Fixed vs Growth Mindset

Fixed vs Growth Mindset

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. I have mentioned a few times in past blogs fixed versus growth mindsets and it seems to be a topic that many people are curious about (which is awesome!). At The I in Team series, we strongly value a growth mindset and believe that a growth mindset is imperative to securing your positive influence.

The growth and fixed mindsets are terms coined by Stanford psychologist, Dr. Carol Dweck, who studies human motivation through psychology and sociology. Her book, Mindset: The New Psychology of Success, expands upon her theory of the growth versus fixed mindset. The brain is just like any other muscle in the body; it can be grown and developed with some patience, hard work, and mindfulness. However, if you convince yourself that you cannot grow your mind, then you won’t.

Fixed Mindset

Those who experience a fixed mindset believe that they cannot grow. They believe their abilities and intelligence are stagnant; essentially, that we are born with what we have, and we can’t do anything about it. A fixed mindset becomes a vicious cycle, one that is difficult, but certainly not impossible, to break. There are several factors at play in this cycle. It starts with the belief that you cannot grow, learn, or develop. Enter: Confirmation Bias. Once you believe something, your mind will look for information to confirm that belief and reject information that doesn’t fit. So, anytime someone with a fixed mindset fails or doesn’t live up to their or others’ expectations, their minds reaffirm that they cannot grow, learn, or develop. This pushes those experiencing a fixed mindset further into this belief.

Another reason confirmation bias plays such a huge role in the fixed mindset is because those who have a fixed mindset put limitations on themselves. They develop learned helplessness because of this belief. They cannot recognize their own deficiencies, meaning they cannot correct them. You would need to believe that you can learn and grow to correct behavior, so those experiencing a fixed mindset cannot even admit to themselves that they have faults because that would require them to do something about it.

Qualities of the Fixed Mindset

Below are some qualities of those who are currently experiencing a fixed mindset:

  • Believes that failure is an end
  • Very resistant to change
  • Rejects new ideas immediately
  • Views feedback and criticism as a personal attack
  • Less likely to take creative risks and be innovative
  • Avoids problems out of fear of failure
  • Documents and attaches self to past achievements without striving for new ones
  • Lacks open-hearted kindness, meaning they feel that encouraging others to succeed or be happy could make themselves look bad in comparison, so they avoid empowering others or being genuinely happy for their success


Those who are experiencing a growth mindset are, essentially, the opposite to those who are experiencing a fixed mindset. These are the individuals who believe, and know, that they can grow, learn, and develop. They recognize the brain as a muscle that can be worked. When individuals experience a growth mindset, they believe that they can master any skill or talent as long as they put in the effort to do so. Like the fixed mindset, confirmation bias plays a huge role here as well. When individuals believe that they can grow, learn, and develop continually throughout their entire lifetime—no matter their age, abilities, talents, skills, or intelligence—they perpetuate this belief through confirmation bias.

When those who experience a growth mindset fail, they view it as an opportunity to learn and try again. They do not become discouraged or use negative self-talk to bring themselves down. They uplift themselves, and through their confirmation bias they solidify their belief that they can grow, learn, and develop. Individuals who have a growth mindset make excellent leaders as they are the ones who are continually working on themselves and their positive influence. They know that they cannot be their best influence if they believe that they cannot grow. Additionally, those who experience a growth mindset believe that others can grow too, often encouraging others to take on challenges, fail, view things in different lights, and develop themselves.

Qualities of the Growth Mindset

Below are some qualities of those who are currently experiencing a growth mindset:

  • Believes that effort can cultivate new intelligence, skills, and talents
  • Views failure as an opportunity
  • More likely to take creative risks and innovate
  • Embraces problems as opportunities to learn
  • Views feedback as a chance to improve
  • Views life as an exciting journey for continuous growth and practice
  • Has open-hearted kindness, meaning they encourage others to succeed and find happiness while feeling genuine happiness for another person’s success and happiness

