Welcome to Influence, Psychology and Persuasion

This is session number 014 of Influence Psychology and Persuasion. This show/page is something that has been showing up lots over the last few months. It seems that people all over are all talking about Fixed and Growth mindset. But what’s the deal, why now, and is this important? Well, I hope you’ll find out here.

Definition of Fixed and Growth Mindsets

First and foremost, it’s important to understand that this topic of fixed and growth mindset stems from lots of studies carried out by Prof of psychology from Stanford University Dr Carol Dweck. I’m merely relaying my learnings from this and how I can, and others around me have applied some of these findings.

A person is said to have a fixed mindset if they believe that their intelligence, talents and behaviours are mostly fixed. However, growth mindset people understand that they can nurture their talents and abilities through hard work, persistent, right practice, good teachings and again more practice.

Think about the implications of that just one moment! At the very core, a person with a growth mindset and attitude believes that they can achieve and do anything they want if they put their mind to it. On the contrary, a fixed mindset person would view people who are talented, as potentially lucky or even born with the gift. Of course, there are exceptions. Physical limitations may hinder you in certain aspects. If you are genetically a very small person then perhaps setting your sights on being the next Mr Universe may be out of your reach. Basketball players tend to be 6.5 foot +. But, there are plenty of  5.7-foot players who have crafted their talent to become a force to be reckoned with on the court.

Talent and natural abilities are traits people have when they apply to practice and tenacity. In his book Bounce, Matthew Syed demonstrates at length so many examples of extreme talent and ability that all come down. Practice, belief, and repetition. There is an obvious caveat here which most of us can overlook when it comes to practice. Practice needs to have feedback at all times otherwise you’re simply repeating a process that you don’t know to be correct. One of the examples given within the book talks about a person who is learning to play golf, and they are hitting golf balls in the dark. Of course, they don’t know where the going, so how are they able to adjust. Practice with feedback is absolutely essential to create talent in any area.

Growth and Fixed Mindsets Web

Feedback and Direction

Another trait of a growth mindset person would be their ability to accept feedback and direction. A person with a growth mindset would understand that without this third-party input it’s very difficult to find out what works, and what doesn’t. The converse is obviously true also. A fixed mindset person would not want to hear feedback as they would take this as criticism rather than another way to view the result or action.

Growth Mindset Praise for Children

Whenever praising a person or even a child with whom you’d like to develop a growth mindset, ensure that the praise is around effort and hard work and not simply being smart or good at it. “What a fantastic project you’ve done, you’ve worked so hard on that it’s brilliant” vs “Wow what a fantastic project you’ve done your so lucky you are this clever”!  Can you see the difference? There has been so much work on the effects of praise. This is a great article which demonstrates the negative effects with just one line of praise.

Am I stuck with the mindset I was born with?

The answer you’re probably going love. No… you’re not! Our mindset is entangled with our belief system and thankfully even though most of our actions and behaviours are operated by our subconscious belief system. A belief can be changed. And there are a couple of ways to do this.

  •  Education and information
  •  Desire to change
  •  An awareness of this model

Let me break these three examples down to you to make shifting your mindset seem more simple than perhaps it should be.

Education and Information

The reason why the top of the list is education and information is that information will directly affect your behaviour and belief system. I mentioned earlier in the post about Matthew Syed and his book Bounce the myth of talent and the power of practice. 

Matthew gives tens of examples of how applied practice creates seemingly insurmountable talent. It wasn’t until I read this book, or in fact heard the audio that my mindset shifted. I would consider myself to be a growth-minded person, yet I wouldn’t have considered myself a person who believed that I could have achieved anything. It was a real eye-opener to me to learn that applied practised as a youngster would have transformed my life.

David Beckham – Super Talent?

A few quick examples of this: David Beckham spending several hours every evening as a young boy with a football in the back garden after school. His mother watching through the window, as he failed repeatedly time after time after time. She saw the effort that was put in, and more amazingly, she didn’t really see what he had achieved in the early days as natural talent. All that was documented in her mind were the hours David spent in the garden kicking a ball. Most of the time, badly. Seeing David fail over and over again was wired in her mind.

Andre Agassi’s dad was his coach during the very early days. At that time they decided that if Andre was able to hit 1 million balls per year, then he could be the very best player in the world. Their reason for believing this was an example of growth mindset thinking. Lots of practice with lots of feedback and iterations creates results. Over 2700 balls hit every single day took Andre Agassi to fame. This is applied practice at work. Or, should a say. This is a person working at applying the perfect practice.

There are so many examples of this throughout the book, but the point really is. Until I had that education and information on what was possible, my mindset perhaps wouldn’t have shifted. Now you know this to be true also. What do you now think is possible?

A Desire to Change

A desire to change is essential. You’ve got to really want this. All of you has to want this. And what do I mean by “all of you?” You know that voice inside that chirps in at times. You need to have that on board too. There is a method to this you’ll be pleased to know. If there is an area of your life you’d like to create change in, then you need to state, believe and also take action.

Let’s assume you’re listening to this post via podcast on audio because “you’re not a great reader”!  for example. Then, sure enough, you will continue to listen to the audio is without attempting to learn to read well. So the way you get around this is by getting your internal voice on your side. Let me give you an example of an internal dialogue that works. “Up until this point, I’d always shy away from reading content, but I know that practice day by day, will allow me to become faster, more proficient and I’ll enjoy it more!”

With an internal dialogue like this, those voices on your shoulders can’t really dismiss what you’re saying. Therefore you can allow that belief system to grow without that nagging, niggling voice in your head. There is some more magic to add to this though. If there is ever a point where you find yourself saying “I still can’t read faster and more proficient” simply add the words YET to the end to imply possibility.


Lastly, I’ve added in being aware of this model. All I really mean by this is looking at your behaviours, actions and beliefs through this looking glass. It may give you more insight to how you’ve been running your life and perhaps even, what’s been holding you back.

  •  “It’s difficult for me to lose weight”
  •  “I’ve never been a numbers person”
  •  “I’m just not musical”
  •  “I can never get things done on time”

That will become what’s real for you. An understanding of a new model, a new way, can allow you to make a change and shift your choice of language and beliefs.

The Takeaways to Create a Growth Mindset

  • Embrace challenges. Challenges are something you initially find difficult. This means you’re about to learn and discover something new.
  • Be persistent when you’re faced with setbacks and even failures. Sometimes you win and sometimes you learn, either way, being persistent gives you what you need.
  • Effort and tenacity are your paths to mastering a growth mindset.
  • Learn from criticisms. Be careful not to just accept them all verbatim but certainly, look at adopting an understanding of what’s being said.
  • Find inspiration from others that have succeeded where you want to. Finding out their path will break down some old self-limiting beliefs to what’s possible and what’s necessary to achieve.
  • There’s no such thing as an overnight success.