8 unmistakable signs you have a growth mindset (and why it’s a good thing)

If there is one attitude that everyone needs to adopt on their journey to success, it’s that they can become better in many different areas of life with time and effort.

It sounds simple, but the effects of believing this are profound.

The belief that you’re able to improve yourself with hard work, rather than have fixed talent and ability, is what psychologist Carol Dweck calls “the growth mindset”.

According to Dweck in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, there are two basic types of people in this world, those with a fixed mindset and those with a growth mindset.

The category that you fall into can have drastic effects on the course of success you will experience in your life.

“When people are in a fixed mindset they believe their basic qualities, their talents, abilities, intelligence are just fixed traits, they have a certain amount and that’s it. When they’re in this mindset they often become concerned with how much they have. “If I do this will I look smart? Will I feel smart? Will people think I’m talented or not?”

“When people are in a growth mindset, they look at their talent and abilities as things that can be developed through hard work, good strategies, or help and input from others. They’re more willing to jump in, take a challenge, and roll with the punches because they’re not seeing everything as reflecting on their deep permanent ability.”

The growth mindset is one of the most important predictors of success in life.

The question is: What type of person are you? Do you have a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?

Let’s find out! 

Here are 8 signs you have a growth mindset:

1. Failure doesn’t stop you

One of the most obvious signs that someone has a growth mindset is that failure doesn’t stop them.

They treat failure as information for how to improve, rather than a measure of their own worth.

They don’t see failure as final, but rather a necessary part of the process.

According to Carol Dweck, this is because people with a growth mindset view adversity more optimistically than people with a fixed mindset:

“A fixed mindset about ability leads to pessimistic explanations of adversity, and that, in turn, leads to both giving up on challenges and avoiding them in the first place. In contrast, a growth mindset leads to optimistic ways of explaining adversity, and that, in turn, leads to perseverance and seeking out new challenges that will ultimately make you even stronger.”

So if you can say that you have a growth mindset if you actively try new things and fail — without falling into the trap of giving up too quickly or blaming the world for not being fair.

2. You always give your best effort

One trap many of us fall into is looking solely at the outcome, and not at the process.

We think we’re successful if we get a good grade or find a high-level job, and we label ourselves as failures if we don’t get what we want.

But people with a growth mindset don’t judge themselves on the results, they only judge themselves on their effort.

After all, that is the only thing that is within our control. 

According to Dweck, if you always give your best effort, then you likely have a growth mindset:

“He didn’t ask for mistake-free games. He didn’t demand that his players never lose. He asked for full preparation and full effort from them. “Did I win? Did I lose? Those are the wrong questions. The correct question is: Did I make my best effort?” If so, he says, “You may be outscored but you will never lose.” – Carol Dweck, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success

3. You have grit

Grit is what enables you to persevere in pursuit of long-term goals.

People with a growth mindset understand that genuine progress takes time, and it is only through improving slowly every single day that you will eventually achieve your goals. 

Those with a fixed mindset easily give up in their pursuit of achieving long-term goals and instead give in to the temptation of shortcuts to immediate results.

According to psychologist Angela Lee Duckworth, grit is a more significant predictor of success than good looks, social intelligence, or I.Q: 

“One characteristic emerged as a significant predictor of success. And it wasn’t social intelligence. It wasn’t good looks, physical health, and it wasn’t I.Q. It was grit. Grit is passion and perseverance for very long-term goals. Grit is having stamina. Grit is sticking with your future, day in, day out, not just for the week, not just for the month, but for years, and working really hard to make that future a reality. Grit is living life like it’s a marathon, not a sprint.” – Angela Lee Duckworth

So if you treat life like a marathon, rather than a sprint, then you can probably say that you have a growth mindset. 

4. You’re comfortable stretching yourself

If you have a growth mindset, you are more likely to embrace opportunities to stretch yourself.

You’re comfortable with trying new things and testing your limits, even if it means failing.

Furthermore, this is something you can do over and over again because failure doesn’t stop you. 

Carol Dweck explains it best:

“Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.”

5. You welcome change

It’s difficult to embrace change. As humans, we like to be comfortable and stick to what we know.

But people with a growth mindset appreciate the power change has to make them better.

According to Dweck, people with a growth mindset will see change as an opportunity to improve and learn. 

Furthermore, welcoming change displays true confidence because it shows that you believe in your own ability to deal with changes.

“True self-confidence is “the courage to be open—to welcome change and new ideas regardless of their source.” Real self-confidence is not reflected in a title, an expensive suit, a fancy car, or a series of acquisitions. It is reflected in your mindset: your readiness to grow.” – Carol Dweck

6. You focus on the journey, rather than the outcome

People with a growth mindset understand that the process of learning and growing is just as important as the final destination.

They recognize that setbacks and failures are simply opportunities for growth, and they use them as opportunities to learn and improve rather than letting them hold them back.

On the other hand, people with a fixed mindset tend to focus on the end result because they believe that their worth and success are determined by their achievements and abilities.

Not only does this lead them to compare their achievements to others, but they’re more likely to give up in the face of challenges rather seeing them as opportunities for growth. 

People with a growth mindset see the challenges themselves as meaningful, which makes them preserve and continue. 

“In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail—or if you’re not the best—it’s all been wasted. The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome . They’re tackling problems, charting new courses, working on important issues. Maybe they haven’t found the cure for cancer, but the search was deeply meaningful.” – Carol Dweck

7. You still take action, even when you’re not confident

It’s easy to give up when you’re not good at something. After all, it isn’t particularly fun and all it does it make you feel bad about yourself. 

But in contrast, according to Dweck, people with a growth mindset are more likely to try something when they’re not good at it:

“Remarkable thing I’ve learned from my research is that in the growth mindset, you don’t always need confidence. What I mean is that even when you think you’re not good at something, you can still plunge into it wholeheartedly and stick to it. Actually, sometimes you plunge into something because you’re not good at it.”

So if you’re not afraid of trying new things, and even thrive on being bad at something, you’ve probably got a growth mindset. 

8. You feel in control of your destiny

Being a victim and blaming others gets you nowhere in life.

Being able to accept that you are responsible for everything in your life and that nobody is to blame but yourself makes you a strong individual.

It takes courage to be able to look in the mirror and accept your faults and mistakes, but if you can accept these truths, then there will be no stopping your success.

According to Duckworth, taking ownership of your life and believing you can take action to get better each and every day is a hallmark of a growth mindset:

“Grit depends on a different kind of hope. It rests on the expectation that our own efforts can improve our future. “I have a feeling tomorrow will be better” is different from “I resolve to make tomorrow better.” – Angela Lee Duckworth



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Lachlan Brown

I’m Lachlan Brown, the founder, and editor of Hack Spirit. I love writing practical articles that help others live a mindful and better life. I have a graduate degree in Psychology and I’ve spent the last 15 years reading and studying all I can about human psychology and practical ways to hack our mindsets. Check out my latest book on the Hidden Secrets of Buddhism and How it Saved My Life. If you want to get in touch with me, hit me up on Facebook or Twitter.

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