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Why Is Having a Growth Mindset Important?

An individual’s mindset greatly influences their likelihood of success and how they carry out activities in their daily lives (Dweck 213). As Dweck (213) highlights, there are two major types of mindsets that individuals can have: a fixed mindset and a growth mindset. Individuals with a permanent mindset deem that fundamental qualities like creativity, intelligence, and talent are predetermined traits, meaning that individuals can barely improve (Dweck 2143). People with a growth mindset, on the other hand, believe that fundamental qualities like talent, creativity and intelligence are improvable, and one can continually develop them with time through specific training, dedication, hard work and other improvements (Dweck 215). A growth mindset is an essential skill, especially in children, because it motivates them to work hard (Dweck 216). Besides that, children with a positive attitude understand dedication is a significant factor that is required to improve their physical and mental abilities. Therefore, improvements in the children’s growth mindset may result in exceptionally positive academic, financial, physical and emotional success outcomes (Dweck 220). This argumentative paper addresses factors that contribute most to success by drawing insights from various sources and research findings of scholarly writers.

Starting as a teacher of mathematics in high school and middle school before becoming a professor, Angela Duckworth wanted to find out whether effort affected an individual’s success (Duckworth 3). She sought to understand why certain people succeeded in life whereas others failed immensely (Duckworth 4). From her observation, Duckworth states that a person’s success is not dependent on IQ scores, good luck, intelligence or one’s capacity to learn quickly and fast but rather depends on what she referred to as ‘Grit’ (Duckworth 5). Grit, in this case, refers to a person sticking with things for an extended period until they can master them (Duckworth 5). As such, it represents being passionate and persevering to achieve long-time goals, thereby enabling human beings to stick to their pledge (Duckworth 15).

In her research, Duckworth suggests that grit might be as important as intelligence when determining success and high achievements (Duckworth 35). Duckworth’s finding is significant because intelligence had been considered a significant contributor to win for a long time. Duckworth argues that one can measure a person’s intelligence within a short while as it is the best-measured attribute in human psychology (Duckworth 36). However, being intelligent does not directly determine a person’s success. To resolve this, Duckworth conducted a study on students who administered intelligence tests. She discovered that students with lower scores had more grit than the smarter ones (Duckworth 45). Based on the results from the study participants, Duckworth suggests that intelligence is not a determinant of success because less intelligent people work harder. Through determination, they can achieve success (Duckworth 47). People with grit have a growth mindset, and as such, the grittier a person is, the more likely they are to succeed (Duckworth 56).

Although Duckworth did not clearly state what makes one person grittier than another, she argues that people can learn grit (Duckworth 57). Human qualities such as intelligence have over time proven to be affected by numerous factors, including an individual’s environment, and as such, people tend to change with time (Duckworth 66). Therefore, like other aspects of a person’s life, grit can increase and reduce depending on their environment. Besides, one can be grittier in one part of life and not in others. Here, she provides the example of how a student may be exceptionally disciplined while practising basketball and yet become very frustrated if they cannot solve math problems in class (Duckworth 67). Therefore since grit can be learned, she advises students to have a growth mindset that will propel them to become grittier and thus become successful

Researchers and philosophers initially believed that intelligence could not be changed due to its fixed nature (Dweck 20). However, this has been disputed, following recent neuroscience research indicating how the brain continuously changes (Dweck 24). In her book on mindsets, Dweck shares the dissimilarity between growth and fixed mindsets and how they affect success. According to Dweck, individuals with fixed mindset believe that aptitude is fixed, whereas people with growth mindset believe that aptitude is developed and can continuously improve (Dweck 45). Dweck argues that people with fixed mindsets focus on how others judge them, and as such, their success revolves around proving how talented or intelligent they are (Dweck 58). On the other hand, people with growth mindsets focus on how they can improve themselves; they not only seek challenges but also thrive on them to succeed (Dweck 60).

However, Dweck’s research on growth mindset and fixed mindset has been accompanied by significant criticism from various scholars. From their study examining the extent to which growth mindsets are important in academic success, Sisk et al. ( 549) dispute Dweck’s (34) findings on the relationship between academic success and one’s perspective. According to Dweck (34), the human brain can continually form new connections. Through her theory of neuroplasticity, she argues that people can adopt growth mindsets at any point in life. Through learning and practice, a person with a growth mindset can become successful even in academics. Sisk et al. (550), however, dispute these claims.

