Episode 20: Lessons Learned From Carol Dweck

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This week I share lessons learned from Carol Dweck, one of my favorite authors, teachers, and mindset gurus. I share one of her most powerful and famous concepts and how it applies to you. Learning this will help you to understand why you’re not taking the action you want to be taking, it will explain why you’re blaming, and most importantly, it’ll tell you a lot about your level of CONFIDENCE. Carol is amazing and I can’t wait to share some major GEMS with you! Tune in with LDS Life Coach Hannah Coles

Episode 20 – teacher spotlight

Hello everyone! As you know each tenth episode – or maybe you didn’t know but every tenth episode I spotlight one person who has taught me and helped shape my life and I want to share it with you so that you can learn from them as well. This week I’m focusing on Carol Dweck and her incredible book called, Mindset.

Creator of the Growth Mindset, Fixed Mindset

Carol Dweck, an amazing woman and world-renowned psychologist from Stanford University came up with this concept that has made such a dramatic impression on me and really, the world. She is the one who originally came up with the concept about having a growth mindset or a fixed mindset. 

I remember learning this for schooling and teaching my kids because we homeschool. I loved the concept and idea behind it then just the little bits that I picked up on but it really wasn’t until I picked up this book that I was able to dive much deeper into this concept and just how much it applies in every area of our lives.

I’m telling you need this book. Go to Amazon and buy it, highlight it, mark it, and then plan on reading and rereading every year because it’s so good into who we are, why we do what we do, and understanding what’s going on for us in our minds.


This concept and the tools she teaches in her book can help you in every area of your life, whether that’s with family and learning to understand different dynamics, or with your kids, your spouse, your callings at church, your friends, new goals, your work – whatever it is this applies. But for my podcast my sole goal is to help you become your best self. I want to help you really understand that your confidence comes from within and so today I’m going to share how this relates to you and in strengthening that part of you. 

So mindset, what is a fixed mindset and why is it a problem?

Dweck says, 

“In a fixed mindset, people believe their basic qualities, like their intelligence or talent, are simply fixed traits. They spend their time documenting their intelligence or talent instead of developing them. They also believe that talent alone creates success—without effort.”

When you’re in the fixed mindset mode there’s no room for growth. It’s either or. Either you have talent, skill, intelligence or you don’t. This is also a problem because logically I think a lot of us know that people can learn, grow, change but deep down we still fear that we’re not enough and that we’ll never be enough. That we’re lacking in certain areas and that’s just it. 

Limited Mindset

It’s a very scary and bleak mindset. It’s also when we notice others and that they seem to have what we’re lacking and then we get envy and jealousy mixed in there because we deep down believe that we may never have what they have and we need that to be happy.

Growth Mindset

So let’s look at what the growth mindset is, Dweck says, 

“In a growth mindset, people believe that their most basic abilities can be developed through dedication and hard work—brains and talent are just the starting point. This view creates a love of learning and a resilience that is essential for great accomplishment.” 

I love this concept and definition so much because we can change. We can grow and evolve and become all that we want to become.

Feeling the “Not Enough” syndrome

I used to really struggle in certain areas of my mindset. I felt like something was missing. Something was lacking within me. We were very blessed, my husband had a great job, my kids were healthy, we had a lot of great opportunities but I still felt frustrated and unhappy and just this deep down fear that I wasn’t enough.

I’d think about people that I looked up to, people with amazing qualities and characteristics and I wanted to be like them. I wanted to be charitable like Mother Teresa. I wanted to be brave and courageous like Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. I wanted to be selfless like Mahatma Ghandi. There were so many people I looked up to and wished I had an inkling of their character but when I thought of them I couldn’t let myself be inspired by them because I had such a fixed mindset around it.

I really believed that they were given something that I didn’t have and couldn’t have.

That somehow they were born with these incredible qualities and why didn’t I have them and why couldn’t I have them?

It was really discouraging. I remember a sister getting up in Sacrament meeting one Sunday and proclaiming that she was an optimist and at first I thought, “wow, that’s amazing. I want to believe that about myself too. I want to be an optimist.” But just as I thought that my inner mean girl was like, “No, honey…you’re not an optimist. Remember just last week when you lost your cool and got frustrated with your kids?” So right then and there I felt like, “yeah, I guess you’re right. I’m not an optimist. I’m a pessimist.” And again, I felt discouraged and envious of that quality because I was afraid I’d never be able to say that about myself.

Happy Thoughts Don’t Work

I tried collecting happy thoughts, uplifting quotes, reciting mantras, doing all that but it only went so far. Eventually I’d revert back to defaults and get frustrated, think negatively, judge – everything opposite of what I wanted to be and it was really discouraging to believe that, that’s just who I was and that’s how it would always be and I didn’t like it. I didn’t like me in those moments either.

