Dweck's Growth Mindset for Individuals

Four Stages of Competence
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Chloe Xu
Director, Australia

Dweck's Growth Mindset for Individuals

Psychologist Carol Dweck developed the concept of "growth mindset" and popularised it in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. After that, the "growth mindset" has become a buzzword in the corporate world, even working its way into many big organisations' mission statements.


Dweck's work identified that people have 2 opposite types of mindset on talents and intelligence: fixed and growth. In a fixed mindset, people think their basic qualities are innate gifts. Whereas in a growth mindset, people believe their capabilities can be developed through arduous work, excellent strategies, and helps from others.

Fixed vs Growth Mindsets

When confronted with failure, people with a fixed mindset will convince themselves that they cannot do it or make excuses to rationalise their failure. They want to look smart and not look dumb to others, and that often makes them lose the opportunities of learning. Alternatively, people embracing a growth mindset worry less about looking smart, spend more time and energy on learning, and consequently achieve more than the fixed-mindset people.


  • A pure growth mindset does not exist, and everyone has a mixture of growth and fixed mindsets. Events such as challenges, criticism, or unjust treatments can trigger our fixed mindsets. To embrace a growth mindset, we need to recognise when and why our fixed-mindset "persona" shows up and persuade it to collaborate with us.
  • Growth mindsets must be combined with productive efforts to achieving outcomes. These endeavours include seeking input from others, using new strategies, and capitalising on setbacks to move forward.
  • Organisations that want to cultivate growth mindsets should take actions. They must encourage risk-taking, reward important lessons learnt, support internal collaboration rather than internal competition, and reinforce the values by having concrete policies in place.
Developing a growth mindset is a journey of challenges and setbacks. But with practice, we can learn to recognise our fixed mindset and shift our thinking back toward growth and learning.

Dweck, C. (2007). Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Ballantine Books.
Dweck, C. (2019). What Having a "Growth Mindset" Actually Means. HBR, Winter 2019, 26-27.


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