The Growth Mindset: A Key to Resilience, Motivation, and Achievement

Note: The updated article is at Growth Mindset.

Your mindset holds the key to realizing your potential.

Your mindset is your way of thinking, and your way of thinking can limit or empower you, in any number of ways.

In fact, according to Carol S. Dweck, author of Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, mindset is the one big idea that helps explain the following:

  • Why brains and talent don’t bring success
  • How they can stand in the way of it
  • Why praising brains and talent doesn’t foster self-esteem and accomplishment, but jeopardizes them
  • How teaching a simple idea about the brain raises grades and productivity
  • What all great CEOs, parents, teachers, athletes know

When Dweck was a young researcher, she was obsessed with understanding how people cope with failures, and she decided to study it by watching how students grapple with heard problems.

You’re Learning, Not Failing

One of Dweck’s key insights was that a certain kind of mindset could turn  a failure into a gift.

Via Mindset: The New Psychology of Success:

“What did they know?  They knew that human qualities, such as intellectual skills could be cultivated through effort.  And that’s what they were doing – getting smarter.  Not only weren’t they discouraged by failure, they didn’t even think they were failing.  They thought they were learning.”

Your Can Change Your IQ

Believe it or not, a big believer in the idea that you can use education and practice to fundamentally change your intelligence is Alfred Binet, the inventor of the IQ test.

Via Mindset: The New Psychology of Success:

“Binet, a Frenchman working in Paris in the early twentieth century, designed this test to identify children who were not profiting from the Paris public schools, so that new educational programs could be designed to get them back on track. Without denying individual differences in children’s intellects, he believed that education and practice could bring about fundamental changes in intelligence.”

Methods Make the Difference

Here is a quote from one of Binet’s major books,  Modern Ideas About Children:

"A few modern philosophers ... assert that an individual's intelligence is a fixed quantity, a quantity which cannot be increased.  We must protest  and react against this brutal pessimism ... With practice, training, and above all, method, we manage to increase our attention, our memory, our judgment and literally to become more intelligent than we were before."

Growth Mindset vs. Fixed Mindset

The difference that makes the difference in success and achievement is your mindset.  Specifically, a Growth Mindset is the key to unleashing and realizing your potential.

To fully appreciate what a Growth Mindset is, let’s contrast it by first understanding what a Fixed Mindset is.

According to Carol Dweck, a Fixed Mindset means that you fundamentally believe that intelligence and talent are fixed traits:

“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort. They’re wrong.”

In contrast, according to Dweck, a Growth Mindset means that you fundamentally believe that you can develop your brains and talent:

“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment. Virtually all great people have had these qualities.”

If you want to improve your motivation, set yourself up for success, and achieve more in life, then adopt and build a growth mindset.

Here are a few articles to help you get started:

3 Mindsets that Support You

5 Sources of Beliefs for Personal Excellence

6 Sources of Beliefs and Values

Growth Mindset Over Fixed Mindset

Training Mindset and Trusting Mindset

Comments (3)
  1. Edgars says:


    Sorry, that I write this comment here, but I would like to how from this artice:…/agile-results-with-evernote.aspx

    How do you use Notebook called "Commitments". What do you put there and how  do you use it on daily basics.


  2. J.D. Meier says:

    @ Edgars — I use my Commitments notebook to write down my commitments for the year and keep them handy in plain site.

    It serves as a simple reminder throughout the year of my big rocks for work.

    I create one note for each year.

    Here is an example from 2011:

    2011 Commitments


    1. Simplify VRF (Value Realization Framework)

    2. Enterprise Strategy IA (Information architecture)

    3. Journey to the Cloud

    4. Personal Development

    1. Simplify VRF

    Execution Plan

    – Distill the essence of VRF components, models, methods, and relationships

    – Create views to simplify both internal and external views.

    – Coach VRF on customer-connected engineering and agile development


    – Simplified path through VRF

    – Simpler view of VRF execution (backlog, user stories)

    2. Enterprise Strategy IA (Information Architecture)

    Execution Plan

    – Drive a rationalized taxonomy and information model across VRF / Industry / Campaigns / Enterprise Architecture Content

    – Rationalize the IA to create the most relevant content experiences for our customers

    – Map out the content and information architecture that encompasses scenarios, types, targets, channels, etc.


    – Catalog Model

    – Asset Model

    – Map of content types used by ESP

    3. Journey to the Cloud

    Execution Plan

    – Drive a v-Team for Journey to the Cloud

    – Pressure test the asset model for campaign content

    – Pressure test the execution model for campaign content


    – Campaign content for journey to the cloud

    4. Personal Development

    Execution Plan

    – Deep dive on Enterprise Strategy / Enterprise Architecture

    – Blog on relevant Enterprise Strategy / Enterprise Architecture skills

  3. Edgars says:

    @JD Meier, thanks! I thought that you maybe keep there commitments you gave to others.

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