Sisk et al. (550) dispute Dweck’s claims that people with a growth mindset are expected to experience success more, including academic achievements. In contrast, those with a fixed mindset tend to be less successful. To examine the extent to which interventions improve growth mindsets in students, thereby improving their academic success, Sisk et al. (555) examine the relationship between academic success and growth mindset. From their research, Sisk et al. (557) argue that although students achieved success, the statistics collected on the intervention were too small and are not practically significant. However, some of the results from Sisk et al. (557) research correspond with those of Dweck (56). For example, students from poor backgrounds and those at risk academically benefitted from the growth mindset interventions.

In his book Outliers, Gladwell tells the story of success, and throughout, he talks about the 10 000-Hour Rule (Reads 2). As cited by Reads (2), Gladwell views the 10,000-Hour Rule as the solution when it comes to the achievement of top-notch expertise in any skill. As he puts it, practising something the right way repeatedly and for thousands of hours is what makes them successful. For example, most people have become successful by constantly doing something correctly for 10 000 hours. To come up with the 10,000- Hour Rule, Gladwell draws insights from other scholars, such as the study by Anders Ericsson, which provides the basis on which Gladwell, as cited by Reads (5), develops his 10,000-Hour Rule.

As cited by Reads (13), Gladwell argues that for one to achieve greatness, they have to invest a great deal of time in practice. He proposes that the key to success for all given fields lies in the 10,000-Hour Rule. As such, success is a matter of trial. Thus, a person who practices a particular task for a long time is more likely to succeed at that task. To support his argument, Gladwell, as cited by Reads (15), offers specific examples such as that of an English rock band called the Beatles. According to Gladwell, the rock band became successful and world-famous because they followed the ten 000-Hour Rule by playing and practising non-stop for 10 000 hours in their initial years (Reads 55). Therefore, as Gladwell argues, true success and expertise in all skills depend on one practice and for one to succeed, they must follow the 10,000-Hour Rule (Reads 56).

Different scholars offer different arguments on what contributes to success. In attempts to identify whether effort determined a person’s success, Duckworth came up with research on grit, which she referred to as a person’s willingness to stick with a specific task for a long term to gain mastery (Duckworth Duckworth80). Unlike the traditional view that associated a person’s success with intelligence, good luck and IQ scores, Duckworth’s grit associates success with perseverance and passion (Duckworth 8). To understand what contributes to success, Dweck, on the other hand, focused on mindsets (Dweck 20). According to Dweck, individuals with growth mindsets are more probable to be successful than those with a fixed mindset. She disputes that people with a growth mindset are more likely to focus on improving themselves through repeated trials until they grow and thrive on challenges, unlike those with a fixed mindset (Dweck 223). Dweck’s argument has, however, been disputed by certain scholars who argue that growth mindset interventions have an insignificant impact on a person’s success ((Sisk 551). On the other hand, Gladwell focuses on the 10,000-Hour Rule as a significant determinant of success. The 10,000-Hour Rule states that one has invested a lot of time practising a specific skill to gain expertise (Reads 2).

One common aspect is present in all these arguments. That aspect is having a growth mindset. With a growth mindset, an individual can follow the 10,000 Hour Rule and attain grit and become successful through passion and persistence. People with a fixed mindset believe that fundamental qualities like intelligence, talent, and creativity are unimprovable. As such, they do not think that these attributes are improvable. Thus, they are doubtful to apply the 10,000-Hour Rule and grit in their pursuit of success. Therefore, to be successful in life, they must have a growth mindset that propels them to become persistent and committed to the success journey through practice, grit and by following the 10,000-Hour Rule.


Duckworth, Angela. Grit: The Power of Passion and Perseverance. Simon & Schuster, 2016: 1-88

Dweck, Carol. “What having a “growth mindset” actually means.” Harvard Business Review 13 (2016): 213-226.

Dweck, Carol S. Mindset: The New Psychology of Success. Random House Digital, 2008: 20-280

Reads, Ninja. Summary of Outliers: The Story of Success by Malcolm Gladwell: Key Takeaways & Analysis Included. 2020: 1-65

Sisk, Victoria F., et al. “To what extent and under which circumstances are growth mindsets important to academic achievement? Two meta-analyses.” Psychological science 29.4 (2018): 549-571.


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