Fixed mindset and perfectionism typically go hand in hand. Perfectionism is the act of always having to be perfect, never allowing mistakes and concerned with how you’ll be judged. People with a fixed mindset think that the world is constantly judging them, and if they make one mistake, that’s it, they are no longer perfect. People with a fixed mindset and perfectionism tend to avoid failure at all costs, as they see it as a proof of their lack of ability. They also value the outcome more than process and seek constant validation.

The fixed mindset was one that was thrust upon me from a young age. From reading to math to being the best big sister, I got the message that I had to be ‘perfect’. When proving yourself as ‘perfect’, you develop the habit of masking mistakes. As Carol Dweck says, “If you have only a certain amount of intelligence, a certain personality, and a certain moral character — well, then you’d better prove that you have a healthy dose of them.” For a while, this mindset worked for me, and until I was about 15 years old, I was getting a 97% average. Then some wheels came off and as soon as I couldn’t be the best, I stopped trying and nearly didn’t get a university entrance. This was just the inevitable happening as it does to all perfectionists… my fixed mindset eventually began to halt my learning capacities.

It took lots of intense work on myself in my 20s to break free of the intimidating fantasy of being perfect. Developing a growth mindset gave me the courage to embrace my own goals and dreams and learn from my mistakes. It’s made me real and relatable – and still successful despite the inner fear that I couldn’t be if I wasn’t perfect.

I’m the first to admit that overcoming perfectionism and adopting a growth mindset is not a one and done. It’s a process of overcoming limiting beliefs and more like peeling an onion. Sometimes, I still find I have more layers of work to do on specific areas and that is okay… well, my growth mindset knows it is 😉.

Every day is a choice to swap perfect for progress. I want to challenge us this week to adopt true growth mindset and take Key Steps to….

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’

Here’s some ideas of how we can swap perfect for progress do this…


Perfectionist Mindset Growth Mindset
Perfectionists tend to be pushed by fear of anything less than a perfectly met goal. High achievers are pulled toward their goals by a deep desire to achieve them.
Perfectionists beat themselves up and struggle to move on when things don’t work as they planned. High achievers are able to bounce back fairly easily and learn from disappointment.
Comparing self to others and coming up short. Focus on your strengths and the value you bring.

Examples of the difference in everyday habits and conversations…

1.      If I’m not good at something, it’s not worth doing. 1.      The more I do something, the more I learn.
2.      I might make a mistake, so I won’t bother trying. 2.      Making a mistake is not the end of the world and give great opportunities to learn.
3.      What was I thinking? This was a horrible idea! 3.      Okay, that didn’t work. Now what? Let’s see where I went wrong and try again.
4.      What a mess that project was. We are not doing that again. 4.      That didn’t go as smoothly as planned. I wonder how we can improve on it for next time.
5.      Maybe next week, when I’m more ready [and next week never comes, i.e. chronic procrastination]. 5.      Let’s try and see how it goes. [Just do it and stop procrastinating].




















Please add to the list and let’s take Key Steps to make progress this week and…

‘be the difference that makes the difference.’




NOTE: The information in my blog may be freely shared and re-used in any online or offline publication, provided it is accompanied by the following credit line: This was written by Dr Sharon King Gabrielides, and originally appeared in her free weekly  ‘Key Steps Food for Thought Blog’ available on the Key Steps website.

Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

About Dr Sharon King Gabrielides

Sharon is a dynamic facilitator, speaker and executive coach with over 25 years’ experience in leadership development and organisational transformation. Her PhD thesis contributed a framework for holistic and sustainable leadership development that was published by Rutgers University in the USA. She is faculty of numerous business schools and highly sought-after by leading corporates because she works hand-in-hand with them to create sustainable results and long-term success. In 2020, Sharon was inducted into the Educators Hall of Fame, which is a lifetime achievement award, recognising excellence and her contribution to the field.

Sharon is one of only three women in South Africa to hold the title of Certified Speaking Professional (CSP) – the Oscar of the speaking industry. She is also a COMENSA Master Practitioner (CMP), a qualified Modern Classroom Certified Trainer (MCCT™) and an accredited Global Virtual Speaker. Sharon is also a registered Education, Training and Development Practitioner (ETDP), holds an Honours degree in Psychology and practices as an NLP master practitioner.

Most important to Sharon is that she has become known for her genuinely caring manner, practical and transformational approach, and for providing valuable tools and that allow people to take Key Steps to really… ‘be the difference that makes the difference.’