“What’s the point of trying if I’m going to fail anyway?”. Have you ever found yourself asking this question or feeling this way? There are times when we feel that failure is inevitable and that absolutely nothing we do can change our consequences.

We’ve all experienced a fear of failure at some point in our lives. The truth is, we don’t know for a fact that we’re going to fail. In spite of this, there have probably been times when we’ve felt that it’s better to not do something at all than try something and fail at it.

This fear of failure is a self-limiting belief that results from having a fixed mindset. Let’s explore the meaning of fixed mindset and its other limitations.

What Is Fixed Mindset?

A fixed mindset assumes that intelligence and skills are relatively set. People with a fixed mindset strongly believe that ‘you either have what it takes to succeed or don’t’. They view competence as an innate quality, something they’re born with and that can’t be developed further. Fixed mindset people may say, “I’m naturally good at playing cricket.”

The definition of fixed mindset was first proposed by Carol Dweck, a Stanford University Psychologist. In her research, she found that people are influenced by two types of mindsets—growth and fixed. She later elaborated on these concepts in her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. A growth mindset is the opposite of a fixed mindset where people believe in self-growth and development. We switch between these two types, depending on the situation we’re in.

Here are some real-life examples of fixed mindset:

  • In 2011, Nokia, one of the (then) leading mobile phone brands refused to switch its operating system. Some people argue that they didn’t want to be another Samsung (their competitor) in the market. Eventually, Nokia faced a downfall and was outraced in the mobile manufacturing industry.

  • When Henry Ford II was chosen to lead the Ford Motor Company, he fired the (then) President Lee Iacocca because of internal disputes. Iacocca went on to revive Chrysler Corporations, one of the largest automobile manufacturers. It’s believed that Iacocca made this move to challenge Ford and he became obsessed with his public image. Chrysler suffered and eventually went out of business.

These examples of fixed mindset are proof that insecurities and envy lead you nowhere. These self-imposed limitations are products of a closed mindset. However, these limitations can be overcome.

How To Change Fixed Mindset?

It’s not possible to be open-minded all the time. Different circumstances force you to adopt a fixed mindset. Here are a few strategies to reflect on your behavior and outgrow a fixed mindset:

  1. Tell Yourself A Different Story

There’s a lot of power in the stories we tell ourselves. Learn to challenge your perspectives and look at the situation from another angle. For example, instead of ‘I stick to things that I know’, try saying ‘I don’t mind trying new things’.

  1. Set Learning Goals

When you focus on learning instead of performance, you choose progress. Monitor and review your progress for continuous improvement. For example, instead of ‘I’m not competent enough’, choose to say ‘I’ll learn and do better’.

  1. Capitalize On Your Failures

Failure may feel like an end in itself but it’s actually a means to learn and grow. Take advantage of your failures by reviewing them, identifying what didn’t work out and devising a plan to correct your mistakes.

  1. Be Consistent & Flexible

You can’t change your mindset in a day. It’s a continuous process that requires patience and persistence. Ask yourself these questions on a regular basis to reflect on your past actions.

  • Did I give up too easily?

  • Did I react too quickly?

  • Did I make any changes?


The fixed mindset by Carol Dweck is a groundbreaking theory. It tells you that the mind is a powerful thing and you can control it. Harappa Education’s Interpreting Self course will help you develop a better understanding of yourself. The Johari Window framework, in particular, will help you explore the relationship you have with your ‘self’ and you’ll be able to reflect on your actions more effectively. You’ll learn how to leverage yourself and believe in your abilities. You’ll never say ‘never’ again!

Explore blogs on topics such as Resilience, How the Mind Works, Types of Mindsets & Growth Mindset in our Harappa Diaries section to go on a path of self-development.