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How Those in the Growth Mindset Handle Challenges

Did you get a chance to read my last blog post on the Fixed vs. Growth mindset, as explained in Carol S. Dweck’s groundbreaking book Mindset: The New Psychology of Success? Did it energize you because you knew you were on the right track? Or, on the other hand, did it scare you a little because you saw hints that you might be stuck in the dreaded fixed mindset? Either way, I’m hoping you had a chance to do some investigating because this concept is truly life-changing.

One of my favorite things about the growth mindset is how those who view life this way handle challenges. It’s easy to have a good attitude, treat people right and thrive when everything is going well in the world, but we all know that life doesn’t always work that way. Where most people falter is when life hands them a big pile of…challenges.

Think of the last time life slapped you with a whammy. Maybe it was one big event, like a divorce or the death of a loved one. Or, maybe it was a series of little events that snuck up on you: the alternator went out on the car, you didn’t get that promotion, your son got in a fight at school. Now try to put yourself in the frame of mind you were experiencing when you were dealing with these challenges. Were you thinking things like, “Why does this always happen to me?” or “I can’t do this any more, I’m going to call in sick and eat ice cream all day.”

I’m not judging! Believe me, I’ve dealt with life’s challenges in exactly those ways before. However, since becoming more aware of mindset and being able to identify when I’m acting out of a fixed one, I’ve been able to start turning things around. I’ve started to think like those who view life as one big learning experience and challenges as just another way to get better and understand this world we’re living in.

So how would someone in the growth mindset react to the challenges we’ve list above (or any other challenge, for that matter)?

--They never think it’s about them. Those in the growth mindset do not take things personally. It can be easy to fall into the victim mentality and think someone (or life in general) is out to get you when stuff starts going wrong, but growth mindset folks are able to separate themselves from the situation and never make it a personal insult.

--They are constantly asking what they can learn. It doesn’t matter how sucky a situation is, those who see life from the growth mindset know that there is something buried in there that can make them a better person. Maybe it’s realizing how important it is to tell people how you feel about them before they’re gone or reaching deep down to figure out that promotion wasn’t what you really wanted in the first place; there’s always something to learn and these people want to know what it is.

--They turn to others. A hallmark of the growth mindset is never thinking you know more than others, understanding that you can always gain knowledge by asking questions, being curious, and realizing you can never know it all. When experiencing challenges, those with the growth mindset are never afraid to turn to someone and say, “What would you do in this situation?”, “How do you think I should handle this?” or simply, “Help.”

--They don’t take it as a sign they should quit. When someone with the fixed mindset experiences a challenge or roadblock, they often view it as a sign they should give up. That’s because they believe that if they’re talented or smart, life should be easy and if it’s not, that means they’re doing the wrong things. Those with the growth mindset, on the other hand, value effort and know that if the going is getting tough, it’s a sign they’re on the right track and just need to get a little tougher.

Go back to the challenge you pictured in the beginning of this article. Did you face it in a fixed or growth mindset manner? How did the challenge resolve itself? How did it change you? As I learn more and more about how these mindsets truly change our lives, I continue to be surprised at the many ways a fixed mindset holds us back and ultimately hampers our happiness. I’m excited to wrap up this series with my next post for all of you who think you might identify with the fixed mindset and want to learn how to change.


Trish Cody has over 18 years of experience consulting with some of the world’s top Fortune 500 Companies. Today, as an ICF and iPEC Certified Coach and Energy Leadership Master Practitioner, Trish works with clients to uncover their core values and beliefs, clearly see how they are showing up in their behaviors and impacting their success, and to shift their thinking to naturally attract positivity and success. For more information, visit

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