Fixed vs. Growth Mindset: Key Differences (With Tips)

By Indeed Editorial Team

Published 23 October 2022

The Indeed Editorial Team comprises a diverse and talented team of writers, researchers and subject matter experts equipped with Indeed's data and insights to deliver useful tips to help guide your career journey.

Your perspective of yourself and your abilities can be important in both your personal and professional life. If you want to be successful and advance your career, it's beneficial to evaluate your mindset or the attitudes, values and beliefs you have regarding your abilities. Learning the differences between a fixed and growth mindset can help you improve the way you perceive yourself, which may make it easier to persevere at work. In this article, we explain the differences between a fixed and growth mindset, describe the benefits of developing a growth mindset and offer tips for changing your mindset.

Fixed vs. growth mindset

Knowing the differences between a fixed vs. growth mindset can provide you with the confidence necessary to leverage your skill set and progress your career. These outlooks vary significantly, and the one you have may affect your career trajectory and the way you develop goals. Here are the primary differences between these two mindsets:

Definitions

A growth mindset is a perspective where people perceive their abilities as constantly changing and evolving through their experiences. People with this type of mindset usually believe they can improve their skills by engaging in deliberate actions, such as enrolling in a training program or taking a class. For example, a person with a growth mindset might believe that although they were born with a certain level of intelligence and natural abilities, they might be able to improve their skills or competencies through various measures.

In contrast, a fixed mindset is a perspective where people perceive their abilities as static or unchangeable. People with fixed mindsets believe their level of intelligence and skill set is innate. As a result, they may not seek opportunities for professional or personal development. For example, a person with a fixed mindset typically believes they're born with certain talents, so no amount of practise is likely to make a difference in their abilities.

Related: What Is a Growth Mindset? (With Tips to Develop One)

Characteristics

There are several characteristics that distinguish a growth mindset from a fixed mindset, including the beliefs that a person with this mindset possesses. People with a growth mindset believe they can develop and improve their talent, skills and intelligence over time with consistent effort, while people with a fixed mindset believe these attributes are innate at birth. As a result, people with a growth mindset tend to be more likely to take risks and consider challenges to be good learning opportunities. They may also take more time to learn new skills.

People with fixed mindsets are often more hesitant or even completely resistant to new challenges due to their fear of making a mistake or failing to overcome obstacles. Since they believe skills and intelligence are innate, they're less likely to try to improve their abilities through consistent effort. They also tend to perceive the obstacles they experience as permanent, particularly if those obstacles affect their professional life.

Related: 12 Tips for Using Outside-the-Box Thinking at Work

Results

Since people with growth mindsets are more likely to consider the obstacles they experience to be temporary and take steps to test and improve their skills, they may be more likely to experience success in acquiring the skills necessary to progress in their field. They may also be more likely to use the successes of others as inspiration for their own professional development. People with growth mindsets are also more likely to accept feedback from others and use it to make improvements.

Fixed mindsets often prevent people from achieving their full potential, since they believe there's little they can do to change their abilities. People with this mindset are often less likely to progress in their careers since they tend to concede to obstacles more easily. Having a fixed mindset can also cause a person to compare themselves to others, which can potentially cause negative feelings if the person they're comparing themselves to is experiencing success. By reassessing these negative feelings, it's possible to use the successes of others as a basis for motivation.

Related: How to Stop Being a Perfectionist: 12 Practical Ideas

Benefits of developing a growth mindset

There are numerous professional benefits of developing a growth mindset to gain the skills and knowledge you require to succeed in your career. Some benefits of this mindset include:

It helps you progress in your career

When you have a growth mindset, you can use your learnt experiences to advance your career more easily. For example, if you believe that it's possible to improve your skills and attributes, you're more likely to work to achieve a promotion or raise. Having a growth mindset can also be useful if you hope to change careers or pursue entrepreneurship. For example, if you want to start a business, a growth mindset can encourage you to learn business basics, such as financial management and online advertising.

It makes it easier to overcome setbacks

A growth mindset can also make it easier for you to persevere in new or difficult situations. Having resilience can help you learn from your mistakes and become more engaged at work, which has the potential to help you throughout your career. Employers in a wide range of industries consider resilience to be an important attribute, as it can enable employees to better handle stress, allowing them to make more informed judgements and avoid conflicts in the workplace.

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It can improve your ability to communicate

Having a growth mindset can make it easier to learn from others and communicate your concerns to your colleagues. With a growth mindset, you can actively seek to improve your abilities and engage with others. By becoming a more valuable team member, your colleagues can learn to rely on you for new projects and you can help them stay focused.

It can lead to increased innovation

Having a growth mindset can make it easier for you to create long-term goals and take risks that could affect your short-term milestones but may eventually lead to greater benefits. This mindset can also help you become more flexible in your approach to your work, which may foster increased innovation. Increased innovation in the workplace can improve your problem-solving skills and help you adapt to changes in the industry.

Tips for changing your mindset

Changing your mindset from fixed to growth can help you accomplish more in the workplace, even when you encounter unexpected challenges. Not only can changing your mindset help you work more productively and efficiently, but it can also benefit you outside of work by increasing your confidence. Here are some tips to help you reassess your mindset:

Seek feedback

Ask for feedback from your colleagues or supervisor regularly to identify your existing strengths and areas for growth. You can then use this feedback to motivate yourself to overcome challenges and handle new tasks. Consider writing down the feedback others give you and reviewing it periodically to remind yourself of your improvements.

Related: Why Is Feedback Important in the Workplace? (With Tips)

Find ways to learn

There are a variety of ways for you to learn, and it can be useful to try different activities and engage in new experiences to determine what's most effective for you. Review different learning strategies to learn how to best maximise your learning potential. For example, you may discover that you learn more effectively through experimental learning rather than through direct instruction.

Related: Learning Styles for Career Development

Reconsider challenges

Developing a growth mindset requires you to consider challenges as opportunities for self-improvement. To overcome obstacles, try to think positively about the situation through positive affirmations. For example, if you know your day is likely to be busy, you might begin it by reading a few motivational quotes. This can give you the motivation to persevere and stay productive throughout the day.

Related: 9 Personal Development Goals and How to Achieve Them

Reward your growth

Track your career progression and achievements to remind yourself of your ability to improve in the long term. Whenever possible, seek out opportunities to reward yourself for accomplishing your goals and remind yourself of your purpose at work and the value you provide to others. Rather than focus on your mistakes, think about how you might learn from them and use them in your professional development.

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