A Fixed vs. Growth Mindset & The Enneagram

Have you heard of a fixed vs. a growth mindset?

This concept is  Based on the research of Carol Dweck. 

Who Studied students – she sought to understand why some students seemed to bounce back from failure while others were devastated.

Dweck learned that the students who believed they could get smarter over time were more likely to bounce back after failure than those who believed that they were as smart as they’d ever be. 

So, the theory is that people tend to fall into one camp or the other – either we believe that people are capable of growth and change or we think we are given a certain amount of talent and skills and we just have to work with what we’ve got. 

And I know there are some of you out there thinking, “I know that we can improve” while also struggling to show yourself that’s true when the moment of your personal failure arises. 

Those with a growth mindset are more likely to succeed as they believe they can improve so they put in the work to get better while those with a fixed mindset may give up at the first sign of adversity. 

Meaning – there’s a clear goal here – to possess a growth mindset. 

What’s fun is that neuroscience backs up the fact that we are in fact malleable. We can build new neuropathways when we change our behavior to match the growth we want to do!!! 

This is HUGE. We are not as talented, as kind, as qualified or as smart as we ever will be. We can continue to improve over time.

This study is really helpful for us as adults as we start doing any kind of lifestyle changes because failure is inevitable. We need to prepare for the reality that failure is going to happen.

The question isn’t about whether or not we will fail – instead it’s how will I respond to failure once it inevitably arises? 

Do I believe that I can improve or do I believe that I am already as good as I’ll ever be?

So, we know what a fixed mindset is – we know that we want to have a growth mindset. We also know that developing a growth mindset is possible – so where do we start? 

Simple. We treat input as data not diagnosis. 

When something doesn’t work. When we try to set a boundary and it’s not received well, when we launch a product and it doesn’t sell, when we try to date and it doesn’t work out – we take in the information – we note what didn’t work and we make a plan for moving forward differently. 

When we have a fixed mindset and those things happen we think to ourselves, “I’m not good in relationships.” “I’m not a good business owner…” 

Whatever it is that you believe about yourself will be what you achieve.

Just keep showing up. 

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I wanted to talk about what having a fixed mindset around personal growth can look like by enneagram type. So often, people complain to me about others using the enneagram to validate their behaviors. Meaning we find our enneagram type and say, “well I do that because I’m a seven” instead of exploring if that behavior is serving you or not. 

That is a fixed mindset. The idea that we are who we are and that is who we will always be. The trouble with that is that’s not the intended use of the enneagram. The intended use is to show you that it’s not who you have to be. You get to choose who you are in any given moment by how you show up. 

In my book that’s coming out in October ( the enneagram letters available fro pre-order now ) I define our enneagram type as pressure. The expectation we carry for who we have to be in order to be accepted, safe or loved. Do we have to be perfect, easy to get along with, strong, happy and so on. So if we think about this is terms of today’s conversation – a fixed mindset says that we have to constantly carry that pressure and a growth mindset says that we can work toward putting that pressure down. 

SO – let’s talk about each enneagram type and what that can look like. 

1 – pressure to be perfect and morally above reproach 

// a fixed mindset says that they have to be hyper vigilant to the details of life so that nothing falls through the cracks. It says that they have to be the adult in the room and make sure things don’t get out of hand. 

// a growth mindset says that they can release control and allow things to be excellent without having to make them flawless. It says that sometimes they can leave things undone that have low stakes. It let’s them play hooky and allows them the space for someone else to be in charge of the execution even if it won’t be done the way they’d like for it to be. 

2 – pressure to be likable and loved. 

// a fixed mindset says that they are loved for what they do and if they stop doing those things the people in their life will leave. It says that they have to be constantly overworked and exhausted to show how much love they deserve. It keeps them in ignorance of their own wants and needs because looking at them means they are selfish. 

// a growth mindset says that they are safe to say ‘no’ and people will still want to be in relationship to them. It says that the people who would leave because they start to set boundaries are not very good friends anyway. A growth mindset says that while boundaries are scary right now they get easier the more you do them so we need to start practicing. 

3 – pressure to be successful or appear successful. 

// a fixed mindset says that we need to keep up our very expensive lifestyle so that no-one thinks we are failing even if it means burning ourselves out in the process. It tells us that we are loved for what we do and how much we accomplish so we can’t rest or we may become repulsive to the people around us. 

// a growth mindset says that we can set goals based on how we want to feel in our life not for how our life will appear to others. It defines success by how we experience our life not by what metrics we are meeting. A growth mindset tells us that people aren’t our competition but instead can be great collaborators as we seek to do more of what we love. It also allows time for us to rest because we are so much more than what we do – we are living breathing beings that deserve nourishment. That need nourishment in order to thrive. 

