Know this!  Your very life will depend on shifting all the way into the "workable" mindset.

The primary distinction that makes life work is to know that one can achieve anything if one chooses to engage in learning what to do and how to do it - that's the Growth Mindset.  What makes life "not work" is defending the status quo or having to prove oneself "good enough" or "smart enough" as a fixed implicit trait.  In the latter, we base our "good enough" on our IQ or some imagined built in trait, and we get caught up in defending it or playing safe. The first creates an incredible and great life; the latter creates a life of unhappiness and definitely less success.

In test after test performed by Carol Dweck, those who were thinking in terms of protecting their intelligence dramatically underperformed those who had no such critical evaluation system and based their lives on simply learning what needed to be learned.  Actual performance, in equally capable people, was dramatically greater in those growth mindset people than those in the fixed mindset.  And, you bet your boots, it dramatically affects life, including such things as "stopping short" because of the fixed mindset versus the much greater completion (and success) level of those in the growth mindset.  And those in the growth mindset did not get diverted into the Perfection game and the harm it does to those who seek it, in the fixed mindset.  Read the book:   Mindset - The New Psychology Of Success


Per the Laws Of Life Physics, we will continue on our current path unless the momentum is impacted by an outside force (usually knowledge) or a mindset (way of thinking) is created that automatically introduces new information that improves one's life.  The latter is the "growth mindset" where we are motivated to learn and to seek knowledge that will improve our lives.

You can't afford to, and definitely cannot succeed at, live a life of proving how smart/intelligent/worthy you are, as this is the same hopeless trap of trying to be
"good enough".  The only option is to accept yourself as a machine that is set up to enable you to master more and more and to create more and more fulfillment and happiness for oneself.  Only the learning/growing way works.

                                                                            The BuddhaKahuna

Not a distant relative at all, the life damning "not good enough" is the first cousin of the life damning "I must prove myself good enough, so I can't risk anything that might say the opposite."  This is what Carol Dweck calls a fixed mindset.  (Typical to the fixed mindset is Perfectionism - The Sure-Fire Path To Hell.)

Are you operating from a fixed mindset that hinders your life?


Carol Dweck, in her book Mindset: The New Psychology Of Success,  discusses two ways of thinking, that I am slightly altering here (so you have to read her book to get her version, but you must study it to the level of Sufficient Knowing):

1.  I am  a "fixed entity".  I have to prove my worth and avoid disproving it.  I will therefore avoid anything that has too much of a chance of proving I am not smart enough or intelligent enough (or "good enough").  I must get feedback from others (or my inner judge) to validate me.

The problem here is that this keeps us small, trying to be right, and causes us to stagnate and not feel good.  We live life protecting ourselves from being proven unworthy.  Not a good life!

2.  I am a growing entity, mastering more and more, adding to my life.  (She calls this a "growth mindset".)  Here, I do not have to prove anything.  I am just gleefully adding to my repertoire, making my life and myself better and better in terms of fulfillment and happiness.  All that matters is that I get what I truly want in life (based on an "informed" choosing) - so it is the acquisition of working knowledge that I seek, since this is the source of getting what I want.


To the fixed entity obstacles and mistakes are terrible experiences, since they represent not measuring up, not being good enough.

To the growing entity mindset, obstacles, setbacks, and mistakes are inevitable on the road to mastery and are mere stepping stones.  A mistake is just an indication of a "not knowing", so it represents, not in a Pollyanna type way but in actuality, an opportunity to learn - in other words a "going forward" incentive (whereas the fixed mindset has the same obstacle, setback, and/or mistake be a stop-avoid incentive). 

The growing entity has a subgoal "to learn what is necessary", whereas the fixed entity has a goal to measure up and to not not-measure-up.  The latter must have a steady diet of successess, so he/she will tend to set up him/herself with "easy" successes, avoiding possible failure - as any failure is devastating to maintaining the perfectness required to never be proven unworthy or not good enough or not as good as they hope to be.

Indeed, it does not matter to the truly growing entity that he/she is in the bottom 25% of accomplishment or status or "being good enough".  He knows that he is simply where he is because he received what he has received and followed only the path that he could follow given his knowledge and upbringing. 


L.S. Barksdale nails it in this statement, paraphrased here a bit:  " We all do the best we can at the time given the current limitations of our awareness ("knowing").  There is no fault for having that level of awareness, for it could not have happened otherwise.  The "fault" lies merely in the lack of awareness - and therefore the solution lies in increasing that level of awareness."

I recommend that you read the key contents of his writings: L.S. Barksdale Pieces On This Site - Contents, Links.


Well, he is just an intellectual and I'm not.  (Therefore, I can't use my head to think rationally and logically, etc. and etc.) [Note that this type of thinking is stereotyping based on prejudice - and not real thinking.]

Not said explicitly but implied:  This is just the way I am.  I cannot be another way.  I and fixed.

These are statements existing in the world of irreality, made-up, not-true - and actually preposterous if one has adequate learning about what reality is.  (Read at least:  Who I Really Am - Don't Get Confused With What You Have Or What You Believe.)

Those are, obviously, fixed mindset statements.  The growth mindset would have a person learn and then declare that "I can learn to be anyway I want to be.  I need only replace what does not serve me with what is true and what does serve me in real results."

