100 “Growth Mindset” Quotes from History’s Greatest THINKers


Along the path towards creating a growth mindset in any school or classroom, obstacles are bound to present themselves in various – and often unpredictable – forms, potentially derailing even the best plans. Without support from school administrators, fellow educators, and parents, teachers may become frustrated and think a growth mindset classroom is out of their reach.

These bumps along the road should be seen as learning opportunities, a page right our of the growth mindset playbook. As the teacher becomes the student, it’s important to look back to insight from the great learners who came before us. In order to facilitate an ideal learning environment based on a mindset of growth, educators must also know that mistakes are okay as they often are our best teachers.

As Carol Dweck states in “Mindset: The Psychology of Success,” “Picture your brain forming new connections as you meet the challenge and learn. Keep on going.” The growth mindset approach to learning applies to us as educators as well as our students. In fact, it starts with us.


Before Dweck defined the growth mindset method, giving teachers the power to change their school’s learning environment, it was history’s best THINKers who provided educators with inspirational quotes to pass onto their students. These quotes are more than mere “cat posters” in the sense that they do not only give the warm fuzzies, but also challenge us all to persevere and strive to become the best possible versions of ourselves without fear of failure. We hope you enjoy and share them with your students. Feel free to add your own growth mindset quotes in the comment area.

Download our FREE ebook: “Creating a Growth Mindset in Your School”