I felt like I just had to already BE that kind of person and since I wasn’t, since I wasn’t perfect at it, that meant that I wasn’t that kind of person and that most likely I’d never be that kind of person. It wasn’t a happy place mentally for me. Shortly thereafter I found coaching and coaching taught me how to cultivate a growth mindset. 

Awareness is Key

It showed me what I was creating, that I had fixed thoughts and beliefs but I didn’t have to stay there and it was so amazing to go through that process and learn that I could be like those people I so loved and admired. I could develop that character and those virtues. It wasn’t set in stone. Whatever I lacked, there was a way to fill it and that really was the start to a whole new me and hopefully you too.

Here’s the thing, we all have both, a mixture of both fixed and growth thoughts and beliefs. We’re both a fixed and growth mindset individual. As I share some things today that really helped me I want you to remember that it isn’t between good and bad, right and wrong. It’s about become aware of where you’re at and where you’re going.

Not a battle between GOOD and BAD

It wasn’t bad for me to have a fixed mindset. It was just a belief system. It didn’t bring me the most happiness and I wasn’t where I wanted to be but it wasn’t bad. I love that I’ve learned to adopt and cultivate more growth mindset tendencies because when I think in terms of growth, progression, becoming I am happier. 

But it’s not about right and wrong, good and bad. It’s all about awareness today. You have to be willing to look at your ugly and choose not to make it mean negative things about you, rather that you notice this is what your brain is creating and now what do you want to do about it? 

There’s so many avenues that you could take this concept to. Since it is a mental construct but for this podcast since we focus on confidence and overcoming our insecurities, doubts, and really learning to create the best you we’re going to stick to this area and how this growth mindset, fixed mindset can help you in developing more confidence and learning to let go of our fear.

Confidence and the Mindsets

I love what Carol says about confidence, she says, 

“Confidence is not a fixed trait that you either have or don’t have—and it’s not about being the best, smartest, or most successful person in the room. It’s a state of mind that can be learned and strengthened, which means it’s not a result of success. It’s the foundation.”

This is really fascinating because there are a great many of us that believe that you either are or aren’t a confident person. Everyone wants more confidence but they’re confused about what it really is and where it comes from. We tend have this belief that if we could gain more, have more, be more then we’d feel confident but that’s not what this is about. It’s not, if I had 50 friends then I’d feel confident. If I weighed less, then I’d feel confident. Or even, if I made one million dollars then I could be confident. 

It’s NOT out there

Confidence isn’t out there, it’s not something you have to go out and do for you to have it. It’s a feeling. It comes from your thoughts and as Carol said, it’s a mindset. It’s a state of mind. 

Here’s where we get ourselves into trouble. We’re too afraid of what we’re thinking and what we might do and what we might make what we do mean about ourselves. We Don’t to look foolish or fail so we’d rather not try. We’d don’t want to say the wrong thing because we might make that mean something negative about ourselves, like, “I’m always so different and different is bad, people don’t like different so let’s just not engage at all.” 

Outcome focused

Dweck says, 

“In the fixed mindset, everything is about the outcome. If you fail—or if you’re not the best—it’s all been wasted.”

Failing isn’t the problem. If you really think about it, failing is an opinion, right? It’s also information. It doesn’t have to mean bad or negative or that you’re a failure. It doesn’t to be attached to your character and who you are as a human being. But when we’re operating from the fixed mindset we do this. Failing means that you’re a failure. It’s focusing solely on the result. 

If you’re not making bucko bucks then you’re failing. You’re not good at it so that means that you’re a failure. You’re not good enough. And this feels terrible. It’s also 100% optional. Notice when you’re wanting to combine these together. When you’re focusing on the outcome instead of the process and what you’re making that outcome mean about you.

Outside validation doesn’t work or last

I spoke at this event once and I’d been doing several speaking engagements and I loved them. I was good at them. There was lots of praise and validation afterwards. It was grand and lovely. It was easy for me to think that I’m really good because I had a good result. Even in positive situations you can still have a fixed mindset.

Then I spoke at another event, same address, better handouts, better prepared and the people were not interested. They weren’t engaged. They looked annoyed and afterwards no one came up and spoke to me. It was really uncomfortable and I felt like I was a failure. They didn’t like my message which I made it mean, they didn’t like me. If they didn’t like more people wouldn’t like me and I might as well give up now because no one likes what I have to offer.

Growth mindset is about becoming

It was all about the fixed mindset. I was too outcome focused. I made the result mean something about my character and that I was doomed because I was a failure. It also felt horrible. I wasn’t operating from my best self. I wasn’t super excited to prepare for the next speaking engagement. I didn’t want to do anything because I was too outcome focused. The growth mindset doesn’t think like this. The growth mindset values the process and the whole as a journey. 