4 – pressure to be significant

// a fixed mindset says that we are as talented as we will ever be the first time we try something new. That we are either immediately great or we are destined to be average. Just another artist in a sea of monotony. It tells us that we need someone to come in and take care of things for us in order to do anything we want to do. That we aren’t strong enough to do it on our own. 

// a growth mindset says that we get great by pushing through the season of being average. That we keep practicing and use each mistake as information for how we’d like to be better in our next attempt. It reminds us that we are the rescuer. That the one we’ve been waiting for is here and has always been here – we just need to trust that we can handle it. 

5 – pressure to be informed and maintain our privacy 

// a fixed mindset says that if we give people a little bit of ourselves they will consume us so we must hide our emotions and our needs to avoid being overtaken. It tells us that we are as abundant as we will ever be so we need to preserve our resources and limit financial and energetic risks to avoid depletion. It tells us that our needs are overwhelming to other people so we have to take care of ourselves and minimize our needs so we never have to ask for help. It tells us that we will never be informed enough to speak as an expert on a topic that we’ve spent years researching. 

// a growth mindset recognizes that we may have some relationships that overwhelm us but that we can communicate our needs clearly and effectively to avoid confusion. Letting them know what we are available for while also maintaining an appropriate amount of boundaries. It allows us to see opportunities for replenishing our energy and our resources instead of only preserving what we currently have. It shows us opportunities to share our knowledge while also feeling safe to say when we don’t know something. It recognizes that there is always more to learn and that doesn’t have to keep you from sharing what you know. 

6 – pressure to be prepared and loyal. 

// a fixed mindset says that knowing someone your entire life or for a lot of years means you need to forgive and forget over and over again no matter how the relationship feels to you. It says that you need to stay in the safety zone even if you find yourself constantly complaining about how much you don’t like it. 

// a growth mindset tells you that you deserve love and respect in all of your relationships and are allowed to grow and change as a person even if that pulls you away from people you’ve been close to your entire life. It tells you that you can take a leap of faith and if it doesn’t work out that that is also OK. It reminds you that risks and big beautiful life aren’t just for those comfortable with risk it’s for everyone willing to take the chance no matter how scared they may be. 

7 – pressure to be happy and fulfilled. 

// a fixed mindset tells us that we should keep our negative emotions to ourselves because noone wants to be around a bummer. It tells us that we should be grateful for what we have and that our sadness or anger is a symptom of not being positive enough. A fixed mindset tells us that if something doesn’t feel good in a moment that it’s time to move onto something that will feel better. It tells us that choosing something means limiting our options and therefore preventing us from being fully alive. 

// a growth mindset invites us to share the fullness of our humanity as a path toward deeper connection. It invites us to get comfortable with our heart center so that we can give and receive the fullness of love. It reminds us that it’s normal to be sad or angry and sometimes circumstances warrant that response. It allows us space to let the feelings come and go so we can recognize that we will not be stuck there forever. It allows us the resilience to stay even when things don’t make us feel good because we recognize that everything good is something worth fighting for that will inevitable bring up some kind of negative emotion and if we leave every time we feel bad we will leave before things get great. 

8 – pressure to be strong 

// a fixed mindset tells us that we need to be constantly on guard because people will use our vulnerability against us. It tells us that the weak get eaten alive and only the strong survive. It tells us that we are responsible for the well being of our family and the most vulnerable among us. It tells us that we have to fight for our needs to be met. It tells us that rest is for the weak and we have to push forward even when we are tired. 

// a growth mindset allows us the space to open up to reveal the truth beneath our blunt honesty – the vulnerable part of us that we try to protect with strength. It allows us to get our needs met through vulnerability and not force. It reminds us that it is safe to allow others to care for you and it’s not infantilizing to be nurtured by others. It opens you up to listening to the signals that your body is sending you about when it’s tired, hungry, scared or bored and gives you the opportunity to care for it instead of using it as a machine to achieve your goals. 

9 – pressure to be easy to get along with 

// a fixed mindset says that you don’t know what who you are or what you want. It tells you that you don’t know how to do the things you’re interested or even where to start. It tells you that others have strong opinions and you’re easy going so you can just go with what they want. It tells you that being vocal about your opinions and ideology will push people away. It tells you that the comfort of others is more important than your happiness or safety. 

// a growth mindset invites you to take the steps to get to know who you are and what you want. It empowers you to seek out the information you need to do the things you want to do. It reminds you that speaking up takes practice and you’ll get better every time you try. It allows you to let people leave if they don’t like the truth of who you are so that you can actively seek relationships that validate and accept you in your fullness. It prioritizes your safety and happiness and knows that you don’t have to hurt others to have what you want in life. Both can happen at the same time. 

July 20, 2022

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