  1. “If plan A doesn’t work, the alphabet has 25 more letters – 204 if you’re in Japan.” – Claire Cook
  2. “Do not judge me by my successess, judge me by how many times I fell down and got back up again.” – Nelson Mandela
  3. “It’s not that I’m so smart, it’s just that I stay with problems longer.” – Albert Einstein
  4. “Failure is success if we learn from it.” – Malcolm Forbes
  5. “In criticizing, the teacher is hoping to teach. That’s all.” – Bankei
  6. “We are responsible for what we are, and whatever we wish ourselves to be, we have the power to make ourselves.” – Swami Vivekananda
  7. “Many of life’s failures are people who did not realize how close they were to success when they gave up.” – Thomas Edison
  8. “Don’t worry about failure. Worry about the chances you miss when you don’t even try.” – Sherman Finesilver
  9. “To avoid criticism, do nothing, say nothing, be nothing.” – Unknown
  10. “It takes 20 years to make an overnight success.” – Eddie Cantor
  11. “How you think when you lose determines how long it will be until you win.” – Gilbert Keith Chesterton
  12. “Don’t be too timid and squeamish about your actions. All life is an experiment.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  13. “Twenty years from now you will be more disappointed by the things you did not do than by the ones you did. So… sail away from the safe harbor. Explore. Dream. Discover.” – Mark Twain
  14. “Dreams don’t work unless you do.” – John C. Maxwell
  15. “You have to apply yourself each day to becoming a little better. By becoming a little better each and every day, over a period of time, you will become a lot better.” – John Wooden
  16. “Geniuses is one percent inspiration and ninety-nine percent perspiration.” – Thomas Edison
  17. “Only in the darkness can you see the stars.” – Martin Luther King, Jr.
  18. “A mind is like a parachute. It doesn’t work if it is not open.” – Frank Zappa
  19. “We are all here for some special reason. Stop being a prisoner of your past. Become the architect of your future.” – Robin Sharma
  20. “History has demonstrated that the most notable winners usually encountered heart-breaking obstacles before they triumphed. They won because they refused to become discouraged by their defeats.” – B.C. Forbes
  21. “A genius! For 37 years I’ve practiced fourteen hours a day, and now they call me a genius!” – Pablo Sarasate
  22. “Destiny is not a matter of chance, it is a matter of choice; it is not a thing to be waited for, it is a thing to be achieved.” – Winston Churchill
  23. “Whether you think you can, or think you can’t — you’re right.” – Henry Ford
  24. “Nothing will work unless you do.” – John Wooden
  25. “I don’t divide the world into the weak and the strong, or the successes and the failures. . .I divide the world into the learners and the non-learners.” – Benjamin Barber
  26. “The worst bankrupt in the world is the man who has lost his enthusiasm. Let a man lose everything else in the world but his enthusiasm and he will come through again to success.” – H.W. Arnold
  27. “Success is the ability to go from one failure to another with no loss of enthusiasm.” – Winston Churchill
  28. “What you envision in your mind, how you see yourself, and how you envision the world around you is of great importance because those things become your focus.” – Eric Thomas
  29. “You can achieve anything you want in life if you have the courage to dream it, the intelligence to make a realistic plan, and the will to see that plan through to the end.” – Sidney A. Friedman
  30. “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
  31. “We are what our thoughts have made us; so take care about what you think. Words are secondary. Thoughts live; they travel far.” – Swami Vivekananda
  32. “Don’t tell me how talented you are. Tell me how hard you work.” – Artur Rubenstein
  33. “When people undermine your dreams, predict your doom, or criticize your, remember, they’re telling you their story, not yours.” – Cynthia Occelli
  34. “If you don’t give anything, don’t expect anything. Success is not coming to you, you must come to it.” – Marva Collins
  35. “Treat a man as he is and he will remain as he is. Treat a man as he can and should be and he will become as he can and should be.” – J. W. Goethe
  36. “We should open ourselves to the impossible and embrace a psychology of possibility.” – Ellen Langer
  37. “When it is obvious that the goals cannot be reached, don’t adjust the goals, adjust the action steps.” – Confucius
  38. “Most people never run far enough on the first wind to find out they’ve got a second. Give your dreams all you’ve got, and you’ll be amazed at the energy that comes out of you.” – William James
  39. “There are two ways of spreading light: to be the candle, or the mirror that reflects it.” – Edith Wharton
  40. “If you can dream it, you can do it.” – Walt Disney
  41. “No problem can withstand the assault of sustained thinking.” – Voltaire
  42. “If you’re making mistakes, it means you’re out there doing something.” – Neil Gaiman
  43. “The tragedy of life is not so much what men suffer, but rather what they miss.” – Thomas Carlyle
  44. “The real fault is to have faults and not to amend them.” – Confucius
  45. “The problem human beings face is not that we aim too high and fail, but that we aim too low and succeed.” – Michelangelo
  46. “The very best thing you can do for the whole world is to make the most of yourself.” – Wallace Wattles
  47. “Try a thing you haven’t done three times. Once, to get over the fear of doing it. Twice, to learn how to do it. And a third time, to figure out whether you like it or not.” – Virgil Garnett Thomson
  48. “What you get by reaching your destination is not nearly as important as what you will become by reaching your destination.” – Unknown
  49. “Things don’t go wrong and break your heart so you can become bitter and give up. They happen to break you down and build you up so you can be all that you were intended to be.” – Samuel Johnson
  50. “By amending our mistakes, we get wisdom. By defending our faults, we betray an unsound mind.” – Hui Neng
