Do you or your children see failure and mistakes as a bad thing?

Are your children more likely to give up after failure?

Do you tend to tell your children they are “clever” or say “well done for making an effort?”

Would you be surprised if I told you that the former message to your child is actually less helpful than the latter?

“Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed no hope at all.” ~Dale Carnegie

Fixed Mindset Versus Growth Mindset

The former message (“you are clever”), whilst it is said by parents and teachers with good intentions, nonetheless encourages what is known as a Fixed Mindset: that you either have “it” or you don’t.

The latter message (“…making an effort”), however, encourages a Growth Mindset, encouraging a child to realise that effort and persistence is “the difference that makes the difference”.

Every child (and adult, for that matter) needs to learn about the Growth Mindset, as popularised by Dr Carol Dweck in her best-selling book “Mindset”. But for ADHD kids, who tend to have a bad relationship with the concept of “failure”, learning this life lesson is vital. They will struggle to succeed without it.

Oh, and if you’re an adult and haven’t learned this mindset yet, it’s vital for you too, and it’s never too late to start today! (If you have doubts and thinking “It’s too late, I’m too old” well guess what: not only is that not true, but it’s also an example of a Fixed Mindset, the opposite of the Growth Mindset. So stay open minded and keep reading…).

“Challenges are what make life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” ~Joshua J. Marine

Mother and child have ADHD coaching

Why I Coach My Clients into the Growth Mindset

In my work coaching children and adults with ADHD, I challenge the Fixed Mindset and install the Growth Mindset by helping them to realise that failure is not a bad thing. Hypnosis is a great tool to help you achieve this, because hypnosis is all about communicating with the subconscious mind where our beliefs are stored.

I show my clients that the ability to accept failure is the key to success. The more you can fail the more you are likely to succeed. The ability to fail, over and over, to embrace it and not shy from it, IS success turned inside out. Failing proves that you’ve been trying, that you’ve been choosing to show up and give it your best shot, and that’s a good thing!

When I was a boy my parents would say, “You’re really clever, you can do anything” when I was struggling. I didn’t understand back then why these “kind” (but ultimately unhelpful words) frustrated me even more. I knew I wasn’t fulfilling my potential, but didn’t know why not. And neither did they. We just didn’t know any better.

Apart from ADHD, not having a Growth Mindset was one of the biggest reasons why. Saying you’re clever teaches a child a Fixed Mindset, that their achievements are due to some fixed inborn potential that cannot be changed (“You either got it or you haven’t”). So when the “clever” child struggles they think “maybe it’s not true then”, and are less likely to persevere.

The Tortoise & the Hare: How the Slowest Can Win the Race

Many research experiments with children by Dr Dweck demonstrate this fact, over and over again. For example, when children are told they are clever, they tend to become less effective over time, and even their IQ decreases; and yet children who are given messages focusing on effort, tend to become more efficient over time and their IQ increases!

This is not to say that there aren’t differences between people and that these are not significant, but that Growth Mindset may be even more significant. It’s not so much about what you start with, but what you do with what you’ve got that determines where you will “end up.”

This reminds me of the story we were told as children about “The Tortoise and the Hare”, and how the Tortoise actually ends up winning the race even though he is slower! The same is true of the messages we give our children. Tom may have a higher IQ than Mary at the beginning of the race, or be faster, or whatever, but over time if he is given messages about how naturally clever or special he is, his IQ will begin to lower a little, and his performance decline. Meanwhile, it’s possible that Mary taught a Growth Mindset could catch up or even surpass Tom if she persists where Tom gives up!

So next time when encouraging your child, why not say: “Well done for making a good effort…well done for not giving up…” or when they make a mistake, why not surprise them with: “Well done for making a mistake and realising that it’s the way to learn. Making mistakes proves you’re trying…” By doing this, you’ll install a Growth Mindset. You might also want to encourage yourself this way too. Why not post “Growth Mindset” quotes around your home like I do to remind you:

“Success is the ability to fail over and over. The more times you fail, the more you are likely to succeed. Success is failure turned inside out.”

“It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.” ~Confucius

“If you find a path with no obstacles, it probably doesn’t lead anywhere.” ~Frank A. Clark

Why not check out this article with 14 inspirational “Growth Mindset” quotes to give you inspiration:

Give the Gift of Growth Mindset this Christmas

Give the Gift of Growth Mindset This Christmas!

In January 2019 we will be focusing on mindset, but it was recently coming across this wonderful Growth Mindset journal for children called “Big Life Journal” that really inspired me to share the Growth Mindset with you sooner.
Unfortunately, unless you’re in the USA maybe, it’s likely too late to get a copy as a christmas present…

That said, why not check out this link here at their website to “Top 85 Growth Mindset books for children and adults” which inspired me to buy Growth Mindset books for my young nephews and relatives. If you’re stuck for what to buy someone, you still have time to get one of these awesome transformational books from your local bookshop or via Amazon

Why not give the gift of Growth Mindset this Christmas? A Gift that could last them a lifetime 😉


“Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” ~Henry Ford

Learning for life


  1. Cal on December 17, 2018 at 11:34 am

    Thanks for this. A growth mindset could include a sense that choosing to fail today can lead to bolder steps tomorrow, and that means that tired people can promise to do better when they can because right now it’s the best contribution they can make.

    When I was younger I assumed that people were in a strong enough position to take my advice on board. I’ve been brought just low enough lately to see that everyone who told me I needed to understand others better was right. If you can earnestly fall, then you’ll usually come up with something to share with the victor.

  2. Mindvalley on August 14, 2019 at 4:00 am

    Hey, it’s amazing, Really useful information. Great work.

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