15 Science-Backed Growth Mindset Examples Everyone Needs For Success

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Do you know what a growth mindset is?

If not, you should. Really.

Dr. Carol Dweck, a Professor of Psychology at Stanford University, is one of the world’s leading researchers in the field of motivation and the growth mindset.

Dr. Dweck has spent decades researching achievement and success, and through her research, she’s discovered something groundbreaking — the power of a positive mindset.

She has learned that talent and skills aren’t the only elements of success.

A significant factor is whether we have what she calls a “fixed” mindset or a “growth” mindset.

headshots-of-Dr.-Carol-Dweck-growth-mindset
Barrie Davenport interview with Dr. Carol Dweck

What Is A Fixed Mindset?

Those with a fixed mindset believe their intelligence, personal qualities, and abilities are set in stone, and they have an urgency to prove those qualities over and over.

The main goal is to appear intelligent and capable and to avoid failure at all costs. When these people fail, they view it as a direct measure of their competence and self-worth.

People with a fixed mindset are often keenly sensitive to appearing wrong or being judged.

What Is A Growth Mindset?

People with a growth mindset have another approach to life entirely.

Says Dr. Carol Dweck in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, “In this mindset, the hand you’re dealt is just the starting point for development.”

This growth mindset definition by Dr. Dweck is based on the belief that your essential qualities can be cultivated through your efforts, attitude, and activities.

Although people may differ in their initial talents and aptitudes, interests, or personalities, everyone can change and grow through application and experience.

With a growth mindset, you believe change is possible and even necessary. You don’t view failures as the end of the world — you see them as opportunities for learning.

You are comfortable with taking risks, and you even seek out calculated risk opportunities.

You want to challenge yourself to try something harder, stretch beyond your perceived limits, and go for things others might not think you’re capable of achieving.

Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset

So where do you see yourself — as someone with a fixed mindset or a growth mindset?

Dr. Dweck’s research has shown having a growth mindset creates a love of learning and a resilience that’s essential for great accomplishment.

Virtually all great people have had these qualities. A  growth mindset provides motivation and productivity in business, education, personal habits, relationships, and sports.

If you have more of a fixed mindset and see the benefit of a growth mindset, Dr. Dweck has discovered you can learn the skills of a growth mindset and practice them until they become your more natural way of thinking and perceiving the world.

15 Growth Mindset Examples to Foster Motivation and Success

Need more clarity on how to use a growth mindset in everyday life? Here are some examples of a growth mindset you can adopt to skyrocket your motivation and success.

1. Learning from Your Mistakes

People with a growth mindset will firmly believe in learning from mistakes. Fixed mindset sufferers will beat themselves up or blame others.

When you see a mistake as a valuable tool for your growth mindset toolbox, you’re better prepared for the reality of learning, which inevitability includes some errors along the way. 

Let’s go to genius inventor Thomas Edison for a quote to bring this one home. He tried 1,000 times to create the lightbulb. 

“I didn’t fail 1,000 times. The light bulb was an invention with 1,000 steps.” – Thomas Edison, on inventing the light bulb 

2. Taking Risks

People with a fixed mindset like their own proverbial backyard. They don’t want to make it any better or worse. They want consistency over calculated risks.

When you have a growth mindset, you’ll take risks by investing in a new company or walking through a crowded group of men to ask out the woman who has their attention. 

Imagine how many risks aviator Amelia Earhart took in what was considered a field for males only. 

“Decide whether or not the goal is worth the risks involved. If it is, stop worrying….” – Aviator Amelia Earhart. 

3. Going Out of Your Comfort Zone

It might feel risky to go outside your comfort zone, but sometimes the only real risk is your inner dialogue and anxiety.

If you have an unwarranted fear of public speaking, offer to give a presentation to a small group of supportive colleagues. Get the “jitters” out and build on that. 

Identify what scares you and then crush it, a little bit at a time, if necessary.

“Do one thing every day that scares you.” -Eleanor Roosevelt

4. Asking for Constructive Criticism

There are two ways to accept criticism, and only one will be associated with a growth mindset.

  • Fixed Mindset Criticism: Folded arms, cold stare, frustration with excuses, or a general dismissal of the feedback in general. Also, a lack of seeking feedback for fear of letting people down. 
  • Growth Mindset: Listens and processes feedback. Asks specific questions about how to improve. Doesn’t argue with the person giving criticism. 

People around you are invested in your success, so don’t see them as adversaries. If you really knew it all, your station in life would be in a mansion with billions in the bank. Even Elon Musk isn’t above a good dose of feedback. 

