When I first started reading about this and learning more about it, my first thought is ‘WOW’. This has the potential to change everything that I do moving forward, for myself and everyone around me.

Carol Dweck’s theories on mindset have been instrumental in changing the lives of thousands of people. Not in just small ways but in huge ways. Entire classrooms have gone from being the poorest performing classroom to the top-performing classroom. She has shown this over and over again backed up with scientific research. Every single time someone moves from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset, the opportunities for them become extremely great. They’re much more willing to take on new challenges and tasks. It can have a huge impact on all aspects of your life.

I’m going to do my best to explain her work but this is definitely something that you want to read about in her book – Growth Mindset. It is a must-read for anyone who wants to make improvement in themselves and help other people change their behavior in a positive manner.

Here is a snapshot of the two mindsets that Carol Dweck believes that most people fall under. Before I get into it, I do want to admit that obviously this is going to be more of a tendency to be either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. It can vary depending on what’s happening with the person. But in a general rule, people tend to fit either in a fixed mindset or a growth mindset with how they approach learning, changing their behavior, or doing something different.

Carol Dweck's Theories on Mindset

Let’s take a look at the fixed mindset. A person with a fixed mindset has an idea of their innate ability to perform tasks or learn something. They view their skillset as being fixed. It’s something that they’re born with and it’s something that they don’t have the ability to improve on. This has a huge detrimental impact on everything that they’re exposed to. So when they are exposed to something new, it challenges their idea of who they are because their skill set is fixed. When they have a problem doing it, they see it as a reflection on them as an individual. So there’s going to be a tendency for them to avoid challenges. Challenges that are failed represent them as a failure for them as an individual. Therefore, their worth as a person is somehow diminished because they have failed. They can’t change who they are so if they don’t know something or they fail at doing something, it’s a reflection of themselves. They tend to avoid challenges, they give up easily, they see effort as fruitless, or worse, a complete waste of time. Negative feedback only reinforces the fact that their identity is challenged and their worth as an individual is reflected in their failure. So when they see someone else succeeding, they feel threatened by the success of others because success is tied to someone’s innate ability. Therefore, if someone else is succeeding where they are failing, then that’s a reflection that the other person is a better person than they are.

There are a lot of restrictions placed on taking on new challenges, moving outside the comfort zone, learning new things. Things become very fixed and they will go out of their way to avoid challenges. This becomes extremely limited for anybody who wants to grow as a person learn, change their behavior, or do anything beyond what they currently don’t.


Now let’s take a look at someone with a growth mindset. They believe that if someone else can learn something, they can learn it too. It’s only a matter of understanding the process or the steps of learning. Therefore, their ability to perform tasks or their skillset is not fixed. They have the ability to expand beyond that.

Now, the world becomes far more open than someone with a fixed mindset. There’s going to be tendency for them to embrace challenges. Challenges are opportunities for them to learn something, to grow beyond their current level. It’s not a reflection of their innate ability because they think more in terms of “It’s flexible”. If someone else can do it, they can do it too. It’s just a matter of repeating the same steps. And if they reach setbacks, it’s just part of the learning process. There is an acknowledgment there that “when I’m learning something new, there is going to be setbacks and I realize that and you need to get beyond that to improve yourself.”

Setbacks are just another step in the process of learning. They see effort as a path to mastery. The more effort that you apply, the better you’re going to get a specific skill and or improve on a certain task.

When thinking in terms of criticism, they welcome criticism! Criticism is feedback. It tells them what they’re doing wrong. It’s not a reflection of them as an individual, it’s part of the process of learning.

“Please give me feedback.”

“Tell me what I’m doing wrong.”

“I want to learn the right way to do it.”

This opens them up to a lot more growth because someone else can provide them with feedback, allow them to correct their behavior and then improve on it and move on versus someone with a fixed mindset, they get feedback, they react emotionally to it, and they get upset. It’s not an opportunity for them to improve and move forward. It is a reflection of their ability as a person which is innate that they can’t change.

The person with a fixed mindset will react negatively to feedback but a person with a growth mindset will see it as an opportunity to learn so that they can learn how to do it right.

And when they see someone else succeeding at something, it’s inspirational! If that person can learn how to do it, so can I.

“I can do that too.”

The success of others only empowers them. As a result, they reach higher levels of achievement and this has a huge impact on many forms of the challenges that they undertake. It can be absolutely huge. It gives them a greater sense of free will and challenges are addressed head-on. They are learned from and they will not be deterred by someone who has a fixed mindset.

So therefore, it’s important to understand that when you’re helping someone change their behavior, you should ask yourself this – do they have a fixed mindset or do they have a growth mindset?

In the next video, I’m going to talk more about how you can determine whether or not someone has a fixed mindset or a growth mindset.