By Joshua Peters –

Developing a Growth Mindset

Life in my twenties was hard!

Due to choices I made, I felt trapped in a life I hadn’t really wanted. 

I took any type of criticism or feedback as a direct attack against me. When I would talk to someone, if they brought up a concept or idea that I didn’t know about, I’d pretend I understood so I wouldn’t look stupid. I put a lot of pressure on myself to do things right, to do things perfectly, and when it wasn’t the way I envisioned, I’d beat myself up.

Although I felt unhappy and unfulfilled, I was afraid to say what I really wanted because I was afraid I would lose what I did have. I felt completely stuck and had no idea how to get free. I believed that the world was against me and no matter how hard I tried, I would never do anything right.

I was stuck in a fixed mindset.

Fixed vs Growth Mindset

Someone with a fixed mindset believes that everyone is born with certain abilities, a fixed intelligence, and a particular character, and no matter how much effort or work you do it won’t change the basic traits of the person.

They tend to experience life in a very black and white way – there are winners and losers, you’re either successful or a failure, you’ve got talent or you haven’t.

They often want to demonstrate how good they are at something, to prove themself to the world.

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In contrast, people with a growth mindset believe that your abilities, your intelligence, and your character can always be changed. They embrace challenges and view setbacks as opportunities to grow and learn.

Failure becomes feedback. They ask themselves “what can I learn from this” and then incorporate the learning into their lives, changing their strategy for next time.

They believe that, although not everyone is going to become a Mozart or Picasso, with a little time and effort anyone can increase their skills in any area.

How to encourage a growth mindset

Most people find they have a growth mindset in some areas of life and a fixed mindset in others. In my twenties I couldn’t seem to learn how to be in a relationship or have positive self esteem but I was always learning new skills in the areas of technology and design.

It wasn’t until I finally realized that the universe was not out to get me. I was basically making that up. If I could make that up, I could make up better, more positive ideas and beliefs that could actually serve me.

Here are four key ways to encourage a growth mindset in yourself or even in others.

  • Replace your negative talk with positive talk

How often have you made a mistake and then spent time and energy beating yourself up for the mistake you made? Perhaps you tell yourself something like “I can’t do this”, “That was really stupid”, or even “You’ll never get anything right!”

Remember, there is no failure. Mistakes are opportunities to grow and to learn. When you notice the negative talk, turn it around. Ask yourself “what can I learn from this?” or laugh at what’s happening – the universe sending you a lesson. Tell yourself “I’m still learning how to do this.”

There’s a magic word that can quickly and easily turn around just about any negative self talk. 


Add ‘yet’ to the end of “I can’t do this” to change it from fixed to growth.

“I can’t do this yet.”

  • Reward actions, not results.

Have you ever told someone or been told “great job” when you accomplished something? As well intentioned as that is, it actually instills a fixed mindset into the person. By giving praise only when something is done well, it teaches us that we have to do well to get praise.

Try this instead. Praise for the effort.

“You worked really hard and practiced every day to get on that team.”

“I really like the colors you used in this picture.”

“This presentation shows how much thought and effort you put into it.”

Encourage the effort to encourage learning and growth.

  • Take time to reflect

Life can feel incredibly busy. Just when you finish one project or task, the next one is there waiting for you. Often, the process of growth can go unnoticed. Sometimes the benefit of slowing down to experience the growth outweighs the speed of doing another task

One way to develop the habit of reflection is to ask yourself, “what did I learn from this?” Fold it into a daily routine, either journaling your learnings, or sharing them with someone. 

Consider a gratitude journal. Write down three things you are grateful for each day, different from day to day. You’ll begin to notice the gifts you have in your life.

If you have a family meal, try asking everyone to share. What are you grateful for? What did you learn today? What challenged you? 

  • Take risks and celebrate your growth

At the end of your life you’ll regret the experiences you didn’t have much more than any mistakes you may have made. 

Take risks. Try new things. Allow yourself to make mistakes and learn from them.

When you’re facing a situation that used to fill you with fear, stay calm. Reframe the situation. This is an opportunity for you to learn and to grow.

Step off the proverbial cliff and discover what happens. 

Then celebrate the growth you create. Enjoy the accomplishments that occur throughout your life. This makes space for more growth and for even more accomplishments.

Magic happens in the process rather than in the results.

Once I started practicing these four steps, my life began to open up for me. I started learning from my mistakes. I told people that I didn’t know what they were talking about and then they’d teach me. I learned to be grateful for everything I had and more amazing experiences appeared. 

I took risks and stepped out of my comfort zone, all while telling myself I was learning and growing. I’m not perfect. I make mistakes all the time and have learned to laugh at them and let them go.

Remember, if you feel unsure about how to practice a growth mindset, you are learning. 

You haven’t developed a growth mindset… yet.

-Joshua Peters is a growth coach with clients large and small

He can be reached at