achievements that you forget you still need to work on future goals – you subconsciously slip into a comfort zone.
Those with a fixed mindset dwell on the past and reminisce about their successes and failures. And they forget that the present is here and the future awaits.
You Have Self-Discipline and Intentional Commitment
Discipline is one of the significant characteristics of a growth mindset. People with a growth mindset set goals and remain disciplined to follow through with them. They are committed and won’t let things that are not essential get in the way of their success.
You Don’t Give Up
A stronghold for people with a growth mindset is the ability to persevere in adversity. They remain steadfast and come out on the other side as winners.
People with fixed mindsets are easily turned away when faced with adversity. They typically throw a pity party and don’t try to stick it out. Some use adversity as an excuse to underperform.
You Believe in Yourself
Believing in yourself is one of the crucial characteristics of a growth mindset. It might sound like a cliche, but people with a growth mindset believe that they have what it takes to complete the goals and challenges they have set for themselves. They don’t wait for other people’s validation because they have high self-esteem and confidence.
People with a growth mindset also don’t let others step on their toes or intimidate them. They know how to keep and protect their power.
On the other hand, closed-minded people have little faith in their capacity, and the worst part is that they don’t believe they can learn.
Key Takeaways on Growth Mindset
The Components of a Growth Mindset and How They Connect
There are four main components of a growth mindset:
A growth mindset means looking at the above components positively and trying to join the dots between them — you put in the effort to provide your best, courageously face challenges and make mistakes, and finally, accept feedback and use it to refine your process.
A Growth Mindset Is a Spectrum
If you don’t meet all of the above characteristics, that doesn’t necessarily mean that you don’t have a growth mindset. And you’re not alone. After all, a growth mindset is a spectrum rather than binary.
Different times, days, or situations may see you in a growth mindset. However, other times you might slip back into a fixed mindset. And that’s okay.
Now that you understand how the growth mindset works and its various characteristics, you can analyze yourself and determine where you fall on the scale. Also, it helps to identify the cause of your mindset.
Is it caused by your beliefs, the people you surround yourself with, or just a lack of knowledge on the topic? After that, be intentional about maintaining a growth mindset across all aspects of your life. Refer to the characteristics above and try to follow them consciously when handling situations.
Welcome the Mind Shift
If this article made you realize that you have a fixed mindset, then this is not the time to put yourself down or get worked up about it. All you have to do is accept that you have been in a dark place and need a mental shift.
And if you want to slip into a growth mindset, remember nobody is perfect, and you don’t have to do it instantaneously. It takes time and effort and is a gradual process. Just take baby steps and slowly adapt the characteristics of a growth mindset — one at a time.