Office of Culture and Experience

Are You Visionary?

February 16, 2016 • Coaching, OPD, Values

Read the following four sentences, and write down whether you agree or disagree with each of them1:

  • You are a certain kind of person, and there is not much that can be done to really change that.
  • No matter what kind of person you are, you can always change substantially.
  • You can do things differently, but the important parts of who you are can’t really be changed.
  • You can always change basic things about the kind of person you are. 1

Which ones did you agree with? 1 and 3? 2 and 4? If you selected 1 and 3, researchers would say that you have a “fixed mindset1,2.” Selecting 2 and 4 would indicate that you have a “growth mindset1,2.”

Here are some characteristics of these ways of thinking:

Fixed Mindset 1,2:

  • Belief that your abilities are basically static
  • Avoidance of challenge
  • Fear of failure
  • Fear that failure demonstrates true ability
  • Distrust for feedback
  • Relies on natural talent over effort
  • Thinks short-term
  • Focuses on and praises ability

Growth Mindset1,2:

  • Belief that abilities can be developed with practice
  • Acceptance of challenges, despite possibilities for failure
  • Seeks stretch assignments
  • Eager for feedback because it can make you better
  • Thinks long-term
  • Focuses on and praises process and effort

Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychology professor, created this concept of growth and fixed mindsets and has studied them in populations from small children to Olympic athletes. Her findings are clear- adopting a growth mindset will make you more successful at just about anything1.

At this point, you may be concerned if you selected the questions for fixed mindset. Good news! A growth mindset can be developed. The brain can be trained to take a growth approach. It just takes practice1,2. We encourage everyone to start by approaching each coaching session with a growth mindset. Start with the belief that you can develop your abilities at work. Enter each session eager for feedback, prepared to find solutions, and willing to stretch beyond your comfort zone. By approaching your work with a growth mindset, you are truly living our value of Be Visionary. We each must do our part to create innovative solutions in the pursuit of excellence, and it starts in our minds.

Want to learn more? Check these out:

1.Heath, C., & Heath, D. (2010). Switch: How to change when change is hard. New York, NY: Broadway Books.

2. Happy+Well. (2013, October 20). Carol Dweck ‘Mindset-the new psychology of success’ at happiness & its causes 2013 [Video file]. Retrieved from

3. TED. (2014, November). Carol Dweck: The power of believing that you can improve [Video file]. Retrieved from:

-The OPD Team