How to “get” a Growth Mindset in 4 simple steps, plus the Eaten-By-A-Bear Comparison

In the last post, I said that having a growth mind-set is the single most powerful thing we can do for our lives.

That’s all very well, but how can we bag ourselves a juicy growth mind-set?

Good question.

In this post, I’ll answer just that.

But before, remember that having a fixed/growth mindset is not an on/off switch.

It’s a sliding scale. You’re always working to destroy you limiting beliefs.

For me, I’d say I have a fairly growth-orientated mindset, but I have loads of limiting beliefs to work on.

So, without further ado, here’s psychologist Carol Dweck’s 4-steps to a growth mind-set. 

Let’s go!


Step 1: Listen out for your fixed mind-set. 

You know that little voice in your head? The one that tells you; “you can’t do it”.

Yeah, that’s the one.

Giving it the one-fingered salute comes later, but for now, just listen.

Be aware that it’s there.

“Holy crap, I’ve got this little voice telling me I can’t do it!”

Yeah, exactly like that.

For me, just identifying your limiting beliefs is the most powerful part of the process.

So as you go about your day, listen out for the little voice. Be conscious of your subconscious.

When I look at people doing really ballsy stuff, like talking to thousands of people, or confidently talking to anyone in a social situation, I think, “I want to be like that!”

Then this little voice will creep in… “But I’m not a social person! I’m not confident like those guys!”

Then it gets worse. “Iain, it’s totally cool not being a social person. Don’t sweat it. You’re good at other things instead.”

Oooh. That last one really gets me. It’s a tempting line of thought for anyone. Partly because we’ve usually been taught that everyone has their unique strengths and weaknesses. But why don’t they teach us that our weaknesses don’t need to be our weaknesses?

That same little voice follows me about in tons of places.

At the gym, when it’s the last rep of bench presses “Iain, you can’t do the last rep. You’re too tired. But don’t worry….. you’ve worked hard up till this point. Don’t sweat it, you’ve done enough.”

Again, it’s a double whammy. It tells us that we can’t do something. But then it makes it even easier to accept it.

But look at step 1. Learn to hear this little voice.When I’m at the gym, I think to myself “Here we go again… the voice is back”.

Being aware of the demon really is half the battle. What it says is almost always complete rubbish, but hear it out nonetheless.  

Know thy enemy. 

So, whenever you think you can’t do something, stop, and recognise that it’s a limiting belief.

“I’ll never be good at maths”

“I’ll never be able to get the body I want.”

“I’ll never be confident at parties.”

“I’ll never have the discipline to workout every morning.”

“I’ll never be able to earn X amount of money a year.”

“I couldn’t be an entrepreneur. ”

“I’ll never be able to tell people “NO!”

“I’ll never be the guy/girl everyone wants to hang around with.”

“I’ll never be a conversationalist.”

“I could never give a speak in public like that!”

ALL of these are limiting beliefs.

Recognise them for what they are. Hear the little voice of doubt.


Step 2: Know that you have a Choice.

So, you’ve now realised that this little voice is following you around, like, everywhere!

What’s next?

Know that you have a choice. It’s simple, but it’s powerful.

Everytime you catch yourself thinking with a fixed mindset, every time you hear that little voice, remind yourself that listening to it, or believeing it is your choice.

“I hear you dog. But I don’t have to listen to you. You ain’t the only one round these parts.”

Ok, so my self-talk is starting to sound like some kind of western. Which is not what happens. But anyway.

Know that you have a choice. There is always a choice. You can listen to that little voice, or choose a growth mindset.

Ex. You’re at a party.

“I’m not a social person. I don’t belong here.”


It’s the little voice.

“OK, I have a choice here. Yeah, sure I could say I’m not social. OR I could see this as a challenge. Training. A social work-out.”


Think you’re not “musical”? Tell yourself it’s a choice. Can’t say no to people? You can’t dance? You’re not a language-y person? Not a writer? Whatever it is, remind yourself that you ALWAYS have a choice.

The choice is simple. Give in to that little voice and think with a fixed mindset, or choose a growth mindset.

“I can see this as a limitation. Or I can see it simply as an obstacle to overcome on my journey.”

You always have a choice.


Step 3: Drown out your little voice with kick-ass self-talk. 

This isn’t just airy fairy. It’s not up in the clouds. It works.

Even if you don’t fully believe that you can do it, tell yourself you can do it. Or that the task at hand is a climb-able obstacle rather than a gaping black hole of doom.

