Growth or Fixed: Your Mindset Matters Most


Kayla Kost

Success is often determined from mindset.

Floridei Jovel, Staff Writer

“I don’t want to embarrass myself with something I don’t feel confident in. They’ll make remarks or I’ll never live it down” If you have had a similar experience to this or have had similar thoughts, chances are you may have a fixed mindset, and in order to overcome this feeling, you have to go from a fixed to a growth mindset.

A fixed mindset is one in which you limit yourself to holding fixed traits that aren’t developed, such as your intelligence or your talent in other areas. With this mindset, you often believe that you can’t develop your intelligence or be a bookworm naturally. This mindset might look like this: you received constructive criticism from your teacher in the essay that you wrote about the events that formed you to be the person you are now. Frustrated you think, “This is the best I can do. What else do they expect from me? There’s nothing to improve on.” Instead of taking in this feedback and figuring out how you could improve your essay, you instead take it personally and lose interest quickly.

A growth mindset is knowing that developing your basic abilities can be done through dedication, patience, and effort. You’re aware that it doesn’t happen overnight and that results take time to show. You also know that you will be frustrated because it isn’t a few times. An example of this is if you want to make your desired coffee from coffee beans. It takes trial and error to find that same blend and taste. It can get frustrating and you would want to give up and keep using grind coffee, but you instead keep going, find the perfect blend, and quickly jot down the recipe!

Let’s bring up another example of a growth mindset: you want to join the swim team but you only swim for pleasure and never took part in competitive sports. It’s obvious that you won’t be able to do four laps back and forth for an entire week straight without feeling sore until the next day. You understand that in order to improve your endurance for each lap you do, it takes practice and pushing yourself over time. One day you’ll do 2 laps, the next day 3. You also realize that stretching before and after your workout can help with sore limbs. You figured out two things here: you want to improve your stamina and figure out your body and what it’ll need.

Now, why is this important? Well, this can affect your view of success and how you handle situations your encounter throughout your life. For example, you just opened a cafe and you have no business experience whatsoever. Over some time, it fails and you have to close it down. Instead of saying “I’m not going to waste money on another business where it’ll fail,” you can take into consideration what you already learned from your experience. Figure out first where and what went wrong instead of giving up. Ask yourself: Was it the area? Was it the environment or the staff? Was it the hygiene of the establishment or the decor itself? Someone who asks these questions has a growth mindset.

Research suggests we learn our mindsets from our experiences. In an article published by the Child Development and Family Center, teacher Sherie Newman discusses how the way we view, value, and treat children affects how much they learn from us. At an early age, our self-esteem is formed. Self-esteem is an important factor when it comes to figuring out which mindset you could have and how to turn it around from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.

Our parents also have a huge impact on us as individuals. Having parents that respect boundaries, take into account their mistakes, and not dismiss your feelings can raise your self-esteem and how you think about others.

However, having parents that do the complete opposite and ridicule you for doing mistakes or think that yelling or manipulating your emotions and revolving the conversation around them to get a point across can actually damage that self-esteem. You think and start to put others before yourself and please them to prevent any negative behavior from them.

Now to clarify any confusion; this does not entirely mean that if you have fixed-minded parents that you yourself will have a fixed mindset or if you have growth-minded parents that you will inevitably have a growth mindset. You can have parents that have a fixed mindset while you have a growth mindset or are aware that you don’t want to have the same thought process or lack of motivation to develop talents or traits. You could have parents that encourage you to be risky and see where you’re interested in and you can just say ‘Well, I don’t want to embarrass myself because I don’t think I even qualify for it. Everyone is different and that’s alright.

There are contributing factors that can lead to having a fixed mindset and as we take time to analyze and see where the missing buttons are; you’ll even find ways to have a growing growth mindset as you’ll understand that giving things a try won’t be embarrassing or terrifying.

School is a place of learning and having trust with teachers and we even have our favorites as we feel that we can relate to them.

As mentioned earlier, Teachers are just right underneath our parents when it comes to self-esteem and getting praised for work. But sure enough, the wrong attitude can affect you and has been proven through a series of studies such as Classroom Identification in Ethnic Minority and Majority Students: Effects of Relationships and Ethnic Composition” and “Teacher Effect on Student Achievement”.

Both studies show how our school environment can affect students, especially their self-esteem. Teachers themselves can also have a fixed or growth mindset and can have its effect on students in an educational environment especially if they’re in the minority.

When teachers discriminate, ostracize, mentally exhaust, or even miscommunicate with students, students can develop a fixed mindset. Without positive reassurances, students can lose their motivation, confidence, and even their need to voice their opinion, oftentimes leading to disruptive and disrespectful behavior.

If respect isn’t given to another, it won’t be given back, regardless of position or role; however, those with a growth mindset are aware that respect is mutually given and don’t judge instantly. Meanwhile, those with a fixed mindset may believe that respect should be given because of position, regardless of how disrespectful they are.

So, how can we have a growth mindset without feeling anxious or doubtful of ourselves? No one is perfect, but we have to be realistic with ourselves on the outcome that’ll occur. Taking things into consideration such as “Let me give this a try if I don’t succeed the first time, I’ll do it again” or “I’m going to study for 5 minutes today, and tomorrow I’ll study for 10 minutes”

At the end of the day, it’s you who makes that difference within yourself as a human being. Try to seek your own approval instead of relying on others. By doing yourself that favor, you start to see how much you can change your environment.

Going from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset takes time to do, and you can’t beat yourself over it, everyone at one point has gone through this. Remember, it takes dedication, just like all good things in life.