Which of the following statements do you agree with:

  1. A person’s intelligence and talents are set from birth (“I am what I am,” as Popeye would say)
  2. A person’s intelligence and talents can be developed (“I can learn and do better”)

The first is an example of a “fixed mindset.” The second is an example of a “growth mindset.” Whichever belief a person is operating from (whether consciously or not) will influence how they approach tasks and challenges in everyday life.

For example, a person operating from a “fixed” mindset, believes that there is nothing they can do to improve their intelligence and therefore will often easily give up on challenging tasks. For example, a child faced with a difficult math assignment might say, “I’ll never be good at this,” and not try.

Alternatively, a person who operates from a “growth” mindset believes that intelligence can be developed through experience and practice and therefore approaches this same situation differently. A child with a “growth” mindset will look at a difficult math assignment and embrace the challenge.  

The concept of growth vs. fixed mindset was developed by Carol Dweck. By listening to the language your child uses (or how you speak to yourself!), you can find clues to whether you or your child are operating from a fixed or growth mindset.

A fixed mindset can result in people lacking self-confidence, self-sabotaging, avoiding opportunities and experiencing depression. Making the shift from a fixed to a growth mindset can be a simple change in the language we use. I recently shared some suggested tweaks to our phrasing to help shift our children (and ourselves) from a fixed to a growth mindset. Click here to check out my Instagram post