Coaching Podcast: Growth Mindset vs Fixed Mindset as A Coach

April 1, 2020

The Everything Life Coaching Podcast, featuring JRNI Coaching founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux is a deep dive into the experience and business of being a life coach. In this episode of the Everything Life Coaching Podcast, we discuss fixed vs. growth mindset and what it means for your coaching business. Subscribe to get all our episodes!

The right mindset can make or break your business. But more than that, understanding your mindset can greatly help in allowing you to understand yourself better and to lead the kind of life you want.

In this podcast episode, we go deep into the difference between having a fixed and growth mindset. These terms were first coined by Carol Dweck in 1999 and people - not only life coaches - still use her work to study human beings from a psychological perspective and beyond. And in the world of life coaching, a great understanding of these two is very important.

What Is A Fixed Mindset?

A fixed mindset is the belief that skills, intellect, and talent are set and unchangeable. It’s this idea that you live with a ceiling; with a limit. It’s that “I’ll stick to what I know” thought with an attitude that says “‘either I’m good at it or not.”

For folks with this kind of mindset, things are binary and for them, everything is fine the way things are. These people often look at the world and think there’s nothing to change. When you have a fixed mindset, you’ll most likely end up limiting your opportunities.

What Is A Growth Mindset?

A growth mindset is the belief that skills, intellect, and talent can be developed through practice and perseverance. If you’re the kind of person who always wants to learn new things and if you’re always eager to take risks, to change and to grow into new roles -- it’s likely that you have a growth mindset.

People with this way of thinking are always looking for what else they can improve, rather than being fixed on the idea that things are just the way they are.

Having a growth mindset is a core belief of JRNI coaching and an important component of coaching in general. Setting the right mindset is not just about adjusting our way of thinking. It’s also allowing ourselves to explore and to be open to whatever options arise from that exploration.

At what point does a growth mindset become ego?

The line between ego and growth mindset can be very blurry. If you’re confused about this, it’s not just you. But we have these markers to help you out.

Growth mindset = I can learn anything.

Ego = I know everything/I know better.

Keys to Changing Your Mindset

Having the right mindset is everything -- patients who set their minds on recovery recover faster and results are similar for entrepreneurs. Whether your goal is to change the mindset for yourself or to help your client shift their mindset it’s important to be aware of your current mindset and practice, practice, practice.

Let’s start with awareness of your own mindset. It is that very first step towards change, improvement, or growth. In order to do this, look at your reactions. Look at how you respond to things and circumstances in life. When you observe a pattern of how you react, you can easily pinpoint the type of mindset you have, which will allow you to change it over time.

Next up is practice. Yes, shifting mindset takes a lot of practice. It’s not something you can change overnight. To truly make the shift, practice, practice, practice. You will stumble. You will fail and fall back and notice you’re going back to your old mindset. It happens. But when you keep practicing, improvement will come.

Fixed vs. Growth Mindset from a Coaching Perspective

When coaching somebody, how do you know or what do you pick up on when your client has a fixed mindset?

By paying attention to what they’re saying. By paying attention to their perspective on something. If they always see the glass half-empty. If negativity keeps creeping in. Black and white thinking and an all or nothing mentality. These things are some of the many markers to note and confirm your client has a fixed mindset. 

But once you figured this out, what do you do? You begin by validating them.

A good life coach is always there to say, “Hey, you’re not alone.” Don’t label or judge them. Praise their effort to gain awareness then begin to ask “what if” questions to encourage a growth mindset. Questioning feeds growth. Psycho-education or teaching your client about neuroplasticity is another great way to go. Neuroplasticity is the capacity of your brain to change and grow. With repeated practice, your client can completely change their way of life, but it takes time and dedication.

How can you work with someone when you start to notice they have a fixed mindset and get them going with adapting growth-oriented strategies? 

It’s always tricky to help someone with a fixed mindset. They’re often closed off and fixated on their own thoughts and ideas. But when the conversation about shifting mindset is on the table, it’s your job to work with your client and strategize well to help them. And here are some tools you can share with your clients:

  1. Learning to hear your mindset voice. This may take a while! Learn to become aware of the internal commentary that shows up and draw awareness to whether it’s fixed or growth.
  2. Identify (whether it’s fixed or growth) and flip it and see what happens. See things from that perspective and realize that you have the power to choose.
  3. Start to act in line with your desired mindset. Start to see what kind of actions would reflect a growth mindset. Moving from thought to action is where real growth occurs.

Ready to discover if coaching is right for you?

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