Growth Mindset

This skill is part of the Traits & Habits section in the Soft Skills framework

What is a Growth Mindset?

Growth mindset in 25 words or less

At its core, a growth mindset is a fundamental belief that you can grow your abilities beyond their current state through learning and work.

Fixed habits do their best to resist the winds of growth and innovation

Comparing growth mindset with its opposite

A better way to explore this question is to compare growth mindset side-by-side with a “fixed mindset”, which is the opposite of a growth mindset.

🛑 Fixed mindset 📈 Growth mindset
Core belief Intelligence and skills are fixed Intelligence and skills can be grown through work
Openness to challenges Avoid challenges in order to avoid criticism Embrace challenges as a means to learn new ways
View on feedback Sees feedback as personal attacks to their abilities Welcomes feedback as a constructive means of growth
Resilience Gives up easily and accepts it as “that’s as good I can do” Perseveres through setbacks by accepting failures as learning
Perception of mistakes “Mistakes are a reflection of my (in)abilities” “Mistakes are part of the learning process I need for my growth”

Who originated the concept of Growth Mindset?

Carol Dweck originated the concept of “growth mindset”. She is a professor of psychology at Stanford University and one of the world’s leading researchers on motivation and mindsets.

Visual Concepts of Growth Mindset

Let’s explore curated visuals supporting the concept of a growth mindset

Your mindset is a doorway to growth (or not)

I like the door metaphor for fixed vs. growth mindset. Here’s how to look at it:

  • A fixed mindset has many locks, keeping you stuck.
  • You’re kept in place in terms of your intelligence and abilities.
  • Unlock them to open your potential for new ideas and skills.
  • Be aware that some of us have more locks in place than others, so give yourself time to develop an effective growth mindset.

A growth mindset doesn’t mean blind action

Most people mistake a “growth mindset” as one where you constantly grow without pause.

This is far from the spirit of having a growth mindset. It’s important to follow a more reflective model. This means:

  1. taking time after each achievement or action to reflect on what you have done
  2. making course corrections if you feel you’re heading in the wrong direction
  3. giving yourself the space to enjoy the internal reward of knowing what you have accomplished so far

FAQ for techies skeptical of growth mindset

Why should I care about having a growth mindset? My technical skills speak for themselves.

I won’t refute the importance of technical skills because they are still the most visible aspect of your work. However, having a growth mindset enhances your ability to persist when you have to adapt, innovate, and solve complex problems. It encourages continuous learning and resilience, and that makes you more versatile and valuable in rapidly changing tech environments.

I’m already good at what I do. Why fix what’s not broken?

As a top-grade professional, you’d recognize the need to embrace new challenges and learn new practices. A growth mindset can help you push your knowledge boundaries, embrace new challenges, and stay ahead in your field. In essence, a growth mindset ensures you’re not left behind.

Isn’t a growth mindset just a buzzword for self-help and psychology enthusiasts? I don’t need psychology to write code or run systems.

A growth mindset is more than a buzzword. Leading researchers like Carol Dweck, a professor at Stanford University, have bet their careers on it. In other words, a growth mindset as a concept is a proven approach to personal and professional development. It complements your technical skills by fostering a proactive attitude toward learning and improvement, which is essential for long-term success.

I still don’t see how a growth mindset could make a difference in my technical work.

I know for a fact that a growth mindset can support your efforts to develop better soft skills, which is essential to developing a business or taking up leadership and senior IC positions. In terms of supporting your technical work, a growth mindset encourages experimentation and learning from failures, which are key to innovation in any technical field. Unless your field stays the same for years and decades, which it probably does not.

I already work hard at learning new things. Isn’t that enough?

That’s great, but a growth mindset takes your efforts one step further by changing how you perceive challenges and setbacks. From my encounters with 100s of technical professionals, we all get dejected from time to time when our way doesn’t work. A growth mindset can be the support blanket that comforts you through failures, making them into opportunities to grow.

I feel like this is just a way to say I’m not good enough as I am. Why should I change?

It’s not about thinking whether you are good enough or not. Considering a growth mindset is about recognizing that you have an innate potential to be even better. It empowers you to take greater control of your development, which in turn might help you achieve goals you might not have thought were even possible.

Q: Can you give me a concrete example of how a growth mindset has benefited a technical professional?

Consider engineers who pivoted to new technologies like AI or IoT. These kinds of technologies have a steep learning curve, even for seasoned professionals. Trail-and-error and failure come with a steep learning curve. People with a fixed mindset can feel majorly dejected and give up amid a constant barrage of failures. A growth mindset can help you to embrace that tough learning curve and adapt. It’s not often publicized but many of those who are now leading these emerging fields took the tough learning curve and likely thrived because of their innate growth mindset. It’s not all natural talent after all. Who’s 10 years old and thinking about LLMs and computer vision?

What if I don’t see immediate results?

Spoiler alert: you won’t see immediate results. Anyone who has shifted from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset will tell you that developing a growth mindset is a gradual process. Immediate results might not always be visible, but over time, you’ll notice improvements in how you handle challenges, collaborate with others, and innovate in your work. The key is to be patient and persist through setbacks.

How do I start developing a growth mindset without feeling overwhelmed?

Start small by setting learning goals, seeking feedback, and reflecting on your experiences. Embrace challenges and view setbacks as learning opportunities. Gradually, these practices will become part of your routine. And then what do ya know, you’ve started developing a growth mindset.

How grit and resilience fit into growth mindset

I mentioned earlier that Carol Dweck coined the concept of growth mindset, and that one of the key aspects of doing it well is being able to persist through setbacks. Another mindset researcher, Angela Duckworth, introduced the concept of grit.

In its simplest form, grit can be broken down into:


Maintaining passion and perseverance for long-term goals


through effort and interest in your growth in a specific area


over possibly years despite setbacks, adversity, and plateaus

How grit and resilience can manifest to support your growth mindset

At work. When facing a challenging project:

  • your growth mindset will help you see it as a chance to develop new skills
  • your grit will keep you motivated and persistent over the long timespan of the project
  • your resilience will help you recover from any setbacks during the project

At work. When developing a new skill to support your work:

  • your growth mindset will give you the belief that you can improve in a difficult skill area e.g. AI
  • your grit will drive you to continue working hard as you navigate the steep learning curve
  • your resilience will help you bounce back from initial poor outcomes and keep trying