The words “growth mindset” (and its counterpart, “fixed mindset”) are big buzzwords nowadays.
And for good reason — people with this mindset tend to be much more successful and happier in life.
So you may have asked yourself how you can cultivate more of a growth mindset yourself.
First, it’s a great idea to look at any behaviors you’re doing that hold you back. So here are 11 things people with a growth mindset never do.
1) Give up because they’re not good at something
If you’re a human, there are surely many things you are good at, and probably just as many things you’re bad at.
What do you do with the bad things? Do you avoid doing them whenever possible, even if you secretly wish you could be good at them?
Or do you welcome opportunities to try to learn and grow in those skills?
If it’s the second option, you have a growth mindset.
Of course, you don’t need to work on every little thing you’re not particularly talented at. I’m not really good at doing makeup, but I also don’t have much of an interest of being good at it.
Spending hours practicing something you don’t care much about would be a waste of time. But if there’s something that interests you, don’t give up just because you’re not good at it — *yet*.
2) Worry about making mistakes
The opposite of a growth mindset is a fixed mindset — this means you believe that your talents and skills are fixed, and there’s nothing you can do to get better.
People with this mindset tend to be scared of making mistakes, because the mistakes are like black points on a permanent record. They would “brand” them as untalented or unskilled.
If you adopt a growth mindset, you allow yourself to break free of this mental prison.
Because now, mistakes are something you can always overcome, and use to grow.
That’s why people with a growth mindset never worry about being perfect or looking smart.
I used to be quite scared of making mistakes, and felt super nervous before performance reviews at work.
But as I developed a growth mindset, I started actually looking forward to getting feedback, even if it should be negative. I learned to see it as an opportunity to improve.
3) Cheat and deceive to gain an advantage
This point is closely tied to the one above. If you have a fixed mindset and believe that mistakes define you for life, you might do anything possible to avoid them.
Even unethical things such as lie or cheat.
This may also happen if someone believes they can’t get somewhere through hard work. If you cannot get a promotion, an award, or any other benefit thanks to effort, the only choice you have left is to take a shortcut, right?
Thankfully, a growth mindset saves you from going down this path full of bad karma.
If you want something, you can always achieve it as long as you persevere.
4) Avoid something challenging
What kind of subjects did you take at school? What kind of job offers did you apply for? And what kind of hobbies did you try your hand at?
People with a growth mindset never stick to just easy things — they love challenges. So if you went for something even if it felt a little over your head, you can count yourself as part of this admirable group.
Doing sports is a great way to put this into practice. If you take it seriously, there is always another milestone to reach.
For example, you can beat your time in running, increase your shot accuracy in soccer, or land a more difficult jump in figure skating. The fact that you work towards it means you must believe you can improve your skills.
I spent years doing competitive figure skating as a child, and I believe this set an important foundation for cultivating a growth mindset in me.
5) Have low expectations of others
This sign is something you might see most obviously in teachers or managers.
When a person has a fixed mindset, they usually apply this to not just themselves, but others as well. It’s not just that “I can never get better at something” — nobody else can either.
Therefore, if they see a student or an employee struggling with something, they may not see a point in trying to help them. Why give support or attention to people who can’t improve anyways?
Obviously, this is a very bad approach, and can discourage many people from pursuing things they’d otherwise love.
That’s why it’s especially important for people with authority over others to have a growth mindset and encourage their team to grow.
6) Dismiss feedback right off the bat
We’ve all gotten feedback we disagree with at some point.
And you might be totally right. Feedback can be inaccurate, uncalled for, biased, or the person could be having a really bad day.
But do you at least pause to consider the feedback before dismissing it?
People with a growth mindset never dismiss feedback without evaluating it first. Otherwise, how would they know that it’s truly unhelpful?
Sure, getting criticism can sting a little. But ignoring it would be throwing out a valuable opportunity to improve.
7) Compare themselves to others
Honestly, I find this sign a little mixed.
On one hand, people with a growth mindset never compare themselves with others obsessively. The most important thing to them is how their own performance today compares to their performance in the past.
There is nobody you need to compare yourself to other than yourself.
But on the other hand, it can be incredibly useful to look at what others are doing. We can discover better techniques and strategies, learn from their mistakes, and get fresh inspiration and ideas.
So, the real point here is the intention with which you compare yourself to anyone. If you want to cultivate a growth mindset, make sure you don’t do it just to feel superior or inferior.
8) Label themselves or other people
Labels are very helpful in the supermarket — but people with a growth mindset never apply them to people.
These are things like calling someone “lazy” or “untalented” after a single mistake. If you label people like this, you reinforce the idea that they’re always like this and cannot change.
This is different from understanding a person’s typical behavior – you might notice, for example, that one of your friends tends to have many great ideas, and therefore think of her as creative.
Or that another friend is always at least half an hour late, and therefore not punctual.
However, we must always remember that people grow and change, and give them the opportunity to do so.
9) Resist change
How do you feel about unexpected change?
Do you think about it with fear, not sure if you’ll be able to cope with it?
Or do you look forward to it with courage and excitement, knowing that you can always adapt to whatever may come?
By this point, you’ll easily be able to tell which one is the growth mindset.
Change itself may not always be positive, obviously. Sometimes it brings us problems, setbacks, or losses.
But even in these situations, you’ll have a much better time going through life if you learn to accept things you cannot control, and look for ways you can thrive in the new circumstances.
10) Stop working on things they’re already good at
If you ever hear someone say, “I don’t need to work at this anymore, because I know everything already,” you can be sure you’re dealing with a fixed mindset person.
You see, even when you reach an extremely high level, there is always, ALWAYS room for improvement.
Albert Einstein once said “The day you stop learning is the day you start dying.”
While this is rather drastic, he has a very good point. The growth mindset sees infinite potential to get better, no matter how high up on the ladder you already are.
If you stop trying to climb, you’ll find yourself slowly slipping back down.
11) Feel jealous of other people’s success
Finally, people with a growth mindset never envy other people’s success.
If you do, it points to a certain thought process that you might not even be aware of. “Other people are successful, and I’m not — and I never will be — therefore I am forever and ever beneath them.”
Naturally this isn’t a very pleasant belief to live with!
But thankfully, you can change it by adopting a growth mindset. With this framework, you can stop feeling threatened by people’s success and instead be inspired by it.
The world is a better place if it is full of people who are positive and living good lives. And these are the same people who can help you grow, too.
You’ve just read 11 things people with a growth mindset never do.
Did you recognize any of these behaviors in yourself?
If you did, that’s great! You’ve taken the first and perhaps most important step to improving your mindset — recognizing things to improve.
Remember that the growth mindset teaches us that we can get better at anything — including cultivating the growth mindset.