“Constantly seek criticism. A well thought out critique of whatever you’re doing is as valuable as gold.” – Elon Musk

5. Apply for a Promotion

New research from LinkedIn shows that women are less likely than men to apply for a promotion, even if they are interested in the position. Why? Women reported they should meet 100% of all the listed qualifications.

Men reportedly will apply for a promotion if they have 60% of the listed qualifications. 

What gives? Women are talking themselves out of good jobs, assuming they aren’t qualified enough. Men don’t have that fear as much. Apply for all the jobs that pique your interest and are within your skills.

The bonus is you are also “going out of your comfort zone” and “taking a risk.” How’s that for checking off more boxes? 

6. Practicing the Power of “Yet”

This is a great way to change how you speak to yourself and others. Every time you encounter something you can’t do now, turn that “now” into a “yet.” 

  • “I can’t use chopsticks… yet.”
  • “I don’t know how to dance… yet.” 
  • “I don’t think this new company can succeed… yet.” 

Without a world of “yet,” we’d have no NASA, no nuclear energy, no electricity, for that matter. Make a list of things you can do now that you couldn’t do 10 years ago. See how you turned “yet” into “yes.” 

7. Focusing on the “Means” and Not the “End”

A common quote is, “The ends justify the means,” meaning it doesn’t matter how you get there. It just matters that you get there. When you focus on the end, you don’t appreciate the milestones of the means.

Every step you take toward the end goal is a learning experience filled with constructive criticism – from others or yourself – and helps propel you toward the goal.

Never let a step in the “means” be your “end.” Obstacles are just stepping stones that take more delicate footwork. The famous baseball player, Babe Ruth, might have said it best.

“Every strike brings me closer to the next home run.” – Babe Ruth, on his home run record

It’s worth noting that Babe Ruth struck out 1,330 times, even though he hit the most home runs of his generation. 

8. Changing Inner Dialogue

How we talk to ourselves, from perceiving the start of a new day to the environment we choose to sleep in, can impact our mindset. This one takes some work because our inner voice is loud and bossy. Here are some examples:

  • NO: “This is too hard.”
  • YES: “This is such a great challenge.” 
  • NO: “I can’t do that.” 
  • YES: “I need to re-evaluate how I will do this.” 
  • NO: “I should’ve known to avoid a project this hard.”
  • YES: “This project will take more time than I realized. Let’s create a calendar and set goal points.” 

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9. Refusing to Judge Others

When we get set in our ways and continue to believe we are constantly being judged, we then willingly or subconsciously judge others.

We might see a new colleague struggling with the new timesheet program and laugh to ourselves, “He just doesn’t get it.” That is the epitome of a fixed mindset. 

A growth mindset not only realizes that you flourish when learning and growing, but so do others. You might have struggled with the timesheets when you first saw the program too.

You now have an opportunity to show the new employee the tricks you learned instead of feeling superior to him. 

10. Celebrating Others

A growth mindset also allows you to recognize and praise other people for their own successes earned through their growth mindsets.

If you lead a team to give a big corporate presentation, celebrate each person and their specific victories. Do it publicly and be specific.

You never know which one of them was struggling with a calculated risk, completely outside of their comfort zone, or had to silence ongoing negative dialogue as they figured out their part. 

It doesn’t have to always be about you, but you do benefit from this course of action. As Booker T. Washington said:

“If you want to lift yourself up, lift up someone else.” – Booker T. Washington

11. Teaching Others

Celebrating a victory is great. When you create a new scheduling system that better accommodates vacation requests and covers each other’s shifts, you should take a moment to pat yourself on the back.

Schedules can be a very thankless job in the workplace. 

Your next step in these examples of growth mindset is to teach someone else. Not only will that person have a vested interest in the new system, but they can also now carry the training torch.

This will also allow you to take your own vacations without worry. 

12. Repositioning How You View Failure

Let’s say you applied for your dream job. You knew you had the skills, dedication, and passion for it. Now, imagine if the hiring manager said, “Try any other profession” before escorting you out.  

That would be a gut punch, right? You would see yourself and all your previous accomplishments and training as a complete failure if you have a fixed mindset.

If that advice always broke people down, the world would never have known the comedic genius of Lucille Ball. The owner of a drama school used those exact words to her face.  

Before you think she’s one in a million, Henry Ford went bust five times before he hit pay dirt. Imagine if he had given up on the third “failure.” Failure is simply a way to say, “Let’s start over using the tools we learned from the last attempt.” 