There’s loads of ways to destroy these limiting beliefs.

Here’s some of my favourites;


1.Use “not yet”.

Little voice: “Conversationalist? Ha! Who are you kidding?”

You: “I’m NOT YET a conversationalist. Not Yet. But just wait.”

Little voice: “You. In shape? Ha! Don’t make me laugh!”

You: “I’m not in shape yet, but I will. I will. And hater’s gonna hate.”

Works with literally everything. Like “failures”. Maybe you went for a job interview, and totally blew it. Or failed an important exam.

It’s not a failure. It’s just you’re not there yet.


  1. “So I might fail. So what?

In lectures, I’m always swithering whether to put my hand up to ask a question.

Me: “What the heck is the professor on about it? I’m thinking… let’s ask a question. Opinions?”

Little Voice: “Woah, woah. Stop right there. You’re gonna look like an idiot. Just keep your head down. We’ve got a reputation to keep up here.”

Growth me: “Well yeah, sure, we might look like an idiot. We might gloriously fail. But so what?”

This little dialogue happens ALL THE TIME. I hate putting myself out there. I hate looking like an idiot. I need to listen to growth me, more than the little voice.

The “So what” usually just makes you think… “Yeah, good point. SO WHAT IF I FAIL?!”.



  1. Think where you’re going, not where you are.

Think about the trajectory of your life, not where you are.

For example, say you’re out of shape. Or, you suck at playing guitar. Or can’t understand a word of French.

Those are examples of where you are. But where you’re going is more important.

Ex. Out of shape. “Well sure, I might be out of shape, but I’m working on it. I’m getting there.” You’re on an upwards trajectory.

Think of your trajectory and where you’re going. As long as you’re on the up, then forget where you are right now.

Where you headin'?
Where you headin’?
  1. Actual self-talk. Use a mirror.

Before a big event where that little voice becomes not-so-little, it’s time to resort to plan B.

Go to the nearest mirror, grab the sink, and shout to yourself that you CAN do this.

Look yourself in the eyes. Convince yourself. You CAN do it. The little voice won’t seem so big.

Role models come in handy too. If you know someone else has been in your shoes, looking nervously at the exact same obstacle, then went on to overcome it, it feeds your growth mindset.

It gobbles all that stuff up. And at the same time, it shuts up your little voice.

Drown out the little voice of doubt. Unleash your kick-ass self talk!


Step 4: Take action.

Just do it.

The final step.

Note the word step. I.e. You do the first 3 steps before this one. That’ll help to “just do it”.

But even by this stage, we’re likely still pretty doubtful. This is where I unleash my secret weapon….

The Eaten-By-A-Bear Comparison.

Ask yourself “This could be uncomfortable, but would I rather be getting eaten by a bear?”.

Just kinda puts everything in perspective quite nicely.

What's the other option again?
 What’s the other option again?

Me: “Would I rather do this XXX or get eaten by a bear?”

Little Voice: “Depends on the bear.”

Me: “Shut it.”

And that’s it. Go for it!  When you start taking a growth mind-set, and taking on challenges, of course it’s tough. But just think;

“Of course it’s difficult. But if it wasn’t difficult, everybody would be doing it”.

And reward yourself for effort. Not results. If you’re frustrated, that’s good! It means you’re trying! When the frustration gets too much, take a break, sharpen the saw, then get back to it.

Step 4: Take Action. “Would I rather do this, or get eaten by a bear?”


Take away: Dweck’s 4 steps to a growth mind-set.

  1. Practice hearing your little voice of doubt. Be aware of your fixed mindset.
  2. Remind yourself: you have a choice. Limitation, or a become-stronger challenge?
  3. Drown out your little voice with positive self-talk. “Not yet” “So what if I fail?” Look in the mirror.
  4. Take action. “Would I rather do this, or get eaten by a bear?


So that’s it from me. Let the model sink in, then put it to the test.

I’m definitely going to be thinking about the 4 steps more. I’ve always got limiting beliefs to work on.

Let us know what you think in the comments! How do you use self-talk? Do you have these conversations with yourself? Or am I just a total weirdo? (Well, I know that already ;) )


As always,

Dream Big, start small!



2 thoughts on “How to “get” a Growth Mindset in 4 simple steps, plus the Eaten-By-A-Bear Comparison

  • September 9, 2016 at 7:30 pm

    Major thanks for the forum topic.Much thanks again. Will read on… Prell

  • January 16, 2017 at 12:28 am

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