  51. “The measure of success is not whether you have a tough problem to deal with, but whether it’s the same problem you had last year.” – John Foster Dulles
  52. “Success comes from knowing that you did your best to become the best that you are capable of being.” – John Wooden
  53. “Tell me and I forget. Teach me and I remember. Involve me and I learn.” – Benjamin Franklin
  54. “Success is no accident. It is hard work, perserverance, learning, studying, sacrifice, and most of all, love of what you are doing or learning to do.” – Pele
  55. “It is never too late to be what you might have been.” – George Elliot
  56. “He who wrestles with us, strengthens our nerves and sharpens our skills. Our antagonist is our helper.” – Edmund Burke
  57. “Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty. Anyone who keeps learning stays young.” – Henry Ford
  58. “Kites rise highest against the wind, not with it.” – Winston Churchill
  59. “Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself.” – George Bernard Shaw
  60. “There isn’t a person anywhere who isn’t capable of doing more than he thinks he can.” – Henry Ford
  61. “Vision is not enough. It must be combined with venture. It is not enough to stare up the steps; we must also step up the stairs.” – Vaclac Havel
  62. “We must get our hearts broken sometimes. This is a good sign, having a broken heart. It means we have tried for something.” – Elizabeth Gilbert
  63. “The best years of your life are the ones in which you decide your problems are your own. You do not blame them on your mother, the ecology, or the president. You realize that you control your own destiny.” – Albert Ellis
  64. “When the world says, ‘Give up,’ Hope whispers, ‘Try one more time.’” – Unknown
  65. “After living with their dysfunctional behavior for so many years, people become invested in defending their dysfunctions rather than changing them.” – Marshall Goldsmith
  66. “The greatest mistake you can make in life is to be continually fearing you will make a mistake.” – Elbert Hubbard
  67. “Challenges are what make life interesting. Overcoming them is what makes life meaningful.” Joshua J. Marine
  68. “If you shoot for the stars and hit the moon, it’s OK. But you’ve got to shoot for something. A lot of people don’t even shoot.” – Confucius
  69. “Finish each day and be done with it. You have done what you could… Tomorrow is a new day; begin it well and serenely and with too high a spirit to be encumbered with your old nonsense.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
  70. “What man actually needs is not a tensionless state but rather the striving and struggling for a worthwhile goal, a freely chosen task.” – Viktor E. Frankl
  71. “The only true failure lies in the failure to start.” – Harold Blake Walker
  72. “To die is poignantly bitter, but the idea of having to die without having lived is unbearable.” – Erich Fromm
  73. “Security is not the meaning of my life. Great opportunities are worth the risk.” – Shirley Hurstedler
  74. “A man who has committed a mistake and doesn’t correct it is committing another mistake.” – Confucius
  75. “Anyone can sympathize with the sufferings of a friend, but it requires a very fine nature to sympathize with a friend’s success.” – Oscar Wilde
  76. “There is no greater agony than bearing an untold story inside you.” – Maya Angelou
  77. “It’s hard to beat a person that never gives up.” – Babe Ruth
  78. “Knowing what is and knowing what can be are not the same thing.” – Ellen Langer
  79. “The team that makes the most mistakes usually wins.” – Piggy Lambert
  80. “There has to be this pioneer, the individual with the courage, the ambition to overcome the obstacles that always develop when one tries to do something worthwhile that is new and different.” – Alfred P. Sloan
  81. “He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying.” – Friedrich Nietzsche
  82. “Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure.” – Thomas Watson
  83. “Great works are performed, not by strength, but by perseverance.” – Samuel Johnson
  84. “Certainty is a cruel mindset. It hardens our minds against possibility.” – Ellen Langer
  85. “I think the future of psychotherapy and psychology is in the school system. We need to teach every child how to rarely seriously disturb himself or herself and how to overcome disturbance when it occurs.” – Albert Ellis
  86. “Anyone who has never made a mistake has never tried anything new.” – Albert Einstein
  87. “Ask ‘How will they learn best?’ not ‘Can they learn?'” – Jaime Escalante
  88. “Improve by 1% a day, and in just 70 days, you’re twice as good.” – Alan Weiss
  89. “Criticism may not be agreeable, but it is necessary. It fulfills the same function as pain in the human body. It calls attention to an unhealthy state of things.” – Winston Churchill
  90. “Man’s main task in life is to give birth to himself, to become what he potentially is.” – Erich Fromm
  91. “It does not matter how slowly you go so long as you do not stop.” – Confucius
  92. “Patience, persistence and perspiration make an unbeatable combination for success.” – Napoleon Hill
  93. “You may have to fight a battle more than once to win it.” – Margaret Thatcher
  94. “It takes courage to grow up and become who you really are.” – E.E. Cummings
  95. “Failure is not fatal, but failing to change might be.” – John Wooden
  96. “Every accomplishment starts with the decision to try.” – Unknown
  97. “It is hard to fail, but it is worse never to have tried to succeed.” – Theodore Roosevelt
  98. “A wise man can learn more from a foolish question than a fool can learn from a wise answer.” – Bruce Lee
  99. “Before the beginning of brilliance, there must be great chaos. Before a brilliant person begins something great, they must look foolish in the crowd.” – from I Ching written by Fu His
  100. “There is always a step small enough from where we are to get us to where we want to be. If we take that small step, there’s always another we can take, and eventually a goal thought to be too far to reach becomes achievable.” – Ellen Langer

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