From Josh Kaufman’s new book The Personal MBA: Master the Art of Business:
In general, there are two primary ways of looking at the world — two mindsets that influence your response to new experiences.
The first basic mindset is that your skills and abilities are fixed. If you try something and it doesn’t work, it’s because you’re “Not good at that,” and you never will be. You were born with innate skills and abilities that will never change.
Using this mindset, if you experience a challenge or difficulty, you’re likely to stop — you’re obviously not good at it, so why bother?
The second basic mindset is that your skills and abilities are malleable. If you try something and it doesn’t work, it’s because you haven’t worked on it very much, but if you keep trying, you’ll inevitably get better. Your skills and abilities are like muscles — they strengthen with use.
. . .
If you have a “fixed” mindset, challenges are a commentary on your worth as a person — you’ve been tried and found wanting, which makes trying new things feel threatening. If you have a “growth” mindset, challenges are simply an obstacle to overcome by working harder.
You can also see Josh talk about this concept at his website.