If people in a fixed mindset believe their qualities are fixed, and they have shown themselves to be smart or talented, why do they have to keep proving it? After all, when the prince proved his bravery, he and the princess lived happily ever after. He didn’t have to go out and slay a dragon every day. Why don’t people with the fixed mindset prove themselves and then live happily ever after?

Because every day new and larger dragons come along and, as things get harder, maybe the ability they proved yesterday is not up to today’s task. Maybe they were smart enough for algebra but not calculus. Maybe they were a good enough pitcher for the minor leagues but not the majors. Maybe they were a good enough writer for their school newspaper but not the New York Times.

So they’re racing to prove themselves over and over, but where are they going? To me they’re often running in place, amassing countless affirmations, but not necessarily ending up where they want to be.

 Are mindsets a permanent part of your make-up or can you change them?

Mindsets are an important part of your personality, but you can change them. Just by knowing about the two mindsets, you can start thinking and reacting in new ways. People tell me they start to catch themselves when they are in the throes of the fixed mindset—passing up a chance for learning, feeling labeled by a failure, or getting discouraged when something requires a lot of effort. And then they switch themselves into the growth mindset—making sure they take the challenge, learn from the failure, or continue their effort.

 Can I be half and half? I recognize both mindsets in myself

Many people have elements of both. I’m talking about it as a simple either/or for the sake of simplicity. People can also have different mindsets in different areas. I can think that my artistic skills are fixed but that my intelligence can be developed. Or that my personality is fixed, but my creativity can be developed. We’ve found that whatever mindset people have in a particular area will guide them in that area.

 You keep talking about how the growth mindset makes people #1, the best, the most successful. Isn’t the growth mindset about personal development, not besting others?

I use examples of people who made it to the top to show how far the growth mindset can take you: Believing talents can be developed allows people to fulfill their potential.

In addition, examples of laid back people having a good time would not be as convincing to people with a fixed mindset. It doesn’t provide a compelling alternative for them because it makes it look like a choice between fun and excellence.

However, this point is crucial: the growth mindset does allow people to love what they’re doing—and to continue to love it in the face of difficulties. The growth-minded athletes, CEOs, musicians, or scientists all loved what they did, whereas many of the fixed-minded ones did not.

 What if I like my fixed mindset? If I know what my abilities and talents are, I know where I stand and I know what to expect. Why should I give that up?

If you like it, by all means keep it. This book shows people they have a choice by spelling out the two mindsets and the worlds they create. The point is that people can choose which world they want to inhabit.

The fixed mindset creates the feeling that you can really know the permanent truth about yourself. And this can be comforting: You don’t have to try for such-and-such because you don’t have the talent. You will surely succeed at thus-and-such because you do have the talent.

It’s just important to be aware of the drawbacks of this mindset. You may be robbing yourself of an opportunity by underestimating your talent in the first area. Or you may be undermining your chances of success in the second area by assuming that your talent alone will take you there.

 Are people with the fixed mindset simply lacking in confidence?

No. People with the fixed mindset have just as much confidence as people with the growth mindset—before anything happens, that is. But, as you can imagine, their confidence is more fragile since setbacks and even effort can make them worry that they don’t have the talent or ability.

 How can I help my children or students cultivate a growth mindset?

Praising their process is critical.  You can read about how to use praise in this website and the book.  You can also have your children use the   Brainology® online program, which we developed to help students cultivate a growth mindset.