Switching Between Fixed and Growth Mindsets

It is absolutely possible to switch between these mindsets. While it is less likely for those who have a growth mindset to switch to a fixed mindset, it is possible. There are circumstances in life that could lead someone to break a belief in themselves and stop growing, learning, and developing. More likely is that someone would switch from a fixed mindset to a growth mindset. The tricky part is that nobody can do this except for the individual. By this, I mean that those who are experiencing a fixed mindset will need to muster up the courage to face their ego and say they are wrong to believe that they cannot grow, learn, and develop. Developing positive self-talk will be imperative to moving from a fixed to a growth mindset. Those with a growth mindset can help those experiencing a fixed mindset by providing guidance, insight, and encouragement, but until those experiencing the fixed mindset change their own internal self-talk, they won’t change. It all starts with you and only you have the power to change yourself and your mind.


Our world is full of individuals experiencing either a fixed or growth mindset. I’ll leave it to you to decide which is better, but I certainly know which I think is better to perpetuate a positive influence. At The I in Team series, we believe that cultivating the most positive experience for yourself and those around you includes believing in yourself and encouraging others. If you don’t believe in yourself, you’re tearing yourself down. If you don’t encourage others, you harbor feelings of resentment. These do not put any positivity into our world. You deserve to enjoy life, to laugh at mistakes, and to get to know yourself and how far you can go. Aristotle once said, “Knowing yourself is the beginning of all wisdom.” If you don’t allow yourself to grow, how can you truly know yourself?

Top 6 Successful Leadership Qualities

Top 6 Successful Leadership Qualities

Hi, team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team Series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. If you think about current and past leaders of organizations, do any of them possess the same successful leadership qualities? Several studies have shown that leaders are different as much as they are similar. However, there are six qualities that are shown to be possessed by the most successful leaders. The leaders who possess the below six qualities run organizations with team members who are more driven, creative, enthusiastic, productive, and positive.

Being Goal Driven

Leaders should be results oriented; this is how organizations thrive and strive. Successful leaders who are goal driven do two things:

1) They set and achieve their own goals

2) They help others set and achieve their own goals

Part of being a successful leader is ensuring everyone on your team is aware of your organization’s goals, as well as encouraging them to set their own goals. If their goals align with the organization’s goals, that’s great! When everyone on the team is aware of the current goals and is striving to meet those goals through their own goal setting, organizations will almost certainly succeed in their industry. Leaders must motivate their team to set and achieve their goals, as well as giving them the tools necessary to do so.

Having Excellent Communication

Employing excellent communication skills is imperative for any leader, especially if they are going to successfully aid in their team’s goal setting and achievement. Leaders who know how to communicate with a diverse set of individuals while ensuring everyone stays on the same page requires practice, patience, creativity, and energy. One of the most powerful tools successful leaders have is their spoken word, privately and face-to-face, with an employee. One-on-one communication followed up with supportive action can reap tremendous results. Consider establishing an open-door policy, if you don’t already have one; if you need focus time, schedule that time for yourself consistently and communicate to your team why you need the focus time and when you will be taking it.

Empowering Others

Empowering others, in part, means making them feel good and like they are valued. Some people possess the quality of being able to transfer positive energy to others, thus, empowering them. Behavioral experts refer to this as positive energy transference, and this brings out the best in others. When your team feels empowered in their abilities and understands that they are valued in the organization, they will strive to meet their and the organization’s goals. Successful leaders can empower employees by getting to know them, understanding their dreams, and helping them link their dreams to the organization’s vision, mission, goals, or values.

Having Empathy

Having empathy for your team aids in successful leaders’ ability to communicate and empower their team, and vice versa. Empathy is the ability to recognize, categorize, and understand an emotion another individual is feeling, as well as being able to communicate or demonstrate that understanding in a way that makes the experience positive for the team member. One of the keys here is avoiding toxic positivity and not making the conversation about yourself. Show your team you care about them by being empathetic to their needs, feelings, goals, and current situation.

