Three Tips to Live with a Growth Mindset


I live in a region where skiing is a favourite pastime. Being active, I try to embrace winter and consider myself a good skier. Okay, I stick to the trails labeled with the blue box. For those uninitiated, blue boxes can be considered an average to difficult trail for intermediate skiers. Unlike my daughter, who bombs directly down the slopes without a care, I try to work on little technical aspects like carving to improve my abilities each time I go down the hill.

This past week, I wanted a new challenge. I wanted to tackle the snow park zone. These are the areas with jumps and rails that you have probably seen at the XGames or in the Olympics; albeit they’re not as technical or massive where I was skiing. Now I am old enough to understand gravity and the consequences of me being unsuccessful. Did that stop me? No! Jump ahead to the moment after two failed attempts at a rail. Let’s just say I needed to learn from my failures to be successful on the third attempt.

What are your beliefs about failure? Do you believe certain things are not meant to be? Do you shrink away from new challenges? Decades of research by Dr. Carol Dweck and her colleagues, gave rise to the terms fixed mindset and growth mindset. These terms were used to describe basic beliefs held by people about their own learning abilities and their level of intelligence. 

“Growth mindset: The understanding that abilities and intelligence can be developed.”

- Carol Dweck

A growth mindset is based on the belief that abilities and intelligence can be developed through hard work, focus, good strategies, and support from others. Individuals with a growth mindset thrive when challenged and embrace their failures as learning opportunities.

Fixed Mindset

Failure is the limit of my abilities.

I am either good at something or I’m not.

I don’t like to be challenged.

My potential is predetermined.

I take criticism personally.

My success is the only thing that matters.

I stick to what I know.

Growth Mindset

Failure is an opportunity to grow.

I can learn to do anything I want.

Challenges help me to grow.

My effort and attitude determine my abilities.

Feedback is constructive.

I am inspired by the success of others.

I like to try new things.

Let’s be honest, it’s not always easy! To live with a growth mindset, we must first acknowledge that we all have our own fixed-mindset triggers that we, at times, fall back upon. When we are on the receiving end of criticism or face challenges, we can easily slip into old patterns that impede our growth. Recognizing this is a critical first step. To be moved to be our greatest version of ourselves, we need to spend more time living with a growth mindset.

Three tips to live with a growth mindset:

Cultivate a sense of purpose.

Do the work to develop your own sense of purpose. Many of us inherited our purpose from family or some other source. Ask yourself, what makes you jump out of bed? What issues are close to your heart? Are there times when you lose track of time? What are your non-negotiables? Taking ownership of your purpose is the driver that can keep you invested and moving forward when those little obstacles get in your way.

Emphasize growth over speed.

We live in a world of instant gratification and we expect immediate results. Confucius said, “That it does not matter how slowly you go, as long as you do not stop.” So, do not bother looking at the height of the staircase; but rather, where you need to place your foot to take that first step. Act and build momentum over time.

Replace the word failing with the word learning.

There is no failure; only feedback. Having the belief that you cannot experience failure allows you the freedom to explore, to learn, and to grow. Recall the Chinese proverb, “If you get up one more time than you fall, you will make it through.” Keep standing up and dusting yourself off! From our learning, we can adjust our behaviours and choices to move closer to the results we truly desire.

“Would you like me to give you the formula for success? It's quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn't at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it. So, go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because, remember, that's where you will find success”.

-Thomas J. Watson


I’ve come to realize that the sweetest victories are the ones you never give up on; the ones where you had to dig deep and stay true to yourself and your purpose. Somewhere between the idea and your success, are often a multitude of setbacks and failures. These failures were my feedback. 

What are some ways you are living with a growth mindset? We’d love to hear!

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Brandon M. Downs

Brandon is an Artist, Entrepreneur, Strategist, and Credentialed Practitioner of Coaching. He has a passion for personal growth, human achievement, as well as mental and physical wellness. Brandon works with clients to help them achieve their vision of extraordinary! In doing so, he has been given the opportunity to learn the true power of serving and of gratitude. He is a former professional dancer with Canada’s Royal Winnipeg Ballet and holds an undergraduate degree in finance and a graduate degree in public administration. His greatest gift is that of being a father to three amazing people. He is eager to thrive with the Tribe!

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