A Tale of the Two Mindsets

„Ugh, another buzzword!” you might be thinking. Well, not quite (also, read here why I don’t believe in buzzwords). A way of life, more like it! Let’s quickly establish what growth mindset is, what it isn’t, and how can it help you become better at eLearning, design thinking, or life in general.



The term growth mindset, in the understanding as it will be presented below, was first introduced by Carol S. Dweck, Stanford professor, and researcher. She focused her field research on trying to determine if changing the way you view mistakes, challenges, or feedback can advance you in life. As a result, she actually found out that this approach can be summarized as a belief you have towards your intelligence and skills, and how you focus said belief on what comes along in your life. I strongly advise you to read the book she wrote about this, titled „Mindset: The New Psychology of Success” to get more psychological explanation and support in the area of a growth mindset. She tested her theories, expressed in her book, in multiple real-life and research situations, and below is a summary of her findings (left is a short intro, and right is Dweck’s speech, where she presents the story of two mindsets).



After doing lots of research with kids, dr Dweck noticed a connection between how the kids looked at their skills and learning, and how the kids were praised or reprimanded, and how they worked on their talents and skills. She noticed that there were two main approaches to the topic of skills:


  • Some kids were hungry for new skills and knowledge, they were ready to try new things and grow – kids with a growth mindset.
  • Other kids believed what they produced was the extent of their talents and skills and didn’t want to devote any time to learning – kids with a fixed mindset.


Those two thinking modes could be either strengthened or lowered by the way the kids were approached. Simply saying „you’re so smart” encouraged the kids to think that they didn’t have to work to be better because they are already smart. That, in turn, had a negative effect when the real world confronted them with others who performed better – this made the fixed mindset kids retreat, avoid confrontation and feedback, as they felt more like failures.
Contrary, saying „I see you put a lot of work into it” put focus on the work done, not the skills or talent, and encouraged learning to extend the skills. The growth mindset kids were ready to accept and learn from failures and use them for inspiration to gain new levels of skills.

This short description, alongside the speeches by dr Carol Dweck herself, paint a pretty good picture of the differences between the two mindsets, and present benefits coming from adopting a growth mindset. Remember though, that we have different days and different capabilities and our lives are a mixture of booth mindsets. The trick is to reset yourself, regroup your thoughts, and attack the failures with a new strength every time!



The below is a series of videos made by Trevor Ragan, a certified coach (Coaching Association of Canada) and speaker with (a very nice, informative, and pleasing) YouTube channel. I can’t praise them enough. The above explanation is pretty good in a nutshell, and to get you pumped about the subject, but Trevor’s videos are just extra level of info, advice, and guidance. Please, please watch them!