Being Pragmatic

While it may seem that being pragmatic goes against having empathy, this is not true. In fact, being pragmatic can aid successful leaders in their pursuit of empathy and empowering their team. When leaders understand that part of human nature is emotion, coupled with the fact that life is messy, they can use pragmatism to communicate more effectively. Being pragmatic doesn’t mean doing away with emotion, it means the opposite. It means taking into account all the variables, understanding your team, and making decisions that are practical. Being pragmatic combined with empathy is a step towards high emotional intelligence. To be practical, leaders must have a wholistic understanding of their team.

Having Structure & Being Organized

Without structure or being organized, leaders couldn’t possibly create successful organizations. Leaders must be structured in their work, remaining consistent and organized to maintain order within the team. If leaders can help their team remain structured and organized as well, their team members will stay on target for deadlines, be more likely to meet their goals, and remain productive.


Successful leaders are ones who employ positive habits for both their own and their team’s benefit. The above six qualities are shared by nearly all successful leaders. To be a positive influence on yourself and your team, you must continually grow, learn, and develop positive habits. If you are lacking any of the above, identify what you would like to work on and ask for outside accountability to help you develop your goal. If you require leadership coaching, contact our team at IA Business Advisors. We would love to help you find, be, and build your positive influence.

Avoiding Toxic Positivity

Avoiding Toxic Positivity

Hi team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team Series, where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. A few weeks ago, IA’s Gratitude Group discussed toxic positivity and its effects. Toxic positivity is the belief and pressure to ignore negative or painful emotions, putting a positive spin on even the hardest life events. Toxic positivity often leads to emotional repression, forcing individuals to believe that they should feel ashamed for feeling negative emotions or like nobody understands them. Avoiding toxic positivity can be beneficial for you and people around you. While it’s okay to have a positive attitude and outlook, ignoring the other side of emotions can be detrimental to your health.

Internal Toxic Positivity

Internal toxic positivity is when you don’t allow yourself to feel and accept your emotions, often telling yourself to stay positive. This is typically due to shame for feeling the emotion. Emotions are part of the human experience, so to avoid internal toxic positivity, follow these three steps.

Be Transparent

Being transparent with yourself about what you are feeling means having enough respect and self-compassion to allow yourself to feel. When you’re honest with yourself about your emotions, you make it easier to get rid of those emotions. Additionally, you can also weaken their hold the more often you are honest with yourself about them. By acknowledging their presence, you avoid emotional repression.


Knowing when you are feeling emotional is typically easy, but classifying those emotions isn’t always easy. For those who have been repressing their emotions, emotional identification becomes more difficult as they are typically classified as the highest-ranking emotions (anger, sadness, happiness). Additionally, it’s always possible there are multiple emotions present at one time. This can, again, make it even more difficult for those repressing their emotions to categorize the emotions they feel. One tool that can be used to aid in validating and identifying emotions is an emotion wheel. Emotions are valid, but the more you understand them the less power they have.

Have Empathy

Empathy and self-compassion are imperative to avoiding toxic positivity. You may feel both grief and happiness at the same time, and that is normal. Having empathy for yourself means realizing that emotions are part of the human experience and that you are allowed to have them. Empathy encompasses validating, identifying, and understanding your emotions, but with yourself.

External Toxic Positivity

Avoiding being toxically positive with others may be difficult if you are toxically positive with yourself. While you work on being less toxic with yourself, consider using those same (or similar) tactics with others. Below are three steps to avoid toxic positivity when interacting with others.


While being transparent with yourself requires you to listen, you also need to listen to others. By listening to others when they are describing their emotional state, make them feel acknowledged, heard, and validated by repeating back to them what you hear. For example, “I hear that you are experiencing immense grief right now,” or, “It sounds like that event made you feel very angry.” Don’t offer unsolicited advice, but if you want clarity on what they are looking for, ask them if they want advice or someone to empathize with them.

Have Empathy

Empathizing with others is a lot like empathizing with yourself. Showing empathy means being able to understand other’s emotions and demonstrating that understanding through some kind of support. Having empathy for the bad parts of being human is okay. Yin and Yang come from ancient Chinese philosophy and methodology, representing complementary forces, like good and bad. The symbol for Yin and Yang denotes there is some good in the bad and some bad in the good. Having empathy for others (and yourself) means accepting this fact.


