Fixed vs. Growth Mindset

An amazing psychologist by the name of Dr. Carol Dweck developed the concepts of fixed mindset and growth mindset and has shown how these belief systems can affect our behaviors and ultimately the way our lives unfold.

A fixed mindset is one that believes our intelligence, character, and abilities are just that; fixed, static given values that can’t be changed. This mindset sees success as affirmation of your given skills. Through a fixed mindset we learn to fear failure as failure only shows our shortcomings in our given values. To this mindset failure is finite and therefore those with a fixed mindset focus most on their “score” or “grade” and how they are judged. Those with this mindset avoid challenge and see effort as a sign of low capability and when struck with struggle or failure they choose to withdraw never being able to achieve their full potential.

A growth mindset in one that believes our skills and intelligence are qualities that can be cultivated. Those with this mindset embrace challenge as they view failure as an opportunity to be able to finally stretch and cultivate their capabilities. Effort, especially to overcome setbacks, in the eyes of this mindset is seen as a sign of growth. This mindset is ultimately what leads to the development of characteristics like resilience, focus, and grit which are vital is the pursuit of achievement.

Now the beauty of the growth mindset is that even if you are not predisposed to having one, it can be created. By praising the strategies used and the effort instead of the outcomes we can begin to empower those with fixed mindsets to strive for challenges.

Remember a fixed mindset sees failure as failure, while a growth mindset sees failure as an opportunity to learn. It is not easy to maintain a state of growth mindset so when you see yourself beginning to speak with your inner fixed mindset remember to answer it with the voice of your inner growth mindset using words like “not yet.” As a CrossFit athlete you can think of developing your growth mindset as part of your training and every time you start to slip towards a fixed mindset, whether it is in the gym or another aspect of life, and you’re able to correct course, count it as a rep. I challenge you to see how many you can get in a day.

Below is a fantastic video of Dr. Dweck further explaining her concepts: