Growth vs Fixed Mindset: What Life Coaches Need to Know

Discover how mindset work applies to life coaching, and how you can support your clients in shifting their thought processes about what's possible.

The Everything Life Coaching Podcast, featuring Lumia Coaching founders John Kim and Noelle Cordeaux, is a deep dive into the experience and business of being a life coach. Subscribe to get new episodes weekly!

Cultivating A Growth Mindset

The right mindset can make or break your life coaching 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 explore the difference between having a fixed and growth mindset. These terms were first coined by Stanford psychologist Carol Dweck in 1999, and since that time her findings have been used in a variety of contexts.

What Is A Fixed Mindset?

A fixed mindset is the belief that our skills, intellect, and talent are set and unchangeable. It’s this idea that you live with a ceiling; with a limit. It’s captured in beliefs such as: “I’ll stick to what I know,” or, “‘Either I’m good at something or I'm not.”

For folks with this kind of mindset, things are binary. 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 willing 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 value here at Lumia Coaching, and an important component of successful coaching in general. Setting the right mindset is not just about adjusting our way of thinking. It’s also about allowing ourselves to explore and to be open to whatever options arise from that exploration.

How To Adjust Your Thinking

Begin by cultivating an awareness of your own mindset. This is the very first step towards change, improvement, or growth. In order to do this, take a careful look at your reactions. Notice how you respond to things that happen, and circumstances in life. Once you've observed a clear pattern of how you react, you can easily pinpoint the type of mindset you have. If you see evidence of a fixed mindset, there's an opportunity for you to play with changing your response.

Next up is practice. How we think and respond to life isn't something that changes overnight. To truly make the shift, practice, practice, practice. When you find yourself thinking in black and white terms, challenge yourself to find the shades of gray. If you have a consistently negative interpretation of events, ask yourself if there are other possible ways of seeing the situation at hand.

Mindset Work in Coaching

When coaching a client, how can you determine if your client is operating from a fixed mindset? By paying attention to what they’re saying, and looking for patterns in their perspective. Some tells include:

  • 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 whether your client is operating from a fixed mindset. 

Once you notice it, what do you do next?

You begin by validating your client.

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. 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 alter how they think, which in turn impacts their way of life. Doing so takes time and dedication.

How can you help a client shift from a fixed mindset to adopting growth-oriented strategies and beliefs? 

It can be tricky to coach someone with a fixed mindset. You may experience defensiveness, or a fixation on the correctness of their own thoughts and ideas. But once the idea of shifting mindset is on the table - and your client agrees they'd like to move in this direction - it’s your job to work with your client's resistance and strategize with them as a non-judgemental partner. To that end, here are some tools you can share with your clients:

  • Learning to hear your "mindset voice." This may take a while! Invite your client to pay attention to their internal commentary, and draw their awareness to whether it’s fixed or growth.
  • Identify the thought (whether it’s fixed or growth) and flip it to see what happens. Encourage your client to play with seeing the world from a different perspective to discover where they have the power to choose their interpretation of circumstances and events
  • Act in line with your desired mindset. Challenge your client to identify actions that would reflect a growth mindset. Moving from thought to action is where real growth occurs.

Want To Be A Lumia Coach?

A lot of talented people like you dream of having a coaching business, but aren’t quite sure how to get there. We train and certify adventurous coaches, making sure you’ve got all you need to build a business you love and transform lives, on your terms. If you're ready to learn more, come check out Lumia Life Coach Training

Lumia Coaching: Vibrant community. Evidence-based life coach training. Lifetime support.

[Free Guide] 6 Steps to Start Coaching Today

Thank you! Your submission has been received!
Oops! Something went wrong while submitting the form.
Lumia is accredited by the ICF as a Level 2 Pathway Program. Want to learn more about the ICF credential requirements? Click here for further details.