Patrick Horsman on: Fixed vs. Growth Mindsets

Our thoughts are powerful. The way you think about yourself and the things you feel about yourself have the power to influence your personal and professional life. Over time, those thoughts you constantly tell yourself will develop into a mindset that dictates your entire personality. Carol Dweck, a Stanford University psychologist, tells us that a mindset is a simple idea that profoundly affects a person’s life. She says that this view you adopt for yourself will determine how you live your life, see the world, and make decisions. Patrick Horsman advises aspiring entrepreneurs that mindset is no small thing - your perceptions about your abilities will inevitably shape the way you operate.

According to Dweck, there are two kinds of mindsets - either a fixed mindset or a growth mindset. If you love a challenge and persevere in the face of failure, you might have a growth mindset. If you avoid challenges and believe talents and abilities are fixed, you probably have a fixed mindset. Is one better than the other? Let’s take a look.

Fixed mindsets

People with fixed mindsets believe people are born with or without special talents and that these things cannot be improved upon with time, persistence, or effort - you simply have it, or you don’t. They look at failures as validation of their lack of intelligence or limited abilities that prevents them from achieving their goals. People with this kind of mindset give up easily due to fear of failure and a belief that they can’t improve. 

  • Avoids challenges
  • Gives up easily
  • Sees effort as fruitless
  • Ignores negative feedback
  • Feels threatened by the success of others

Growth mindsets

Entrepreneurs with a growth mindset are able to find freedom in their thoughts and beliefs. They understand that certain people have special talents and abilities, but these traits can be developed over time with effort and hard work. These people take joy in the learning process and don’t hesitate to take inspiration from others. They embrace challenges knowing that difficulties can be used as a means to develop new skills and grow.

  • Embraces challenges
  • Persists in the face of setbacks
  • Sees effort as a path to mastery
  • Learns from criticism and mistakes
  • Finds inspiration in the success of others 

Can you change your mindset?

Absolutely. Everyone is capable of changing their way of thinking. Here are a few ways to get you started.

Be curious. 

One of the top skills to cultivate as an entrepreneur is your curiosity. When we push ourselves to learn new things, we inevitably find new opportunities, ideas, and methods.

Get out of your comfort zone. 

Growth happens outside of your comfort zone, so if you want to adopt a growth mindset, you’re going to have to brave new challenges.

Become self-aware. 

Shifting from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset will not happen overnight. Like anything else, it requires practice. Consistently make it a point to reflect on your past behavior and recognize patterns in events that might make you adopt a fixed mindset. Why did you fail to recognize a fixed mindset when it was happening? How will you change your way of thinking the next time?

Set learning commitments rather than performance goals. 

Success doesn’t come overnight. Focusing on the process as opposed to the outcome will help us look for small, continuous improvements that add up over time. Successful entrepreneurs will consciously choose a path of work, effort, practice, and persistence. Commit to learning every day instead of setting goals that prove your worth. For example, instead of setting a goal to lose twenty pounds, commit to eating healthy every day. Rather than setting a goal to break eighty on the golf course, commit to hitting the range X amount of times per week. 

Capitalize on your failures. 

Take advantage of your failures by tearing them apart to identify what went wrong and then create a plan to correct your mistakes. Training your mind to look at failures as a means to learn and grow instead of considering them a limitation of your abilities will enable successful entrepreneurs to capitalize on them.

Surround yourself with people who share a growth mindset.

When you’re around people who believe in you and encourage you to embrace challenges, persist through difficulties, and look at failure as a learning opportunity, you’ll be more likely to succeed. Surround yourself with growth-minded people by seeking mentors, joining clubs and organizations, and networking with other entrepreneurs. 


Patrick Horsman believes that in order to become a successful entrepreneur, having a growth mindset is crucial. Luckily for aspiring entrepreneurs who weren’t born with or taught to have a growth mindset at an early age, it’s never too late to learn. Our brains are highly adaptable to new ideas and new ways of doing things.