Fixed Vs. Growth Mindset: What's The Difference?

Growth Mindset

Ready to make your breakthrough? Check out Breakthrough Mastery, a course with our Lead Transformation coach, Jeremy Bellotti, to learn how to get exactly what you want out of life. You can find it here.

We’ve all heard the old adage, “you can’t teach an old dog new tricks…”

Because we’ve heard it so many times, a lot of us have fallen into the trap of believing it for ourselves. You may believe that you’re too old to develop and grow. After all, you’re stuck in your ways and you’re too old to learn…right?


You’re always able to grow and develop different aspects of yourself—from your physical body to your intellect.

That’s right—your intelligence is not a fixed trait that you were born with. Instead, you can grow both your knowledge base and your intellect. 

Research has shown that the human brain is extremely adaptable, regardless of age, and a person is able to learn things pretty deep into their later years. So YOU CAN learn new things—even if you’re older.

But why is it that we believe we are stuck where we are? And what can we do about it?

People who believe they’re helpless have taught themselves that they have no control over their situation. Because of this, they often give up and no longer try. By giving up, they create confirmation bias. They see no results—but they also don’t try very hard to achieve them.

So, people that experience learned helplessness feel like they have no control, and this feeling of a lack of control leads to them never taking action.

 It prevents people from seeing the opportunities that are right in front of them that can create the kind of change that they’ve always wanted but never believed they could create themselves. 

Researcher Carol Dweck explains it through the idea that there are two types of learners: those with a fixed mindset and those with a growth mindset.


Fixed Intelligence Mindset

Growth Mindset

After years of researching students of all ages, Dweck found that many of the students exhibited what she calls a fixed mindset, which is the belief that we’re either born smart or we’re not and that there’s nothing that we can do to change this.

In other words, if someone hears that they aren’t smart over and over again, they come to believe that they aren’t intelligent and there’s nothing they can do to improve themselves. On the flip side, students who are told repeatedly that “they’re so smart” come to believe that they’re intelligent.

However, that type of praise actually backfires.

What Dweck and her team found was that people who were told they were smart over and over again actually became less likely to take on challenges because it would put them at risk of “looking dumb”. So, those who are continuously told they're stupid believe they're stupid and avoid taking on challenges, and those who are continuously told they're smart also avoid taking on challenges because they're already smart.

Those with a fixed mindset typically...

  • Shy away from challenges
  • Give up relatively easily when faced with obstacles
  • Avoid putting in significant amounts of effort
  • Choose not to accept constructive criticism and feedback
  • Feel threatened when those around them experience success

At the root of this problem, according to Dweck, is the self-esteem movement.

If you aren’t aware of the self-esteem movement, it refers to the idea that “everyone is a winner.” This “everyone gets a trophy” mentality ends up shielding kids from the real world—which in the long run is actually worse for them than allowing them to take on challenges, experience failure and grow.

The interesting thing about this is that students who were praised for the process they used to come up with answers, rather than being told they figured out a problem because they were smart, were more likely to seek out new challenges because they were confident that they had the mental capacity to work hard, overcome adversity and solve challenges.

Dweck calls this the growth mindset: the mindset that one can overcome any challenge as long as they put in the time and effort necessary.

And that’s exactly what we want you to adopt because it doesn’t actually matter how old you are – you need to get out of the fixed intelligence mindset and into the growth mindset that helps give you the confidence to take on new challenges even at the risk of failure.

(Note: Ready to make your breakthrough? Check out Breakthrough Mastery, a course with our Lead Transformation coach, Jeremy Bellotti, to learn how to get exactly what you want out of life. You can find it here.)

Growth Mindset

Growth Mindset

People with a growth mindset not only believe, but know, that they always have more to learn and implement. Instead of believing that they were either born smart or born stupid, they believe that they have the power to change themselves, learn and lift themselves up from the situation that they’re in.

They don’t let their ego get in the way of their growth, and they allow their malleability to grow their wealth in ways that people with fixed mindsets simply can’t.

 People with a growth mindset don’t simply jump to the top of their field with an open mind alone, though.

People with a growth mindset typically...

  • Seek out and embrace challenges
  • Persevere in the face of obstacles
  • Think that significant effort is the only way to master something
  • Accept constructive criticism and feedback and use it to improve themselves
  • Look at other people's success and think about what they can learn from it

Take any superstar in the world as an example. I can guarantee that they all have a growth mindset.

Steve Jobs, for example.

While he was certainly intelligent enough to work his way through a college degree, he knew that that wasn't necessarily the path that was going to take him where to go. By dropping out of college, Jobs was seeking out and embracing the challenge of establishing himself without the credentials that so many people said were necessary for success.

Not only was he seeking out a challenge, he had the audacious goal of building something that was new and innovative. He was pushing himself to his limits so much that he ended up getting forced out of his company at one point. Someone in more of a fixed intelligence mindset may have settled for the hand they were dealt.

Instead, Steve Jobs accepted the challenge and continued to push forward with his ideas until Apple had no choice but to take him back.

I know it’s easy to look at someone and think that they are a “natural.” In reality, most of these naturals have put in hours and hours behind closed doors. Even people that are naturally talented at something can easily be surpassed by people that practice and stay open-minded.

Superstars are MADE, not born.

Fixed Vs. Growth Mindset? Is It Too Late To Change?

Growth Mindset

Here’s the thing, though…you aren’t a kid any longer.

Because of the self-esteem movement or a whole host of other factors, you may have developed a fixed intelligence mindset. So, is it too late for you?

Of course not!

You can start changing your mindset TODAY by simply allowing yourself to consider new ways of doing things and putting yourself in challenging positions that you may have avoided in the past. If you're always the smartest person in the room, you aren’t spending time with people that challenge you and force you to think about things in new ways.

You CAN learn new things later in life, but you first need to adopt a GROWTH mindset. You have to believe in change, and you need to get over any learned helplessness that you’ve developed over the years.

 Don’t simply rely on your fixed beliefs about your intellect, your abilities and the way things “should” be done.

Instead, be open to change and growth in order to reach new levels of success!  

(Note: Ready to make your breakthrough? Check out Breakthrough Mastery, a course with our Lead Transformation coach, Jeremy Bellotti, to learn how to get exactly what you want out of life. You can find it here.)