13. Reflecting On Your Growth

You didn’t come this far to only come this far. Much of knowing where we’re going is knowing where we’ve been and how we’ve improved.

Schedule five minutes a day or an hour a month to reflect on the growth in your life. Life challenges and obstacles don’t always come with clear-cut milestones or markers.

We must see the path and mark the successes to fuel the instinct and drive to move forward. 

“Always bear in mind that your own resolution to succeed is more important than any other one thing.” –Abraham Lincoln

14. Changing the Way You Talk to Children

Examples of growth mindset must start with children as young as possible to keep the movement going. Every parent or proud aunt/uncle thinks their child is the smartest, cutest, and funniest. With a few slight alterations to our wording, a growth mindset kicks in.

  • NO: “You got the top score? You are so smart!”
  • YES: “I am so impressed with how hard you studied to earn that top score.” 
  • NO: “I know it’s disappointing you didn’t win the school spelling bee. There were kids much older than you involved, and that’s not fair.”
  • YES: “I am proud of you for making it to the finals of the spelling bee. You studied very hard. As your mind grows and you learn more, you’ll learn more words.”

15. Tackling Mount Everest 

It doesn’t have to be THE Mount Everest, it can be YOUR Mount Everest. It might be the business you’ve always wanted to create.

It could be doing general contractor work on the expansion to your home. People who think with a growth mindset would never call it a “dream” and leave it there. 

Even FedEx founder Fred Smith first wrote about transporting goods overnight in college. He then served in Vietnam, learning military shipping methods and leadership. He started a company that lost nearly $30 million in the first two years.

Once the company became (highly) profitable, he wasn’t at the summit yet. He explored humanitarian efforts and crisis assistance worldwide.

People who are examples of growth mindset sometimes never actually hope to summit, because they enjoy the climb.

6 Ways to Build a Growth Mindset:

Pick one of these 6 growth mindset activities to add to your daily routine:

1. Begin with awareness.

Begin to catch yourself in a fixed mindset. Notice how you react to challenges, failures, or opportunities for taking risk.

Watch how often you limit yourself, undermine your potential, or bristle when someone suggests you are wrong. Notice your self-talk when you make a mistake or fail at something.

Self-awareness is the beginning of change, so make note of the occasions and situations that trigger your fixed mindset reactions.

2. Push through challenges.

When you’re attempting something new, and you come to the point when you’re bored, tired, hungry, or mentally stretched, push yourself to work a bit harder or longer.

man focused at computer desk growth mindset

Intentionally put yourself in a growth mindset, and see yourself accomplishing or completing the task. Rather than giving up as soon as things get tough, tell yourself that you can do it and keep going.

3. Seek constructive criticism.

No one likes to hear criticism, but quite often constructive criticism is just what we need to make a big leap in our knowledge or abilities.

Find people whose opinion you trust and admire, and ask for constructive criticism about your work, a project, your abilities, etc. Listen openly to what they say without defensiveness, and apply their suggestions.

4. Review your failures and mistakes.

Most of us like to bury our past failures and mistakes because we don’t like to feel bad about ourselves.

It’s embarrassing and causes shame or regret. But use the growth mindset to reevaluate your past mistakes. What can you learn from them? What can you use for your growth? How can you apply what you’ve learned to future goals?

5. Examine your words.

Take a look at your internal self-talk, especially when you feel you’ve not performed well or made a mistake.

Do you say things like, “I’m a loser? I will never accomplish that? It’s just too hard for me?”

Dr. Dweck has found in her research by simply using the words “yet” and “next time,” you can ignite the growth mindset and see more potential in yourself.

Rather than thinking, “I can’t do this,” instead say, “I can’t do this yet,” or “I will accomplish it next time.” This puts a positive spin on your attitude and emotions and trains your brain to remain open to challenges.

6. Blast through the blues.

When you feel depressed, rather than using the feelings as an excuse to do nothing or indulge in your unhappiness, work even harder. Push yourself to do a useful activity.

Think about effort as a positive, constructive force rather than something that further drags you down.

How will you use this list of growth mindset statements and examples?

Ready to start changing your mindset?

Begin applying these strategies in your daily life, and you’ll see how you transform from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset.

You can accomplish and achieve far more than you ever dreamed of as you begin to see how much potential you have for change and growth.

What is a growth mindset? Learn some examples of a growth mindset vs a fixed mindset in this post, plus an interview with Dr. Carol Dweck.
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