To avoid toxic positivity, you have to change your language. Toxic positivity often sounds like, “good vibes only,” “everything happens for a reason,” or, “it could be worse.” These are invalidating statements that can make people feel shame for feeling emotions. Emotions are not something to be shameful of. Replace these phrases with, “all vibes welcome,” “life is full of peaks and valleys,” or, “you aren’t alone in this experience.”


While positivity serves us greatly in many regards, when it becomes toxic positivity it becomes detrimental to our mental health. Overcoming toxic positivity and emotional repression is not an easy task, but it is possible. It takes willpower and habit building to rewrite your mind’s natural way of thinking. To continue spreading your positive influence, you must have compassion and empathy for the spectrum of human emotions, both with yourself and those you influence. Once you do so, life will, ironically, become more positive.

Take the High Road

Take the High Road

Hi team! It’s your friend, Mary, with The I in Team Series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence. This week, I want to focus our attention on what it means to take the high road. Taking the high road is subjective to each of us; at The I in Team Series, we believe the high road is when you take the path that helps the most people and hurts the least amount of people. Sometimes taking the high road means leaving someone or something behind so you can continue to grow in your positive influence. It can mean swallowing your need to speak when the timing isn’t right or being patient while you give someone an extra five minutes of your time. Taking the high road is always taking the right road, but you must understand what that path means and how to find it.

Finding the High Road

The high road is always the right road, but sometimes finding it can be difficult. First, you must weigh the paths you have in front of you. Ask if these choices, and subsequent decisions, influence anyone other than you (most decisions do), and then ask which choice will produce the most positive influence. When taking the high road, remember to put yourself first if the decision will influence you the most. We believe that in order to give people your most positive influence, you must live life for yourself and put yourself first. Some may find this selfish; some will say this is taking the low road. Taking care of yourself so you can have a positive influence is anything but selfish. So, when considering the high road, you will need to take yourself into account first, and then evaluate which decision will positively influence the most people.

Making decisions can be difficult when you don’t know what the outcome will be, but you have to trust yourself to weigh the pros and cons and analyze the information you have. Be diligent and seek out more information and trust your instincts. Ask people you can trust for their opinion if you need an external source to weigh in. You may find that one day, you are walking on what you believe is the high road, but you may find yourself standing alone.

Walking the High Road

Walking the high road can be a lonely road, as most people find it difficult to take the high road. You may become unpopular and shunned by peers for the decisions you make in life, but if you know that it is your high road then you must stay true to yourself. Let’s digress to a story about a man named Nicolaus Copernicus, who was a mathematician and astronomer in the 1500s, and the first to suggest that the Earth and all the planets revolved around the sun, rather than the Earth being the center of our solar system. He made several great strides in astronomy, including correctly hypothesizing why planets go into retrograde.

However, this was at a time when everyone believed that the Earth was the center of the universe and that everything moved around a stagnant Earth. Copernicus was utterly rejected by society, thrown in prison, denounced by his faith, and all but killed for his ideas (which, most, were later proven to be true). At no point did Copernicus waiver from his findings, and he spent his life trying to help others see the truth about our world. He died being mocked and shunned by society and faith. We now know that the Earth does in fact revolve around the Sun. This is one of my favorite stories of human strength and will. It would have been easy to retract his statements to be accepted by society and his church, but he refused. He knew what was right and he died trying to teach others. There are high roads that you will walk alone, but you must keep empathy in your heart for those on the low road.

Observing the Low Road

Choose curiosity over judgement. Do not judge those who cannot see the high road, be curious as to why they can’t or why they refuse to walk it with you. Having empathy for those who are walking the low road is another form of taking the high road. Like Copernicus, the best you can do is speak what you believe to be true from your perspective. Educate others and encourage them to be curious. Do not view others as being judgmental when they ask questions in a tone that questions your position; appreciate that they are looking for knowledge and view them as curious, even if they can’t control their tone. Being on the high road means holding empathy for those who are not with you, whether they choose not to be or don’t know how. Just because others haven’t joined you on the high road yet, doesn’t mean they won’t. Taking the high road is the mark of a leader.