Dweck says, “ The growth mindset allows people to value what they’re doing regardless of the outcome . (It’s) tackling problems, charting new courses, working on important issues. Maybe they haven’t found the cure for cancer (yet), but the search (is) deeply meaningful.”

Fixed Mindsets RUN from evaluations

The fixed mindset runs away from challenges because they see it as an evaluation. Are you going to pass or fail and if you fail then that means you’re a failure. They spend their time proving again and again how good they are. Defending their title and feeling threatened when anyone else has good qualities too. They’re threatened because if they’re not the best then they’re not anything. They’re lacking, they’re not good enough.

Judging, blaming, gossiping

This is also the breeding grounds for judging, gossiping, and blaming others. People with the fixed mindset have to prove their worth and when they feel threatened and insecure they have to find a way to put you down so they can feel elevated again. Carol says, “people with the fixed mindset try to repair their self-esteem after a failure by assigning blame or making excuses.” 

You’ve heard these before or maybe you’ve used them before, “She’s only able to do that because they make millions a year and she can hire out help. But I have to do slave away and do it all myself and it’s hard because I have x,y,and z” – The fixed mindset has to put the other threatening person down so they can feel like they’re back on top and then they excuse themselves because they had all these other obstacles in the way. 

Confidence is TRUST in yourself

 But the growth mindset doesn’t think like this. According to Alyssa Dver, co-founder of the American Confidence Institute, true confidence lies in the certainty you have about your decisions and your willingness to stand by yourself through thick and thin.”

This includes agreeing to give a talk and allowing yourself to enjoy the process. It’s not about the outcome, especially since we can’t predict how others are going to react. The reality is that you could be the best speaker and still there are going to be people that choose to not listen to your message, that choose to comment about it, that choose to create something negative about it. 

While the fixed mindset stresses about those few people and about the outcome of what they might think, the growth mindset is enjoying the process. They love to research, think about, prepare and then they give their address feeling proud and happy that they created something like this.

It’s not about what others think, it’s about who they became in the process.

Dweck says, “Becoming is better than being” 

Another facet to the growth mindset and confidence is this, 

Confidence to welcome change

True self-confidence is “the courage to be open—to welcome change and new ideas regardless of their source.” Real self-confidence is not reflected in a title, an expensive suit, a fancy car, or a series of acquisitions. It is reflected in your mindset: your readiness to grow”

Think about that. Are you open to learning? Do you have a desire to grow? Are you willing to believe that it’s possible to become? Are you willing to focus on the journey and less about the result? Do you welcome change? When someone new accepts a calling and they do it completely different than the last person do you make it a difficult transition thinking that, “this isn’t the right way to do it. Or so in so did it like this and it was so much better.”? Or can you be open to welcoming change? Welcome new ideas?

No matter what, you’ll be okay

Confidence is being able to trust in yourself and in your abilities. It’s trusting that no matter what changes happen, that you’re going to be okay because you always have your own back. You’ll make it okay. This is a defining trait of a growth mindset. Knowing that you’re going to be okay, that no matter what you’re not stuck, there’s options, there’s possibilities, and that maybe this change is exactly what you needed. 

It’s looking at things and people and yourself through a lens where growth happens. Where things are not stuck or fixed or immovable. It’s looking at people and seeing what they’re capable of becoming. It’s looking at things as information and deciding what you want to make of that information. And it’s seeing you through what you are becoming and not what you are now as all you’re going to be. 

Proving instead of creating

I read a quote that said once that confidence is silent, insecurities are loud. There are times when we have to talk about ourselves, our accomplishments, our activities and we hardly let the other person or people speak because we have to prove that we’re good, worthy, and valuable but Dweck says, 

“Why waste time proving over and over how great you are, when you could be getting better? Why hide deficiencies instead of overcoming them? Why look for friends or partners who will just shore up your self-esteem instead of ones who will also challenge you to grow? And why seek out the tried and true, instead of experiences that will stretch you? The passion for stretching yourself and sticking to it, even (or especially) when it’s not going well, is the hallmark of the growth mindset. This is the mindset that allows people to thrive during some of the most challenging times in their lives.” 

Lacking Vision

So many people feel defeated, stuck, and discouraged when challenges arise and it’s because they lack the vision of what could be, of what they could become through this challenge.

I hope you’re not beating yourself up if you’ve related to some fixed mindset qualities. It’s not bad if you are. It’s good actually to notice and become aware of. We all are a mixture of growth and fixed and you can’t change anything unless you’re aware of it first. So start today just becoming aware of what you’re doing, if you’re focused on proving yourself. If you find yourself feeling like you’re not enough, if you’re judging, blaming, or making excuses.

