Back to Blog


Aug 04, 2019

Do you love a challenging case or feel completely threatened by it? 

When a patient comes in with a challenging set of symptoms that don’t immediately fit within a diagnostic process or I simply can’t put them all together on the spot, I thoroughly revel in the challenge! Call me crazy if you like but one thing I know very well about myself is that I am not the naturally gifted one among my colleagues, I had to work for every grade. And I had my fair share of low grades if I didn’t work my ass off.

I carry this into my family medicine practice. I practice vulnerability with my patients. I will frequently tell them I have no idea what’s going on but I equally love a challenge and I am willing to work it out. This is followed by thorough examination, often plowing through my internal medicine resources and trying to figure out what their diagnostic dilemma is. The patients receive this with gratitude that I am willing to figure it out and up for the challenge.

I had always thought of this as a weakness: That I had to work hard for any achievement I got. 

However, after reading “MINDSET the new psychology of success “by Carol Dweck I am changed and have made changes to my parenting too!

Carol Dweck is a Ph D Professor of Psychology. She wondered why some people rub their hands together and get excited in the face of a challenge and will practice until they succeed (GROWTH MINDSET) and others say “If I have ability, I’ll do well: If I don’t, I Won’t” and beat themselves up as incompetent or weak or bad people if they don’t have success (FIXED MINDSET). And that these Mindsets can be changed.

After each chapter is a series of questions to help you GROW your Mindset and here are a few really great questions that I pulled directly from the book:

Question 1: Think of times other people outdid you and you just assumed they were smarter or more talented. Now consider the idea that they just used better strategies, taught themselves more, practiced harder and worked through their obstacles. You can do that, too, if you want!

Question 2: Are there sports you always assumed you’re bad at? Well, maybe you are, but then maybe you aren’t. It’s not something you can know until you’ve put in a lot of effort. Some of the world’s best athletes didn’t start being that hot. If you have a passion for a sport, put in effort and see.

Sometimes being exceptionally endowed is a curse. These athletes may stay in the fixed mindset and not cope well with adversity. Is there a sport that came easily to you until you hit a wall? Try on the growth mindset and go for it again.

Athletes with a growth mindset find success in learning and improving, not just winning. The more you can do this the more rewarding sports will be for you – and for those that play them with you!

Question 3: What it the message we are sending to our children? Are they messages that say: “You have permanent traits and I am judging them?” Or are they messages that say “ you’re a developing person and I’m interested in your development?”

How do you praise? Remember that praising children’s intelligence or talent, tempting as it is, send a fixed mindset message. It makes their confidence and motivation more fragile. Instead try and focus on the process they used – their strategies, effort or choices. Practice working the process praise.

Question 4: How do you let yourself learn? Imagine you’ve decided to learn a new language and you’ve signed up for a class. A few sessions into the course, the instructor calls you to the front of the room and starts throwing questions at you one after the other.

Put yourself in the fixed mindset. Your ability is on the line. Can you feel everyone’s eyes on you? Can you see the instructor’s face evaluating you? Feel the tension, feel your ego bristle and waver. What else are you thinking and feeling?

Now put yourself in the GROWTH MINDSET. You’re a novice – that’s why your’re here. You’re hear to learn. The teacher is a resource for learning. Feel the tension leave you; feel you mind open up.

The message is: You can change your mindset.

When we have a GROWTH MINDSET then failure means nothing about our worth or value, it becomes a challenge and another chance to grow and improve.

How liberating is that thought! No longer am I a failure, I am allowing myself to learn and grow.

I don’t have to be perfect or pretend that I am perfect, I can show my vulnerabilities and areas that I am learning and growing. I can admit that I need to work on my relationships, that I need to read and study to stay up to date and that I still seek help even when I have been at this career for 18 years!

What Does FIXED MINDSET look like?

Have an understanding that intelligence or ability is inherent

Desire to look smart or skillful

Avoid challenges as they may challenge your smartness or skill

Get defensive or give up in the face of obstacles

See effort as fruitless or insulting

Ignore useful criticism and see it as negative feedback

Fee threatened by the success of others

So what is the process to grow a GROWTH MINDSET?

Recognise that intelligence or ability can be developed

Have a desire to learn

Embrace challenges

Persist in the Face of Setbacks

See Effort as the path to Mastery

Learn from criticism

Find lessons and inspiration in the success of others

Reach higher levels of achievement

I encourage you to read the book, Carol really goes into detail and lovely real-life examples of fixed and growth mind in many contexts.

As a parent and medical educator, I learned many valuable lessons in how to encourage my learners into a growth mindset.

Have a great week everyone!

xx Sarah, the Charting Coach

PS. I would love to help you with your charting problem!

Head to and Sign up for Charting Champions Program Today

Any questions email: [email protected]


#chartingcoach #physicianburnoutprevention

Don't miss a beat!

Stay connected to The Charting Coach! New blog posts delivered to your inbox. 

By clicking the sign up button, you are subscribing to The Charting Coach and agree to our Privacy Policy and Terms of Use , including receiving emails.