Taking the high road is always taking the right road. Whether it is to benefit yourself or to help others, your high road is always right. When faced with an opportunity to take the high road or the low road, envision your hands with one up and one down; the one up is the high road, the road that will bring the most positive influence to you or others, and the hand that is down is the low road, the road you take when you are not your best self (most likely to induce feelings of guilt later on). Taking the high road may seem scary, difficult, or impossible at times, but if Copernicus could do it in the 1500s, you can do it today.

The Problem with the Golden and Platinum Rules

The Problem with the Golden and Platinum Rules

Hi team, it’s your friend Mary with The I in Team Series where you can find, be, and build your positive influence! This week, I want to discuss my personal opinion on the Golden and Platinum Rules. To review, the Golden Rule is, essentially, “treat everyone as you would want to be treated” and the Platinum Rule is “treat everyone as they want to be treated.” While these both offer great guidelines for hopefully treating others with love, kindness, and respect, I think they miss a huge component of humanity: Mental Illness. I know when I’m depressed, anxious, or in the pits, I don’t want to be treated well; more so, I don’t feel like I deserve love and kindness because my mind tells me I don’t. This is the primary problem I see in the Golden and Platinum Rules, but before I propose my solution, I want to dive into these rules a little further.

The Golden and Platinum Rules

The Golden Rule, in some variation, has been written in religious text for centuries. It essentially reminds everyone to stay mindful of how they treat others lest someone treat you the same way. It promotes a sense of empathy and social awareness. Although, it is a bit egocentric. It’s a rule that tells you to treat others the way you would want to be treated, assuming you believe you deserve to be treated well. I know that for me and others who suffer from depression, anxiety, or other mental illnesses, not everyone feels that they are worth being treated well all of the time. So, for example, if I followed the Golden Rule while in a depressed state, I probably wouldn’t treat others very well. Why? 1) Because I feel horribly about myself and the world and 2) If I were hypothetically following the Golden Rule, I would treat everyone the way I felt I deserved, which I’m certain nobody wants.

The Platinum Rule was proposed and developed by Dr. Tony Alessandra and Dr. Michael J. O’Connor. On Dr. Alessandra’s website, he writes,

“The Platinum Rule accommodates the feelings of others. The focus of relationships shifts from ‘this is what I want, so I’ll give everyone the same thing’ to ‘let me first understand what they want and then I’ll give it to them.’”

Dr. Alessandra and Dr. O’Connor were absolutely correct to propose a rule that focuses on the other person more than the self. This ensures you are attempting to give someone what they want, but it leaves out what people need. Sometimes people want things that aren’t good for them, as I hope you understand by now with the example above. While we want to accommodate the feelings of others, we also need to be mindful that sometimes the people closest to us don’t know what they need to feel better and in those moments we should offer them love and support with no strings attached.

How I Approach Treating Others

To be honest, I didn’t know what to call it. But, the way I approach treating others is to, “Treat everyone the way you would want someone to treat the person you love most in this world.” Perhaps, this is redundant, as many people’s favorite person is themselves. Personally, this rule works for me. I don’t always have the best mental health and reminding myself to treat others the way I would want someone to treat Spencer, my fiancé, is really helpful. No matter what kind of mental issues I’m battling, I always want Spencer to be treated with love, kindness, and respect. To be honest, I just can’t say the same about myself, although I know those thoughts aren’t true, the mind can be tricky.

I believe following a rule like this will help everyone be more socially aware. Spreading a positive influence is the best way to combat the negativity of the world. If we can increase our emotional intelligence, do our best to realize when we aren’t feeling so great, and strive to treat others the way we would want someone to treat those we love the most, I know we can increase our positive influence. Maybe not every day, but we aren’t meant to be perfect every day. Life might kick us down, or we might have a bad day with a negative influence, but we just have to keep going forward, learning from our mistakes, doing our best, and striving to remain uplifted and positive. If we can do this, we can spread love, kindness, and acceptance in all areas of our lives.


