Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset


Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset

Posted by: Jordan Collins l Director of Marketing & Communications


Anyone can have a bad day. It is a fact of life that things won’t always go your way. What defines many players, coaches, and people is how they respond to adversity. Each day we chase growth in many areas of our lives but how often can we clearly define what needs to be done? Below are some concepts from Carol Dweck, the Lewis and Virginia Eaton Professor of Psychology at Stanford University Dweck has done extensive research into the mindsets behind growth and fixed perspective. For more information on her research be sure to check out her book or Ted Talk.


Challenges are a fact of life. Trying to avoid challenges can be a challenge in and of itself because challenges are an inevitability. A key catalyst in growth is accepting your challenges. That means spending the time, effort, and energy to get to where you want to go. For an individual to accomplish a goal, they must first accept a challenge. Growth requires you to accept that things will not be easy and you will have to develop yourself to complete your task. Once you start to embrace challenges as growth opportunities you will no longer feel threatened by change. You will seek out these changes and be encouraged by the progress you can see in your sport and your self.


Adolescents receive praise constantly to reinforce positive behavior and to encourage development. At some point in time, this can and will turn into critique. Anything that you create or do can be judged on some empirical level. For some this means doing nothing as to avoid any form of criticism. While the person in question may think that they are saving themselves embarrassment, they are really creating a bubble. A bubble that does not desire connection and growth for their work will not produce quality. No matter where you go in life there will be people weighing in on what you do. The sooner that you can take this into account and disassociate their criticisms of something you’ve made or done and yourself the better off you will be. Good habits require an uncomfortable transition from where you are to where you want to go; a challenge. If you are just getting started with critique, find someone you consider a friend or an expert and ask for feedback. Often it will open your eyes to insights that will push your growth much faster than you could’ve achieved on your own.


When it comes to talent and intelligence development sometimes feels very existential. There’s a constant struggle between romanticizing talent and emphasizing hard work. We have all heard the quote “hard work beats talent when talent doesn’t work hard” but how often does this actually occur? People have debated the center point between these two areas for a long time in sports. The key here is that it isn’t about being the best, it’s about being YOUR best. When you are truly focused on your own growth you don’t see another’s talent as something you don’t have, you see it as a stage that you would like to achieve.


Effort is instrumental to the growth process in that growth cannot be achieved without effort. Low effort will give you a low yield of results and the whole point of taking on a challenge is to see quality results. Putting in the work doesn’t just mean putting in the hours, it means putting in focused work with clear objectives.

Dedication & Setbacks

Once you accept the call to adventure it won’t be a cake walk. There are going to be a lot of things standing in your way that aren’t as fun or as glamorous as they make it look in a movie montage. We have all seen the Rocky montage ending with him, arms extended at the top of the steps. They may be able to condense his growth process into a 3-4 minute segment but life isn’t a movie. There will be days where you won’t want to do what it is that you need to do. Having a clear understanding of why you want to accomplish your goal will help you on these days. This doesn’t mean that you won’t have missteps or bad days but it does mean that you don’t give up!


Discipline is all about creating rules and structures to keep your growth on track. How can you structure your time, effort, and energy to get to your destination. Episode 2 of the Colorado Rapids documentary “Elevate” takes you through the MLS preseason. Throughout this process, it shows players going through constant tests to showcase their mental toughness and resolve. The team itself has created a discipline-based structure to determine who is navigating “The Rapids Way” and who is not. If you can create a system of behavior and feedback that will harvest positive results, your only limit will be the number of hours in a day.


Often when you are on the brink of achieving something great, you are surrounded by others on their own growth trajectory. This shouldn’t lead to envy or feeling threatened but be taken as an encouragement. The saying goes that you’re the average of the five people you spend the most time with. These successful people should not intimidate you but inspire you. You are an individual with a diverse background of culture, experience, and genetic predisposition and so is everyone else. If you want to achieve as much as possible, you need to understand that everyone is different. Spend less time worrying about how others are better than you and more time developing your strengths (and weaknesses).

Final Product vs. Work in Progress

When you watch a player like Leo Messi or Ronaldo you see superstars with countless fans, amazing abilities, and a constant desire to be the best. Commentators, writers, and the media are constantly reinforcing the romantic ideas of God-given talent and the idea that “you can’t teach that.” The reality is that this is not true.

Over the course of Messi’s journey, he trained at one of (if not) the top academies in the world with the most resources and mentors one could have. He grew up playing for years against premium competition and had a first-team manager willing to invest in him. After training with the first team, Ronaldinho told his teammates that this 16-year old could one day be better than him. He even began calling Messi his younger brother. Messi’s natural talents were a catalyst for his growth but there is no doubt that his story didn’t happen overnight. He continually saw himself as a work in progress and worked tirelessly to achieve his goals. Early in his career, he was consistently written off because of his size and in the past 2-3 years, it has almost been forgotten. Setbacks, discipline, and learning from the successful players around Messi have all been instrumental in his meteoric rise and this has everything to do with having a growth mindset.

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