We can change

Then remember that we can change. Our mindsets thankfully aren’t fixed. We can learn how to adopt the growth mindset and learn how to enjoy the process of becoming. The goal isn’t to get rid of bad fixed mindsets. It’s all about awareness. Listen to what Carol says about this:

“If we “ban” the fixed mindset, we will surely create false growth-mindsets. But if we watch carefully for our fixed-mindset triggers, we can begin the true journey to a growth mindset.”

Not sure what your triggers are? See how you respond to challenges. 


Do you feel overly anxious when you’re presented with a challenge?  Does  your inner voice warn you to not engage? Don’t even try? When people aren’t listening to you or doing what you want them to, Do you feel incompetent or defeated? Do you look for an excuse? 

When people give you feedback of any kind, Do you become defensive, angry, or crushed instead of interested in learning from the feedback? When someone else is better than you in certain areas, Do you feel envious and threatened, or do you feel eager to learn from them?

Remember confidence isn’t about already being perfect. Perfection doesn’t make us confident. Confidence is knowing and embracing all the parts of you and being able to trust in yourself and in your abilities. It means that you recognize that maybe you are a bit of a fixed mindset in some areas and it’s okay, it also means that you trust yourself enough to know that you’re going to work through it, that you’re going to work through it and learn how to become more of a growth mindset.

What’s going to help you show up as your BEST SELF?

It means that you’re willing to look at yourself and more importantly what you’re thinking and just allowing yourself to be aware of what’s happening without labeling it good or bad. It’s just information and then deciding what you want to do next. What’s going to help you show up as your best self? Which mindset feels better to you? 

Dweck says that, “We like to think of our champions and idols as superheroes who were born different from us. We don’t like to think of them as relatively ordinary people who made themselves extraordinary.” 

But it can be inspiring to know that they people that you look up to, that are and do extraordinary things created that outcome for themselves and if they can do, there’s hope that you can do it too. You may feel ordinary. You may think you’re lacking in some areas. But I implore you to be open to the possibility that you can develop a growth mindset and that through that mindset you can become one of your own heroes.

You can become extraordinary. 

Remember, becoming is better than being.

I love Carol’s works. She has a ted talk about this concept and it’s amazing. You should all go watch it and for sure buy the book. Mark it up, read it, highlight it, then buy it as Christmas gifts for all your friends and family. It’s so good.


One tool that was really helpful for me in bridging the gap between my fixed mindset and my growth mindset was the power of neutrality. It was when I saw myself and aware of my fixed mindset thinking and I could see the land of growth but there was this gaping chasm and I didn’t know how to get from one side to the other, until I learned a really simple but powerful tool that took me there one step at a time.

This is power of neutral thoughts.

It meant going from thoughts like, “I’m terrible and a failure”  which feels terrible when you think it , to one step in the growth direction. I couldn’t believe that I was an optimist yet but I could believe that it was possible that maybe I wasn’t terrible. When you can just think that thought, the thought that, I’m a human being. It’s not really good or bad. It’s just neutral. It’s just there. Your brain doesn’t argue with it because it’s true. And when you focus on believing this thought it distances you from the original offending thought.

One step at a time

Then you can take another step by thinking, “Maybe it’s possible that I could learn to be an optimist.” Again, not super happy but it’s not negative either. This time instead of feeling just neutral you feel hopeful. Like, yeah, maybe. Then from there you can try on the thought, “I have optimistic thoughts sometimes and that if I have them sometimes then maybe I could think and believe them more often.” This time it’s more than hope, it’s calling on your past as evidence to  help prove to you that you can grow that it’s possible that this isn’t such a distant daydream after all.

 Each thought branches one after another. It takes you one step closer to where you want to go. It takes you from a fixed mindset and one thought at a time to learning how to have a growth mindset. 

Want more?

I have a freebie for a limited time when you subscribe to my email list -which is awesome btw and you’re all going to want to be in that cool club. Go to my website and click on subscribe and you’ll get a video talking about this tool and a pdf file to help you really dive deeper into this work.


You can be extraordinary. You can grow and become and truly create a life that you love. It begins with awareness, it continues with baby steps and the power of neutral thoughts, and then it flourishes with the growth mindset and learning to love the journey.

Okay, all, you’re so amazing to be here with me. Let me know all about your journey into the growth mindset and I hope you have an amazing week!

Links to Carol’s TED Talk: Click HERE to watch

Link to buy Carol’s book, MINDSET: Click HERE

(I have NO affiliation with her and am not PAID to endorse her or her works – I’m just a BIG fan and believer in this work)



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