These rules have always been meant as guidelines for treating others with love, kindness, and respect, and in reality, all three rules are saying the same thing with different wording. One is centuries old, derived from philosophy and religion. One is a more recent thought pool, used to increase others’ empathy and social awareness. And one is used to recognize that people these days have mental illness and we should remain mindful. It doesn’t matter your race, age, or sexual orientation; all human beings deserve a chance to be treated with love, kindness, and respect. We all deserve to live in a world where we are free to be our most true selves. In a diverse world, we all flourish, so spread positive influence to those who are similar to you and those who are vastly different. We are all important in this time.

How Your Environment Influences You

How Your Environment Influences You

Hi team, Mary here! Welcome to 2021. It shouldn’t come as a shock, considering 2020 was one environmentally influencing year, but your environment plays a huge role in what influences you every day. It affects your mental health, including your outlook on life and stress, depression, and anxiety levels. Understanding what in our environment influences us and how is the first step we can take towards combatting negative environmental influence.

Types of Environmental Influence

There are a few types of environmental influence that could be affecting you, including physical and social factors. Physical factors are things having to do with your body and your physical environment around you. Social factors include your family, friends, coworkers, and wider community.


Check out some examples of physical environmental influence below.

  • Your Home, Office, and Car: These are among the top places you spend your time. How these areas look (meaning, how clean and organized they are) influence your mental health daily. Living in a clean and organized home can increase your positive outlook on life because your immediate surroundings are also positive. Note: When we say “organized” we don’t mean you have to Marie Kondo your home! You might have a ton of stuff and keep it organized in a way that suits your needs. Your process of organization doesn’t have to match others’ processes.
  • Pollution: In case you don’t know already, air pollution affects your health! Psychology Today reports in this article titled The Impact of Air Pollution on Mental Health that air pollution can increase suicide risk and depression.
  • Sleep Deprivation: When you’re sleep deprived, your mental health declines. A good night’s sleep can boost your immune system, act as a light painkiller, prevent weight gain, increase heart health, increase your positive mood, reduce stress, increase productivity, and improve memory. Read more in this article titled 10 Benefits of a Good Night’s Sleep by VeryWell Health.
  • Weather: Bad and extreme weather can influence your mental health! Dealing with snowstorms, constant rain, lack of sunshine, and freezing temperatures is never fun for anyone. Seasonal affective disorder, anyone?
  • Smoking: You already know the risks associated with smoking.
  • Eating Habits: If your doctor hasn’t told you already, what you put into your body has a direct effect on your mood and health. Check out this article Nutritional psychiatry: Your brain on food by Harvard Medical School.

These are just a few examples of physical factors that can influence your mental health. Try to remain mindful of these influences, even if they are negative. What other physical factors do you encounter daily?


Check out some examples of social environmental influence below:

  • Stigmas: People experience racism, sexism, ageism, and other forms of prejudice that can have a serious impact on their mental health.
  • Relationships: Friends, family, lovers, co-workers, and strangers are all part of your relationships. The people you choose to surround yourself with has a major influence on your mental health. Don’t surround yourself with people who will mentally, emotionally, or physically abuse you. Choose relationships that lift you up and make you feel more positive about life.
  • Community: The community in which you live has a tremendous influence on you. Impoverished communities versus wealthy communities have different influences on human beings. No matter where you come from or where you are now, you absolutely have the capability to be a positive influence and have a positive outlook on life.

Social factors influence your mental health so pervasively because humans are social creatures! What other social factors influence you daily?


Realizing that our environments can influence us may help us overcome the negative side effects that can come from negative environments. Your environment doesn’t have to look like someone else’s to be positive or make you feel content. Part of your environment is your outlook, and if you can try to remain mindful of what influences you, you can try to remain mindful of how you see the world. Just remember, it’s okay to have bad days! It’s okay to feel negative and emotional. It’s how you pick yourself back up that defines you. Don’t let your environment drag you down! Instead, lift everyone and your surroundings UP with your positive influence.