A variation of this way of thinking is:  "I have been _______, therefore I will always be that way."  (Or behave that way or feel bad or...)  "I have always been fat.  It's just me.  I can't help it.  And I've failed so often, that, therefore, I will probably fail in my efforts."  [A growth mindset person recognized that a failure of a behavior is a failure of having the right strategy, not a failure of willpower, character, inability in life, etc.  See The Skill And Process Of Change - the problem is not the person, but that the person has not yet learned what is necessary - and the person CAN learn, surely!]


Adversity in one mindset equals opportunity and a no blame route; in the other it creates "helplessness" and defeat. 

Learning goals for one is what are most prized.  Performance goals for the other are what is most prized. The irony is that the one who is seeking the learning goals will, inevitably, outperform the one who is just seeking performance, just seeking to be approved of or proving he/she is "good enough".

Read and decide: Deciding Whether To Stay At The Level Of "Amateur" - Or Dilettante Or "Partialism" Or "Insufficient Knowing".  

Yes, we do have to have a concept of ourselves as "enough"...but that "enough" is the sense that one is or is in the process of learning what it takes to get the results one wants in life.  In self esteem circles that is called a "sense of self-efficacy", which I would suggest is a mandatory component for happiness in life.  Read Self-Efficacy - The Essential SEnse Of Life Competency.

Below, if you question my possible implication that you are of the fixed view, read the first section and then take the self-rating test that follows.


People who seek to grow to get better are, indeed, mindful of growing.  But they may not be of the growth mindset and/or might be holding themselves back because of their "I am a fixed entity" mindset.

The proof is in the pudding.  (The result is the indication of how something worked and therefore of the effectiveness of the knowledge behind it!)

Do you get fixed on proving your knowledge is right, even arguing with someone who has studied more than you?  Or do you recognize that you might have misunderstood something or have the wrong "facts" - and therefore you listen to the other person to see what you can learn, instead of trying to prove yourself right?  (If you do get into such arguments, you are proving yourself to be of the "fixed entity" mindset!)

I am not "criticizing" you for being of the fixed mindset - if I were to criticize you, then I would not be in the growth mindset!  What I am suggesting is that you become aware of this so that you can make a better choice that will serve you toward having a vastly better life!!!


I seek to have you see where you actually are, so that you can make a decision of what you might want to do about it.  If you don't see it, then you'll languish in "blissful ignorance" (which turns out over time to not be so blissful!).

__ I am not getting the results I want in life.
    __ I acknowledge that must be from not knowing enough to be able to get those
         results. (Duh! Obvious.)
__ I argue (more than the common incidental getting trapped) to prove that I am right,
    that I am smart enough, that I am of a high enough status
   __ Instead of just seeking to learn more by listening and discussion.

The first question is an absolute indicator of a fixed mindset, for a true growth mindset would have been engaged in seeking to learn what it takes to get what one wants in life (and that list of wants would not include as a primary want "getting approval" or "proving myself", both of which are ludicrous, nonsensical, made up mental constructs with no true reality). 

If you are of a "fixed" mindset, then your first task is to learn how to grow out of that mindset and how to virtually eliminate the wrong thinking and beliefs around getting approval or trying to be good enough or to be worthy enough.  (See the Beliefs Contents, Links section to see what to read.)  And you would not stop before you get to "sufficient knowing" to solve this underlying belief that supports so many other dysfunctional, untrue beliefs. Without that sufficient knowing in this case, you will be doomed to the same life results.   Spend as much time as you can learning this - and, for heaven's sake, keep going until you arrive at "sufficient knowing".

For more depth, read

Wikipedia - Carol Dweck's Mindset Book 

Her book: Mindset - The New Psychology Of Success , Carol Dweck

The mindsets

The Life Wisdom Mindset

The Busy Mindset Versus The Value Mindset

Listing Of The Mindsets - See the others that will propel you forward in life.

Related on this site

Sufficient Knowing

No Fault - The realization that dramatically changes life!

Your Path Is Your Only Attainable Path Under The Circumstances...

Having A Sense Of Self-Efficacy - The Essential Sense Of Life Competency - Essential to happiness (see side bar in that piece)

Getting To And Being "Good Enough"

Writings around reality, self-esteem, sufficient knowing, and what works in life:

L.S. Barksdale Pieces On This Site - Contents, Links.

We falsely create an "identity" and think it is us, but we don't "think" about it and reexamine what is actually us.  This is a fundamental misunderstanding dealt with in most philosophical disciplines, especially Buddhism.  Indeed, the misunderstanding is a great source of suffering.  Read and understand Who I Really Am.  When you understand this, you no longer have to defend it nor spend so much energy trying to rescue it.  It is simple, but life changing.  

The sages over the ages point out how important it is to let go of the ego (sometimes called the "I" or the identity). But, if we know who we really are and don't think that we are that which we've added, we have accomplished what they were strongly advising.

When we have reached that point, we have nothing to prove to "make ourselves ok" - we only need to observe when we don't do something well and to ackowledge that, therefore, we don't know enough to do well - and from that we decide to learn what is needed.  Simple!!!!